JFK expansion would hurt bay: Ecowatchers

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Jamaica Bay's marshland and wildlife would suffer if JFK Airport was expanded, environmentalists argue.

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By Ivan Pereira
Thursday, April 14, 2011

Environmentalists who have been fighting to keep Jamaica Bay alive are pushing the federal government not to go forward with plans to expand John F. Kennedy International Airport into the ecosystem.

The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers laid out their research during their task force meeting last Thursday night on how the proposal to add 400 acres to the airport at the northern part of the bay would destroy the plant and wildlife in the area.

A study released in January by the Regional Plan Association, which was partially funded by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which runs the airport, suggested adding more runways to the airport to handle the growing number of passengers coming into New York and relieve air congestion.

But Dan Mundy, the founder and president of the Ecowatchers, said the plan would do more harm than good.

“It would make so many ecological changes that it could kill the bay in one shot,” he said.

The bay, which is a 39-square-mile ecosystem, has lost thousands of acres of its saltwater marshland over the last century due to an increase of hydrogen in the water. The city has invested millions to curb the hydrogen and restore the lost marshes.

The RPA said its proposal for expansion, which was one of several options in the report, would only affect dead portions of the bay south of the airport and have small ecological repercussions. Mundy, however, said that was not true.

Several fauna, especially fish, live and thrive in that area, according to the lifelong Broad Channel resident. The RPA study did not disclose that information and failed to report the larger impact an expansion would have environmentally, Mundy said.

“The bigger fish chase [the Jamaica Bay fish] and that’s how they fatten up and head to Montauk Point and Delaware. That’s the cycle,” he said.

A spokesman for the Port Authority did not comment on the meeting.

The Ecowatchers presented their findings with a PowerPoint presentation and are urging the PA not to consider the runway expansion. U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) has already expressed his disapproval with the proposal, and Mundy said he hopes more leaders and residents raise their voices, too.

“That part of the bay, contrary to what they say, is not a dead zone,” he said.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at 8:57 pm and is filed under Breaking News, Jamaica Bay, Print Articles, TimesLedger. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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