New York and New Jersey's extensive system of interconnected bays, rivers, estuaries and wetlands is one of the region's true natural treasures. As a dedicated steward of these critical ecosystems, the Port Authority is working in a number of ways, including direct habitat preservation and pollution reduction, to protect these invaluable habitats.
In July 2001, the Port Authority authorized $30 million each for the states of New Jersey and New York to preserve open space throughout the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. Under the program, the Port Authority provides funds to not-for-profit or public entities for the acquisition of property in the estuary identified as suitable for conservation, ecological enhancement, public access or environmental mitigation
Sites acquired to date for habitat protection include:
New York: Butler Manor; and North Mount Loretto Woods
New Jersey: Murray Hill and the Meadowlark Tract in the Meadowlands, a site along the Waackaack Creek Greenway; and two sites in the Dismal Swamp Complex
Sites acquired to date for public access include:
New York: North Shore Marina and Wiman Avenue in Staten Island; Idlewild Marsh and Beach 88 Street in Queens.
New Jersey: Riverbank Park Extension in Essex County, a site included in Hackensack Riverfront Park in Jersey City, and River Barge Park in the Meadowlands.
Our primary partners on these projects include:
Working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps), the Port Authority helped fund the Corps' $18.8 million Hudson-Raritan Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study.
The study evaluated restoration opportunities within the Port District, and prepared the groundwork for a draft Comprehensive Restoration Plan (CRP) released in Spring 2009. A revised CRP incorporating comments and revisions submitted in the course of a region-wide public information process, is scheduled for release in late 2011.
The CRP is the product of a multi-year effort by contributors from throughout the New York-New Jersey region, including leading scientists, technical experts, and stakeholders to provide a science based consensus vision, master plan and strategy for ecosystem restoration in the New York and New Jersey Harbor. The strategy focuses on creating and restoring a mosaic of habitats and includes recommendations for future restoration actions.
The Port Authority serves as an advisor in the preparation of biennial updates to the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan.
Stormwater runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and snow events accumulates sediment and contaminants as it flows over streets, parking lots and other surfaces. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established a program to reduce stormwater discharges from new development and redevelopment. EPA's Phase II stormwater regulations became effective on March 10, 2003. Since both NY and NJ are fully delegated states, NYSDEC is the NPDES permitting authority for all NY facilities and NJDEP is the NPDES permitting authority for all NJ facilities.
All applicable Port Authority facilities have obtained NYSDEC or NJDEP permits and implemented Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP). SWPPPs, including soil erosion and sediment control plans, are also developed for all construction activities that disturb one acre or more. Our SWPPPs are designed to prevent stormwater runoff from contacting pollutants and reduce total runoff to local surface waterways.
The great annual migration of nesting diamondback terrapin turtles at John F. Kennedy International happens from mid-June to early July, with these wayward turtles plodding out of Jamaica Bay and crawling toward sandy areas near a busy runway and taxiway to lay their eggs.
Wildlife specialists from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the US Department of Agriculture have been rounding up the turtles for years by hand at the airport's southeastern end, keeping them safe from departing and arriving aircraft. They are measured, their shells are marked, and they are electronically tagged for identification, before being released to safer areas.
In 2012, more than 1,300 turtles were moved to nesting beaches and so far this year, 227 terrapins have been picked up. Looking toward the future, the Port Authority is installing cylindrical plastic barriers at the base of the airfield fencing to minimize the number of turtles that get onto the taxiway and runway and reduce the need for rescues. There is extensive sandy beach area for the turtles to nest off the airfield.
Falcons do not build nests. Nesting boxes at the Port Authority's Hudson River crossings have been constructed to aid the protection of the falcon eggs. The agency limits bridge construction near the nests to protect the falcons and workers. Construction is carefully coordinated near the nests between March 1 and August 1, which are the nesting and fledgling periods for the falcons. Since 1989, the agency has recorded 126 falcons hatched at its facilities.