Jamaica Bay Science & Resilience Institute Announced
The Institute will be a top-tier research center promoting an understanding of resilience in urban ecosystems and their adjacent communities through an intensive research program focused on the restoration of Jamaica Bay. They also announced progress on several other initiatives outlined under the management agreement, reached in July of 2012 between the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, including the formation of a Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy. They were joined at the announcement by Congressman Gregory Meeks, NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, National Parks of New York Harbor Commissioner Joshua Laird, CUNY Acting Chancellor William Kelly, COO of the Rockefeller Foundation Peter Madonia, and Chair of Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Parks Conservancy Tom Secunda.
The new Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay establishes a top tier research center to promote the understanding of resilience in the urban ecosystem and adjacent communities. The Institute will develop a framework and programs in partnership with academic institutions, non-profits, the community and the many other entities and public agencies actively engaged in research in and around Jamaica Bay including NYC Parks, the National Park Service the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The consortium, which is under development and led by the City University of New York, includes many of the area’s most robust research universities as well as key local institutions: Columbia University’s Earth Institute and its Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Cornell University, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York Sea Grant, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Stony Brook University, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
To help realize the City and NPS’s vision for a revitalized, restored Jamaica Bay, the Institute will integrate cutting-edge research efforts from across the natural and social sciences; draw upon climate science, engineering, and sustainability and resilience studies to create a comprehensive program of research, monitoring and education; as well as outreach. The Institute, which will host visiting scientists, provide lab facilities for students and researchers and convene events to share and disseminate research findings, will be formally established by the fall of this year with a temporary space on the campus of Brooklyn College. The Institute’s first undertaking will be the ‘Urban Resilience in an Era of Climate Change: Global Input for Local Solutions’ Symposium October 17-18. The symposium will bring global and local expertise together to examine what urban resilience means and ways to achieve it.
Additionally, a public-private partnership has been established to raise funds for the planning and development of the Jamaica Bay-area parklands and waters. The new Jamaica Bay – Rockaway Parks Conservancy is chaired by longtime National Park Service philanthropist Tom Secunda, and its initial Board includes representatives from many of the City’s most respected not-for-profit organizations and institutions including Adrian Benepe of the Trust for Public Land.
Even as the City and NPS look to the future, the benefits of this partnership at Jamaica Bay and in the surrounding areas can already be seen. For example, this year the NYC Parks and the NPS together are fielding nearly 300 restoration corps members by combining resources and taking advantage of each agency’s hiring practices. The 200 members of the Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Parks Restoration Corps are complemented by approximately 100 recruits of the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservation and Resiliency Corps, managed by the Student Conservation Association. The combined restoration corps work throughout City and NPS properties helping the region recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy by have restoring natural areas, planting Spartina grasses and removing debris. Additional benefits of the partnership are evident today in new resources and amenities for visitors such as food trucks, bicycling and boating rentals, and expanded public hiking and biking programs across the combined parklands. This successful first season will pave the way for additional ways to improve the visitor experience in the years to come.
The Mayor and Secretaries also announced plans for a beach dune grass nursery at Floyd Bennett Field. This pilot program, with philanthropic support raised by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, will collect native seeds from Jamaica Bay and Rockaway and create a nursery to grow beach dune grass. The grass production would support efforts for coastline restoration in the region and citywide.
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