DEP Releases Draft Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan
DEP has submitted its Draft Jamaica Bay Watershed Plan, which outlines a comprehensive set of potential management strategies to improve the water quality and ecological integrity of Jamaica Bay, to Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Quinn. The plan represents months of comprehensive research and extensive dialogue with City stakeholders under the auspices of a Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan Advisory Committee (the “Advisory Committee”).
Jamaica Bay is a 39 square mile water body with a broader watershed of approximately 142 square miles that includes portions of Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County. The Bay is a diverse ecological resource that supports multiple habitats, including open water, salt marshes, grasslands, coastal woodlands, maritime shrublands and brackish and freshwater wetlands.
These various habitats support 91 fish species, 325 species of birds and many reptile, amphibian and small mammal species. The Bay is a critical stop for birds along the Eastern Flyway migration route and has become an internationally renowned birding destination. Portions of the Bay, most notably the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, have been designated as Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats by the federal and state governments.
The Draft Plan consists of two major portions, one mandated and one voluntary. The mandated portion outlines over 75 strategies for addressing ecological issues in Jamaica Bay, and divides these strategies into five key categories: Water Quality; Ecological Restoration and Enhancement; Public Use and Enjoyment; Sound Land Use and Development; and Public Education and Outreach. The majority of these strategies stem from the Advisory Committee and conversations with other stakeholders via DEP’s public outreach efforts. The voluntary portion of the Draft Plan collects existing literature and research on Jamaica Bay into a single volume, which will serve as an important reference guide during implementation of the Final Watershed Plan.
Both portions are currently under review by the Advisory Committee, Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council. A Final Watershed Protection Plan will be completed in October, 2007.
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