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DEC Seeking Input On Disappearing Coastal Seagrass

spectr17

Administrator
Admin
DEC Seeking Input On Disappearing Coastal Seagrass

10/23/09

A draft report that presents recommendations for the management of New York's declining coastal seagrasses was released Thursday for public review and input, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced. The report and upcoming public meetings will provide assessments of current seagrass populations and management recommendations to protect and restore this critical marine habitat.

Seagrass is a rooted, flowering plant found in New York's coastal waters. Seagrass - most notably, eelgrass - provides invaluable spawning, nursery, and maturation habitat for several important commercially and recreationally fish and shellfish. Seagrass also improves water quality, is an integral part of marine nutrient cycles, and is an important component of the marine and coastal food webs.

While historic seagrass acreage in New York has not been documented, old photographs and records indicate that there may have been as chuch as 200,000 acres in 1930; today, only 21,803 acres remain. Challenges facing seagrasses include nutrient-heavy runoff and other discharges, decreased water quality and clarity, large phytoplankton blooms, habitat degradation, fishing gear and boating activities, and climate change.

In 2006, the state Legislature established the New York State Seagrass Task Force and charged the group with developing recommendations to restore, research, preserve, and manage seagrass. The Task Force has been researching, monitoring and analyzing seagrass threats, trends, and data. State agencies, recreational and commercial fishing and boating industries, estuary programs, academia, municipalities, and not-for-profit entities worked together to develop the draft recommendations that, when final, will serve as a blueprint for efforts to protect and restore New York's seagrasses.

The draft "Report of the New York State Seagrass Task Force: Recommendations to the New York State Governor and Legislature" is now available for review at Marine Habitat Protection - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation on DEC's website. The recommendations include reducing nutrient discharges to coastal and marine waters which directly and indirectly threaten seagrass health, increasing public awareness of the importance of seagrasses, and establishing water quality standards to protect seagrass habitat.

Three meetings have been scheduled to provide a presentation on seagrasses and the findings and recommendations in the draft report, followed by a discussion and opportunity for the public to comment. Meeting details are below.

Nassau County: Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009, Baldwin Public Library, 2385 Grand Avenue, Baldwin, NY 11510, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Suffolk County: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 Riverhead Town Hall, 200 Howell Avenue, Riverhead, New York 11901 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

New York City: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 National Park Service Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Contact Station, Gateway National Recreation Area 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Written comments on the report can be submitted to DEC until Nov. 25, 2009. Requests for information on the public meetings and comments on the draft report may be submitted to: Karen Chytalo, NYSDEC Bureau of Marine Resources, 205 N Belle Meade Rd., Suite 1, East Setauket, NY 11733, 631.444.0430, or [email protected] . Please reference "NYS Seagrass Task Force Report" in the subject of an email.

Commissioner Grannis also encouraged New Yorkers to consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, an optional stamp that helps support the DEC's efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation. This year's stamp features a drawing of a pair of playful red fox. Buying a $5 stamp is a way to help conserve New York's fabulous wildlife heritage.

Individuals can also enhance DEC's fish and wildlife programs through "Return A Gift To Wildlife" - a voluntary contribution line on the state income tax form which provides taxpayers with an easy, simple way to support fish and wildlife conservation. Any whole dollar amount may be contributed whether taxes are owed or a refund is due, and all contributions are tax-deductible on the following year's return.

Three meetings have been scheduled to provide a presentation on seagrasses and the findings and recommendations in the draft report, followed by a discussion and opportunity for the public to comment. Meeting details are below.

Nassau County: Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009, Baldwin Public Library, 2385 Grand Avenue, Baldwin, NY 11510, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Suffolk County: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 Riverhead Town Hall, 200 Howell Avenue, Riverhead, New York 11901 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

New York City: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 National Park Service Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Contact Station, Gateway National Recreation Area 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Written comments on the report can be submitted to DEC until Nov. 25, 2009. Requests for information on the public meetings and comments on the draft report may be submitted to: Karen Chytalo, NYSDEC Bureau of Marine Resources, 205 N Belle Meade Rd., Suite 1, East Setauket, NY 11733, 631.444.0430, or [email protected] . Please reference "NYS Seagrass Task Force Report" in the subject of an email.

Commissioner Grannis also encouraged New Yorkers to consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, an optional stamp that helps support the DEC's efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation. This year's stamp features a drawing of a pair of playful red fox. Buying a $5 stamp is a way to help conserve New York's fabulous wildlife heritage.

Individuals can also enhance DEC's fish and wildlife programs through "Return A Gift To Wildlife" - a voluntary contribution line on the state income tax form which provides taxpayers with an easy, simple way to support fish and wildlife conservation. Any whole dollar amount may be contributed whether taxes are owed or a refund is due, and all contributions are tax-deductible on the following year's return.

Three meetings have been scheduled to provide a presentation on seagrasses and the findings and recommendations in the draft report, followed by a discussion and opportunity for the public to comment. Meeting details are below.

Nassau County: Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009, Baldwin Public Library, 2385 Grand Avenue, Baldwin, NY 11510, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Suffolk County: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 Riverhead Town Hall, 200 Howell Avenue, Riverhead, New York 11901 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

New York City: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 National Park Service Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Contact Station, Gateway National Recreation Area 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Written comments on the report can be submitted to DEC until Nov. 25, 2009. Requests for information on the public meetings and comments on the draft report may be submitted to: Karen Chytalo, NYSDEC Bureau of Marine Resources, 205 N Belle Meade Rd., Suite 1, East Setauket, NY 11733, 631.444.0430, or [email protected] . Please reference "NYS Seagrass Task Force Report" in the subject of an email.

Commissioner Grannis also encouraged New Yorkers to consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, an optional stamp that helps support the DEC's efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation. This year's stamp features a drawing of a pair of playful red fox. Buying a $5 stamp is a way to help conserve New York's fabulous wildlife heritage.

Individuals can also enhance DEC's fish and wildlife programs through "Return A Gift To Wildlife" - a voluntary contribution line on the state income tax form which provides taxpayers with an easy, simple way to support fish and wildlife conservation. Any whole dollar amount may be contributed whether taxes are owed or a refund is due, and all contributions are tax-deductible on the following year's return.
 


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