Rocky Point Marsh - Queens NY

Written by charlie   
Thursday, 19 March 2015 02:23
Check out the Rocky Point Marsh Makers blog, an informative, well written account of the about the Rocky Point Salt Marsh enhanced immeasurably by artful photography of birds, plants and scenery. Viewing the photos, you could easily mistake the location to be anywhere else than within a stones throw of Manhattan. Rocky Point is within the Gateway NRA complex in Queens, just outside JFK international airport.

Long Beach Island - Holgate Wetland

Written by charlie   
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 17:54
Skimming through some wetlands related articles, the following excerpt from the article Wetlands Development Plans In Holgate Worry Residents Of LBI, Environmentalists caught my eye:

"After sediment from Sandy filled in a portion of the property, the owners sought and received initial permission from the state to remove its wetlands classification, potentially opening the door to residential construction."

This statement brought to mind many more questions than answers.

In light of climate change and rising sea levels does it make any sense to reclassify wetlands filled by natural events in order to develop them? Importantly, does this wetland have the ability to recover? How deep is the overwash deposition? Assuming that the overwash fan is not uniform in depth, and decreases as it moves inland, will only a portion of the affected area be reclassified? Alternatively, if all the overwash is significant, and there is little hope for a natural recovery, should it be reclassified as a dune or swale, and subject to protections other than ones provided for coastal wetlands?

Even prior to Hurricane Sandy it has become apparent that storm conditions have become less predictable and stronger that in the past. With this in mind, the importance of wetland to ameliorate surging flood waters, becomes increasingly important, especially on a barrier island. During a hurricane, especially on a barrier island, water cutting new channels and depositing sediment is not uncommon, and these normal, if undesired, events should not automatically trigger a hasty reclassification.

Studies on storm surge sediment deposition on wetlands date as far back to Hurricane Audrey in 1957. While most of the studies are focused on the Gulf Coast and Louisiana due to the size of the wetlands found at the mouth of the Mississippi, other areas were also studied, including in Florida in the 1990's and well as Texas and Alabama coasts in 2005.

In fact, a review of the literature suggests that the recovery of marsh species after a significant deposition of overwash is not entirely understood, but wetlands do have the ability to recover or even transition to a dune or swale ecosystem. In certain cases, the addition of sediment from a hurricane was beneficial, partially reversing wetland subsidence in coastal Louisiana.

In particular, the study titled "Recovery of a Louisiana Barrier Island Marsh Plant Community Following Extensive Hurricane-Induced Overwash" (1) was illuminating and concludes that Marsh plant recovery directly correlates to the depth of overwash. Recovery decreases when overwash deepens past 25 - 35cm, and eventually transitions to a dune or swale ecosystem when depositions reach past 50cm- 100cm.

Based on the lack of freely available information on the Holgate wetlands condition, and the known potential for wetlands to recover from storm induced overwash, the NJ DEP should strongly reconsider the wisdom of changing the wetlands classification for this property.

Photos of the wetland in questions are here:

Sources and Further Reading:

(1) COURTEMANCHE, R.P., JR.; HESTER, M.W., and MENDELSSOHN, LA., 1999. Recovery of a Louisiana Barrier Island Marsh Plant Community Following Extensive Hurricane-Induced Overwash. Journal of Coastal Research, 15(4), 872-883. Royal Palm Beach (Florida ), ISSN 0749-0208.

Proposed Sale of Wetlands Outrages Residents. By David Chang.

Guntenspergen, G. R., D. R. Cahoon, J. Grace, G. D. Steyer, S. Fournet, M. A. Townson, and A. L. Foote. 1995. Disturbance and recovery of the Louisiana coastal marsh landscape from the impacts of Hurricane Andrew. Journal of Coastal Research 81:334–356.

Torbjörn E. Törnqvist, Chris Paola, Gary Parker, Kam-biu Liu, David Mohrig, John M. Holbrook, and Robert R. Twilley. Wetland Sedimentation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Science 13 April 2007: 201.

Long Beach Township Land Use Board Approves Preliminary Subdivision of Controversial Holgate Lot. Residents Voice Opposition to Application, While Developer Claims Plan for Preservation. Jan 21, 2015.

North Carolina Fines Duke Energy over Coal Ash Spill

Written by charlie   
Wednesday, 11 March 2015 11:18
North Carolina's Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDNR) fined Duke energy $25.1 million for spilling millions of gallons of toxic coal ash near its Sutton Plant facility just outside Wilmington, North Carolina. The fine is the largest the state has levied, after receiving much criticism that Gov. Pat McCrory's close ties to Duke Energy, insulated it from regulations and enforcement. Prior coal ash violations were largely ignored by NCDNR and given only minimal fines and no requirement to clean up. The EPA has also filed criminal charges against the company for multiple Clean Water Act violations, which could lead to fines up to three times the size of civil penalties, plus the threat of criminal conviction. More info here:

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