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Atlantic CoastWatch November - December 2002

2002 Voters Still Show Green Resolve News For Coastal Advocates
Even as Republicans widely prevailed in the November elections and anti-
environmentalism flew high in Washington, November 5 voters nationwide also
overwhelmingly supported ballot measures for open space land acquisitions. Of z
109 conservation measures on state and local ballots, reported the Land Trust
Alliance, voters approved 85%; successful referenda in 93 different communities
committed $2.9 billion for parks and open space. Voters Still Green 1
Large pluralities of voters in central and eastern Long Island, New York, CommunityViz 1
hard pressed by the advance of sprawl development, voted exceptionally large
amounts for local purchase of development rights and other measures to safeguard
open space. Between them, the towns of Southampton, East Hampton, and Sayings 2
Brookhaven approved no less than $315 million to support such programs.
Maine Seabird Tally 3
While voters in Massachusetts nearly abolished the state income tax, 7 of
11 towns also voted to increase their residential taxes by up to 3% to preserve open Publications 4
space. This opportunity came via the Community Preservation Act, a state law
offering local jurisdictions a way around a long-existing statewide ban on property Courts & the Seashore 4
tax increases. Admitting that the surtax is no panacea, Southwick conservationist
Dennis Clark told the Boston Globe that “the playing field just got a little more
NE Fishery Gyrations 5
level.”

Even in politically conservative areas, reported the League of Conserva- Saving Pelican Island 5
tion Voters, many pro-environment candidates did well by clearly distinguishing
themselves from opponents on such issues as clean air and water. “The environ- LI Sound Lobster Puzzles 6
ment was unsuccessful as a wedge issue,” the group continued, “in races in which
the contrast was not made clear because both candidates rhetorically claimed Jersey Water Woes 7
environmental leadership, even when the voting record clearly proved otherwise.”
Let’s Roll with Natives 7
The League claimed notable success in a number of key races. One such
occurred in a traditionally Republican district in the Baltimore area where Democrat
Dutch Ruppersberger handily prevailed over Helen Bentley, an incumbent Florida Reefs 8
congresswoman. According to the League this happened in large part, in a state
where Republicans scored large overall gains, because Ruppersberger positioned
Bentley “as someone too close to corporate special interests who failed in Congress z
to protect the health of the district’s economic engine, the Chesapeake Bay.” URLs:
www.lcv.org; www.lta.org
Recurring
People; Awards; Species &
CommunityViz: Extensions of the Present Habitats; Restorations;
Products; Funding;
In the first issue of Atlantic CoastWatch (December 1997) we described the
Report Cards
University of Connecticut’s NEMO (Non-Point Education for Municipal Officials)
project that helps county officials and citizens understand the relationships between
the build out of zoning plans, land cover, the quality of water runoff and planning Atlantic CoastWatch is a bimonthly
choices. NEMO was among early efforts to use geographic information systems nonprofit newsletter for those inter-
(GIS) specifically for community visualization and communication purposes. NEMO ested in the environmentally sound
took off smartly, expanding nationwide. development of the coastline
from the Gulf of Maine
(Continued, p. 8) to the Eastern Caribbean.
2
Atlantic CoastWatch
Vol. 6, No. 6 Sayings
A project of the Sustainable In December 1997, the Sustainable Development Institute launched the
Development Institute, which seeks Atlantic CoastWatch newsletter. We felt that something had to be done to improve
to heighten the environmental quality of the flow of information about coastal issues along the Atlantic seaboard from the
economic development efforts, in eastern Caribbean to the Canadian Maritimes. Every two months since, we have
coastal and in forest regions, by delivered our digest, free of charge. More recently we have added Coastal News
communicating information about better
policies and practices. SDI is classified
Nuggets, a weekly listing of daily headlines from the Atlantic coastal press and
as a 501(c)(3) organization, exempt from other sources. Our five-year benchmark seems a good moment to assess the
federal income tax. broad plusses and minuses observed along the shoreline.

Board of Directors To start with, we note with pleasure that several new providers of regional
coastal information have chimed in. The Chesapeake Bay Program’s daily e-mail
Freeborn G. Jewett, Jr., Chairman summaries of area headlines, the MEPI service for the Gulf of Maine and the
Robert J. Geniesse, Chairman Emeritus SCConservNet’s commercial service, are among them. Coastal web sites and
Roger D. Stone, President
listserv groups have also proliferated.
Hart Fessenden, Treasurer
Hassanali Mehran, Secretary
Edith A. Cecil Commercial media coverage of coastal issues, which long seemed to focus
David P. Hunt largely on storm damage and stranded whales, has improved dramatically in
Gay P. Lord quantity, range, and depth. Many newspapers and even some TV stations have
Lee Petty liberated reporters to prepare multi-part series on coastal issues. Two recent
Simon Sidamon-Eristoff Washington Post series by Michael Grunwald—one on the Everglades, the other
on the US Army Corps of Engineers—are good examples. The editorial page of
Staff
the New York Times has become a stalwart voice for coastal protection and the
Roger D. Stone, Director & President environment in general. Many smaller Atlantic coastal newspapers do a vital job of
Shaw Thacher, Project Manager covering the coast close to home.
Robert C. Nicholas III, Contr. Editor
Anita G. Herrick, Correspondent If polluters now face increasing media scrutiny, so too have they come
Laura W. Roper, Correspondent under more persistent direct monitoring from local citizen watchdog groups.
Riverkeepers, Baykeepers, stream, harbor and estuary watcher groups have
Major Donors popped up seemingly everywhere. Small-plane pilots in North Carolina help scan
the coast. In a project that we hope will soon be replicated along the Atlantic coast,
Avenir Foundation
The Fair Play Foundation helicopter owner Kenneth Adelman and his wife Gabrielle have flown the entire
The Curtis and Edith Munson California shoreline and photographed it in great detail. The images, which quickly
Foundation became useful to government agencies, environmental groups, and plain citizens,
are freely available on the Adelmans’ web site. As have many other local volun-
With Appreciation teers , the Adelmans provided their service at no charge.
We extend very special thanks to these Recreational boaters, not always with great enthusiasm, have learned to
donors who, despite the many demands
be more diligent about waste management. Their knuckles wrapped, cruise ship
on their resources, generously provided
new increments of support for the operators are behaving less flagrantly badly. While flocks of Jet-skis whine and
Atlantic CoastWatch program between roar and spew widely in our waters, at least their usage is better controlled within
October 29 and December 18 of this an ever larger number of marine protected areas. And the manufacturers of these
year: machines have at last started to offer cleaner and quieter motors. Marina opera-
tors as well as coastal golf course managers had much to learn about how and why
Wendy W. Benchley to operate more greenly. In many places they are responding to new opportunities
Barry R. Bryan to operate wildlife and runoff friendly facilities.
Anne P. Cabot
E. Paul Casey
Nicholas Millhouse Though many challenges remain, fishery management has improved, with
Mrs. A. Wright Palmer better cooperation between regulators, scientists and the fishermen themselves.
Lee M. Petty Especially heartening is evidence of self-regulation such as that achieved in recent
Prince Charitable Trusts years by Maine lobstermen and inshore fishermen in St. Lucia. Aquaculture is
Donald Rappaport growing fast, as are solutions to the problems it creates, as illustrated in Maine.
Simon Sidamon-Eristoff
Mary M. Thacher Large environmental groups have taken greater interest in the shoreline
lately—mostly for the better. Too often, though, we hear of cases where they pick
Sponsored Projects
the brains of well-experienced smaller organizations, then claim leadership as they
Environmental Film Festival in the seek media attention and funding. The number of privately run local and regional
Nation’s Capital, March 13-23, 2003 land trusts continues to grow, now laudably exceeding 1,200. Private and public
financial support for even the worthiest citizen efforts has, meanwhile, has been
markedly reduced in the wake of 9/11.
3
People

Sayings, Continued from p. 2 No citizen group has worked harder to


protect a stretch of coastline than the
former Committee to Preserve
A major negative influence along the coastline is the relentless concentra-
Assateague Island, now called the
tion of new people, and the sprawl and contamination that accompany their arrival.
Assateague Coastal Trust. Recently
Destruction of wetlands to make way for roads, developments and parking lots, has
the group marked a major step
reached a disturbing level despite regulatory controls. Incentives for builders and
forward with the appointment of
planners to use “green” techniques, materials, or community designs are still
structural engineer and marine
scarce but growing in number. Shorefront armoring protects homes from erosion,
resource manager Jay Charland, 37,
but replaces habitat and is harmful to many plant and animal species from
as Assateague Coastkeeper.
seagrasses to sea turtles. Beach nourishment projects are under heightened
Charland’s range extends along the
srutiny for ecological effects and costs vs. benefits.
region’s long ignored Coastal Bays
from the Delaware-Virginia border to
Coral reefs are under greater stress than ever. Biodiversity generally
the southern end of Assateague.
continues to decrease. The prospects are dimming for many of our most cherished
E-mail: Coastkeeper@actforbays.org
seasonal wildlife visitors as their habitats shrink. Poor health among fish and
shellfish populations continues to be all too commonplace resulting from pollutants,
New Jersey cranberry king J.
over-fishing, shifting water temperatures and habitat degradation.
Garfield DeMarco was long best
known for his efforts to use political
Citizens continue to support ballot measures protecting the environment
connections to sidestep land use
(see page 1). In many other ways, they manifest concern about coastal degrada-
regulations and drain wetlands. Now
tion and threats to air and water quality. But, except for isolated examples such as
he is prominent for a new reason: his
eastern Long Island, New York, too many local elected officials remain indifferent to
intent to sell 9,400 acres of his family’s
calls for better coastal protection. Local regulation and rule-making vary in quality,
holdings in the Pine Barrens to the
with few indications of major improvements. Of Atlantic coastal state governors,
New Jersey Conservation Founda-
none but New York’s George Pataki and Parris N. Glendening of Maryland (the
tion for half the land’s true value. The
latter leaving office) have backed up stated concerns with positive actions.
Conservation Foundation is trying
to raise the requisite $12 million.
Present on Capitol Hill are a few stalwart environmental champions such as
Trilled The Press of Atlantic City: “What
Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Sherwood Boehlert (R-NewYork),
a wonderful gift to the public, to the
and Wayne Gilchrest (R-Maryland). But their efforts often run into crossfire from
environment, and to future genera-
far-right property rights advocates and from powerful special interests. White
tions.”
House support for environmental policies conducive to a cleaner seacoast, never
strong in recent times, has reached a new nadir.
Awards
Overall, even with limited progress in some sectors, the need for an
informed citizenry to remain active and alert has never been greater. For our part, This year’s Lee Wulff Conservation
as long as the generosity of our readers and supporters enables us to keep on Award, highest honor bestowed by
providing information about critical coastal issues, we will continue and hopefully the Atlantic Salmon Foundation,
improve our services. went to Washingtonian E.U. Curtis
“Buff” Bohlen. A seasoned public
servant with tours of duty both in
government and in private environ-
Maine Seabird Tally mental organizations, Bohlen has
negotiated many deals to help wild
In its November issue, Northern Sky News published a partial listing of Atlantic salmon, most recently a long-
seabird factoids garnered from the recent Friends of Maine Seabird Islands term agreement to suspend
conference. Among them: Greenland’s commercial Atlantic
salmon fishery. As a result, 20,000
z Approximate number of razorbills seen rafted up along Grand Manan additional salmon should spawn in
Island in a recent winter: 45,000 Canadian and US rivers next year.
URL: www.asf.org
z Percentage of the US roseate tern population that lives on 3 islands: 87
z Percent increase in the US roseate tern population since 1987: 276 After spending a day identifying
z Percentage of the US Atlantic puffin population nesting on 4 Gulf of Maine wetlands preservation and manage-
islands: 98 ment strategies for the Meadowlands,
the US Fish and Wildlife Service
z Year the National Audubon Society began protecting puffins on unexpectedly bestowed Special
Matinicus Rock: 1901 Appreciation Awards to Captain Bill
z Breeding pairs of puffins on Matinicus Rock that year: 2 Sheehan and Hugh M. Carola
Minimum breeding pairs of puffins on Matinicus Rock today: 200 (Hackensack Riverkeeper, and
URL: www.northernskynews.com Program Director) and to Andrew
4
Wilner (NY/NJ Baykeeper). Said
Sheehan: “It has always been my
pleasure to assist the Service when-
ever they have requested our help in Publications
gathering data about the Meadow-
lands. To be recognized for just doing z The New York Times chose the often skeptical environmentalist, author and
my job is an unexpected honor.” angler Robert H. Boyle to review The Founding Fish (Farrar, Straus & Giroux
2002) by John McPhee. Boyle found surprisingly few faults and termed the book
Among this year’s “Dirty Dozen” list “that rarest of works, a fishing book that is far more than a fishing book. It is a mini-
of polluters identified by the Toxics encyclopedia, a highly informative and entertaining amalgam of natural and
Actions Center is the Alliance to personal history, a work in a class by itself.” The book, said Publishers Weekly,
Protect Nantucket Sound, also “sings like anglers’ lines cast in the water” and “runs with the wisdom of ocean
known for its well-heeled PR campaign going shad.”
against proposed offshore windmill
farms. Said Toxics Actions Center z Lavishly illustrated with 172 color photos, Coral Reefs, Cities Under the
director Matt Wilson: “Posing as Sea (Darwin Press 2002) is a visual as well as a verbal treat. The book was written
environmentalists, the Alliance by marine scientist and educator Richard Murphy, for many years a collaborator
consists of business lobbyists for the with the late Jacques-Yves Cousteau and currently a senior official with Jean-
fossil fuel industry, past owners of Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society. It closely examines the structure,
polluting mining companies, and a beauty, and fragility of coral reef systems.
number of business interests on the
Cape. Residents are calling on the z A gloomy new assessment of Chesapeake Bay politics foresees little
Alliance to stop using delay tactics and likelihood for success of a cleanup effort now estimated to cost $19 billion if the
misrepresentations to block the goals of the Chesapeake 2000 agreement are to be achieved by 2010. According to
construction of this facility.” Also the political scientist Howard Ernst, the principal reason is that politicians pay
opposing the Alliance’s campaign are serious attention only in the context of crises, losing interest during the “post-
Greenpeace USA, the Natural problem” phase. In his book Chesapeake Bay Blues: Science, Politics, and
Resources Defense Council, the the Struggle to Save the Bay (to be published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2003),
Conservation Law Foundation and Ernst urges environmental organizations to lobby far more fiercely than they have
the Union of Concerned Scien- if major gains are to be scored.
tists.
z A familiar name to many Maine boaters is Roger F. Duncan, who with co-
Species & Habitats authors produced what for many years was the standard-bearing cruising guide to
that coast. In 1992 he produced the hardcover edition of the comprehensive
With a per weight value nearly that of Coastal Maine—A Maritime History. This work, about four centuries of marine
gold, 32 species of seahorses gained activity along the Maine shoreline, is well documented but also presented in an
much needed protection under CITES agreeable conversational style. “Sprightly,” Publishers Weekly called it. A paper-
(the United Nations Convention on back edition was published in 2002 by Countryman Press.
International Trade in Endangered
Species). Prescribed by Asian medical
practitioners for chest ailments and
sexual dysfunction, these dainty
Courts & the Seashore
estuarine dwelling denizens inhabit
much of the northwest Atlantic region. Against the backdrop of the recent EPA decision permitting spraying of
They are also prized by aquarists who some pesticides over open water, US District Court Judge John S. Martin
rarely are able to satisfy their finicky dismissed a Clean Water Act lawsuit by a coalition of environmental groups against
appetites. While the US initiated New York City’s 1999 use of Anvil. In Florida a deadlier pesticide, Fenthion is the
CITES listing does not ban the trade or subject of a lawsuit against EPA brought by Defenders of Wildlife, the American
sale of 32 seahorse species, it does Bird Conservancy, and the Florida Wildlife Federation.
require heightened monitoring and
controls for those countries where While EPA proposed limiting Fenthion’s use in 2001, voicing concerns about
local populations are near the brink. health impacts on birds, golfers, homeowners and children, it has not yet rendered
URL: www.projectseahorse.org a final decision. In 1998 and 1999 the US Fish and Wildlife Service reported that
200 birds on Florida’s Marco Island had died as the result of nearby Fenthion
Mating wading birds have risen in spraying. It also killed fiddler crabs there. University of Florida scientists also
number to levels not seen in the chronicled Fenthion’s toxicity when the rare Schaus swallowtail nearly went extinct
Everglades since the 1940s. But in the Florida Keys after nearby spraying.
rather than link the increase to
improvements in the region’s health, In Washington, testifying in support of the EPA decision to open the Clean
ornithologists suggest that the 68,750 Water Act to pesticide applications, Benjamin Grumbles, EPA’s deputy adminis-
nests recorded this year reflect more trator for water programs stated that since 21,000 pesticides carry labels, their
an idealized sequence of weather application is already regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and
conditions and better water Retendicide Act.
5
management. The prior mating high
was in 2000 with 40,000 nests
surveyed; 200,000 was the peak
NE Groundfishery Gyrations recorded in the 1940s. One concern:
only 3% of wading birds in the
Among fishery management specialists, the past year may be remem- Everglades are breeding in traditional
bered for the wavering course that US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler locations, suggesting the extent to
followed in the direction of better protection for New England groundfish stocks. which natural water flows remain
diverted from where they were 60
At the end of 2001 Judge Kessler ruled completely in favor of five environ- years past.
mental groups. Their lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS) alleged that it had failed to manage groundfish stocks in New England as Restorations
required under the 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA). By taking no measures to
prevent overfishing and excessive bycatch under the SFA, Judge Kessler ruled
A Navy-funded study recently in
NMFS had not followed its own policies designed to rebuild the stocks.
Environmental Science andTechnol-
ogy reveals a previously unproved
By April 2002 Judge Kessler rendered a further decision limiting the New
ability of microbes to devour polycy-
England groundfishery geographically, and reducing most boats to a handful of
clic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) left
days at sea per year. Within weeks Judge Kessler vacated that decision and in May
in harbors from fuel spills, creosote-
permitted a more liberal agreement generated by commercial fishermen, environ-
treated pilings and other industrial
mental and governmental groups, as to how days at sea are calculated. This ruling
activities. Co-author Derek Lovley, a
also reopened two areas in Maine. Many, including some politicians, applauded this
microbiologist at the University of
as a reasonable compromise.
Massachusetts—Amherst, showed
that because of the microbes’ ability to
In September, commercial fishermen observing fish survey methods
metabolize sulfites in sea water, PAHs
aboard the aptly named RV Albatross IV noticed that trawls were being set out of
broke down 20-25% after 338 days.
balance because cables holding the net were miscalibrated. As a result, numerous
As an example, Lovley estimated that
species were undercounted, slipping out the sides, while some fish under the
microbes might cleanse Boston
Kessler rulings, such as skate and cod, likely escaped the net entirely as it drifted
Harbor in 20 years, barring any major
away from the bottom.
fuel leaks. Some cautioned that while
contaminants may naturally break-
Even though fish populations are not primarily estimated based on the
down, others remain unaffected, and
trawls, this undercounting prompted accusations that bad policy had emerged from
that the study’s simulation may not
bad numbers. And so it came to pass that in early December, the Judge granted
duplicate harbor conditions. Never-
northeast Atlantic fishermen a nine-month reprieve. She ordered a delay in
theless they welcomed the news.
implementing the May 2002 federal ruling until 2004 to permit analysis of the trawl
errors. The pause provides time for NMFS to undertake longer-term species
EPA, the Connecticut Department
management efforts, and for fishermen and scientists to collaborate closely in the
of Environmental Protection and
quest for improvements in stock estimation processes. URL: www.clf.org
the New York Department of
Environmental Conservation
recently signed an agreement aimed
Saving Pelican Island at restoring Long Island Sound by
2014, the 400th anniversary of its
In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt signed an executive order exploration by Adriaen Block.
establishing Pelican Island, at the southern end of Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, as Reducing bathing beach and shellfish
the first refuge of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Roosevelt was keen to keep closures, restoring river runs for
the craze for feathered hats from wiping out the brown pelican. Pelican Island, then migratory fish, and improving impor-
measuring 5.5 acres, was home to their last known rookery. tant marine-life habitats are among 30
goals approved, along with $4 million
Host to more than 30 bird species including egrets, herons, terns, and of new EPA funding for Sound related
cormorants, and to threatened and endangered storks, manatees, sea turtles, projects. The agreement builds upon
snakes, bald eagles and piping plovers, Pelican Island is now reduced to just 2.2 the Comprehensive Conservation and
acres. Much of the island’s erosion is blamed on boat wakes from nearby develop- Management Plan approved by the
ments, known to sweep away delicate mangrove and marsh grass roots, and to a states and the EPA in 1994, and
lesser degree storms and pollutants. monitored by the Long Island Sound
Policy Committee. Near term objec-
70% of the erosion has occurred since 1960, with 55% of the island lost tives include the nomination of the
since 1970. Doing nothing to stop it, predicts refuge manager Paul Tritaik, “would Pawcatuck and Mystic rivers and all
result in the island eroding to the point where it would disappear.” With the centen- Long Island Sound embayments in
nial celebration pending, the question then is how to buttress or protect what’s left New York as federal No Discharge
of it. Areas, and the mapping, by the end of
2003, of areas in the Sound that
(Continued, p. 6) support eelgrass.
6
Products

Alert to warnings of environmental


damage caused by conventional deck
LI Sound Lobster Puzzles
cleaners, Charlotte Observer reporter
Sandy Hill set forth this fall in search After a burst of coordinated study on the mortality of Long Island Sound’s
of nontoxic alternatives. Avoiding lobsters, some noteworthy but not yet conclusive findings are emerging from 17
chlorine, she mixed odorless oxygen separate research projects. No single smoking gun explains the extreme lobster
bleach cleanser with water, then die-off observed between 1999-2000. Most researchers suggest a confluence of
scrubbed her deck vigorously. Green factors and events that may be keeping harvests in the central and eastern Sound
and black discoloration faded, and the at 40% of 1998’s level, and 10% in western Sound waters.
old deck came to look “as clean as it
usually gets.” Sandy later finished the The University of Connecticut’s examination of malathion, widely and
job by using a paint brush to apply a controversally sprayed against West Nile Virus mosquitoes, found that even when
water-based synthetic sealer. operating at non-fatal, minute levels, it diminishes a lobster’s immune system by
reducing the ability of blood to process foreign substances by roughly half. While
this finding may help explain the widespread prevalence of a parasite among dead
Funding
lobsters from 1999-2000, the ailment is usually not fatal to lobster populations. An
earlier study by New York City’s health department found that if pesticides were
According to a report in Common
applied immediately prior to a major stormwater event (such as 1999’s Hurricane
Ground, the newsletter published by
Floyd) lobster mortality resulted in nearby bays.
the Conservation Fund, L.L. Bean
has donated $1 million to Friends of
Though not part of the coordinated research started in 2001, a new finding
Acadia in Bar Harbor, Maine. The
by Cornell University’s Alistair Dove suggests another way for stormwater
money will be used to ferry visitors in
flows and pulses to affect lobster mortality. August 2002 produced a new spate of
and out of heavily-used Acadia
lobster deaths, with many displaying “orange” blood, said to result from exposure
National Park aboard fare-free
to temperatures above their 69 degree Fahrenheit tolerance. At higher tempera-
propane-powered buses. The gift,
tures, Dove hypothesizes, calcium carbonate in lobster blood precipitates into sand
says the article, “is the first corporate
grain sized crystals. Functioning like gallstones, these tiny pebbles can clog a
contribution to nonprofit public
lobster’s gills, cutting off oxygen.
transportation in national parks.”
Dove’s theory ties lobster mortality to climate change, and a shifting of the
Among the plethora of specialty
population’s southern boundary further northward. But several arguments suggest
license plates available in Massachu-
that temperature is not the only factor in play. In Rhode Island’s coastal bays,
setts, state authorities recently stated,
lobsters successfully survive higher temperatures. Moreover, temperature change
the most popular is the one featuring
carries with it other factors that may affect lobster disease and mortality: algal
the right whale. Purchases of this plate
growth that depletes oxygen on the seafloor, and the arrival of hydrogen sulfides
(at $40 a crack) account for $9.4
and other chemistry-changing ions in the water. What remains unclear is whether
million of the total $19.5 million the
nearly $10 million for all this research will result in findings that result in new
program has raised since it was
launched in 1995. The whale money policies—or just more research.
goes to the state’s Environmental Trust
for distribution to environmental
projects. Since 1993, Connecticut’s
$50 Preserve the Sound plate has
Pelican Island, Continued from p. 5
provided over $3.6 million for public
access, education, research, and A combined federal and private operation, “Save Pelican Island” dropped
habitat restoration activities. 250 tons of oyster shells from helicopters in the spring of 2001. The idea was to
establish wave barriers within the refuge’s 2,700 submerged acres. That effort
A foundation sponsored by BoatUS merely slowed erosion.
provides grants to nonprofit organiza-
tions of up to $2,000 for projects “to The US Army Corps of Engineers has offered to bolster Pelican with
support education and hands-on bottom dredging materials sucked up from the Intra-coastal Waterway and to pay
efforts aimed at cleaning up our 75% of the estimated $1.75 million price tag. One option is to place the dredge
boating environment.” Applications spoils directly on the island. But, Corps project manager Don Fore told the Orlando
are due by February 1, 2003. URL: Sentinel, “We don’t know if the US Fish and Wildlife Service would let us do that.
www.boatus.com They have a philosophy that they don’t want to do anything unnatural, and we have
to respect that position.” An alternative Corps proposal is to apply dredge spoils not
Maryland faces a $1.8 billion budget to the island itself, but to bolster nearby barrier shoals. But a group of 30-40 nearby
shortfall. The state’s pro-environment homeowners called the Shoreliners has mounted a campaign against the removal
Governor Parris N. Glendening is of dredging materials from existing spoil islands, arguing they will lose beachfront.
preparing to leave his office in the
hands of a less green successor. At One way or another, allowing Pelican Island to go under seems not to be an
option. But the jury remains out on how to keep this island above sea level.
7
this transitional moment the state
found itself weighing a golden oppor-
tunity to protect more than 27,000
Jersey Water Woes acres of open space in 7 counties in
southern Maryland and on its eastern
New Jersey, the nation’s most densely populated state, suffered severe shore. In a set of purchase of develop-
water shortages from drought last summer. Experts say the situation may recur. ment rights and land acquisition deals
The state has lagged in cleaning up its waterways, and under EPA prodding is co-brokered by the state’s Depart-
belatedly taking corrective steps to deal with its management of surface water. To ment of Natural Resources and the
complicate matters new indications of health hazards in some of New Jersey’s 1 Conservation Fund, the state would
million privately owned wells, the result of testing required before homes are sold, have to come up with only about $6.9
are greatly exceeding expectations. million in front money ($19 million in
all) to fund the second biggest land
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) preservation deal in the state’s history.
recently reported that of 1,082 wells recently tested 28% contained primary health Some called it a great proposal for
threatening contaminants, such as lead, nitrates, coliform bacteria or volatile flusher times. But the Baltimore Sun
organic compounds (VOCs). Altogether, 72% of wells failed at least one water called it a priceless “gift to the future.”
quality test, most showing the presence of secondary contaminants considered After a rancorous debate, the 3-
benign to human health. Many of the serious pollutants were below levels consid- member Board of Public Works
ered hazardous. DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell expressed surprise approved the project despite misgiv-
at the high rates found to date. Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club’s New ings by two of its members. For the
Jersey Chapter, pointed to the VOCs found as an indication that undetected con- third, Glendening, their affirmation
taminating sites are polluting groundwater. He added that the high bacteria and was a nice farewell present.
nitrate failures indicate overreliance on septic systems in rural and coastal areas.
Report Cards
While the results so far are preliminary, the high levels of incidence
reported are already bringing calls for action. Existing legislation would result in The Natural Resources Defense
testing after the sale of 20,000 to 30,000 homes a year and (after March 14, 2004) Council issued Cape May to Montauk:
for all rental properties using well water. Still, state lawmakers are already A Coastal Protection Report Card. The
considering mandatory tests for all wells, perhaps as often as once a year. While report contains information as-
Campbell is not yet advocating mandatory tests across the board, his agency and sembled over three years from 169
environmental groups advise well owners to check their water quality annually. municipalities and various state and
federal agencies about the region’s
Problems include the cost of well testing, between $450-600. No public heroes and villains. Its “Dirty Dozen”
funding is available to help low-budget homeowners check the extent and sources most egregious polluters are listed,
of pollution found, or to enforce mandatory testing if required. In addition, current along with 66 jurisdictions credited
law does not require that problem wells be corrected (at an estimated cost of with doing an “outstanding” job of
$2,500 for equipment, or potentially more for joining public water systems). With regulating and permitting. Many of
99.9% of privately owned well not tested, there is considerable uncertainty to costa the latter are on eastern Long Island.
and rates of contamination. Should they remain at current levels, serious changes
in the state’s water management practices can be anticipated. In its 2002 National Environmental
Scorecard, the League of Conserva-
tion Voters as usual accorded top
marks to Northeastern senators and
Let’s Roll with Natives representatives for their voting
records on environmental issues.
Of 1,400 exotic plants, 94 are most responsible for environmental and Mid-Atlantic states fared almost as
economic harm, engulfing 4,600 acres per day, sapping $7.4 billion per annum from well. Only the Rocky Mountain region
agricultural productivity and requiring an additional $3.6-5.4 billion to defend crops. scored worse that the Southeast.
Given such numbers and the importance of native habitat for endangered and
migratory species, the Federal Interagency Committee on Noxious and On a stormy night in September 1969
Exotic Weeds is developing strategies to encourage landowners to go “native.” a barge hit a sandy shoal in Buzzards
Bay, MA, and 600 gallons of oil spilled.
Three pre-existing funds are available in support of such endeavors, and Some of this drifted into West
are soliciting applicants. The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Landowner Incen- Falmouth’s Wild Harbor marsh, killing
tive Program and Private Stewardship Grants, with a combined $50 million avail- birds and other species. Though the oil
able, are geared for habitat preservation and restoration supporting endangered was thought to have disappeared,
species. The USDA Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program will share native landscap- Woods Hole Oceanographic
ing costs, based on the extent of a property’s conversion and whether it is within a Institution scientists recently found
priority zone. deposits just under the surface, as
fresh and lethal as ever. Lack of
URLs: www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/whip; endangered.fws.gov/grants; oxygen in the mud may have pre-
ficmnew.fws.gov served the oil, reports the WHOI team.
Atlantic CoastWatch
Sustainable Development Institute
3121 South St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

Tel: (202) 338-1017


Fax: (202) 337-9639
E-mail: susdev@igc.org
URL: www.susdev.org
www.atlanticcoastwatch.org

Tax-deductible contributions for Atlantic CoastWatch are urgently needed.

FL Reefs Face New Dangers CommunityViz, Continued from p. 1


Coral reefs and the many species that benefit from Concurrently counties were just beginning to
them endure many assaults. These include the effects of explore possible GIS uses. In more recent years many
global warming, pollution, accidental ship groundings, and coastal counties have realized robust GIS applications that
fishing by trawling and through the use of explosives. Now manage taxes, assist zoning and conservation planning, or
fiber-optic cables and a proposed gas pipeline through reef route school buses, among other county level applications.
areas are posing new threats and questions. Often, however, even with plenty of town in hand, planners
have felt that GIS delivered a static picture of their commu-
In south Florida there now exists a network of fiber nity—maps that reflect the past and the present only.
optic cables strung through reef areas to provide international
telecommunications links. According to a recent study com- Enter CommunityViz, a GIS extension created and
missioned by two telecommunications companies and con- designed by the Orton Family Foundation to facilitate
ducted by Public Employees for Environmental Respon- place based decisionmaking by employing the same GIS
sibility such cables sway because of coastal currents and datasets many counties have already built. By combining
wave action, doing near-irreparable harm when they brush up county data with a variety of social, environmental and
against reef structures. Florida officials are currently consider- economic indicators, current realities can be modeled
ing tightening the rules governing the installation of the fiber- against the future. Carol Baker, GIS administrator for South
optics, though the state’s position as the “telecommunications Kingston and Shoreham, Rhode Island and president of the
gateway” to the Caribbean and Latin America is an economi- Northeast Arc Users Group, described CommunityViz as
cally enviable one. Under consideration are rules that would “GIS on steroids.”
bar new fiber-optic cable laying south of Miami, while encour-
aging it in sandy offshore areas to the north. CommunityViz does not simply extrapolate a
county’s economic, social or environmental scenarios, or
Last year AES Corporation bought Ocean Cay, a project land use planning, or display maps three-dimension-
manmade Bahamian island about 50 miles east of Miami, and ally. It also enables town planners and county level govern-
announced its intention to build there a $1.3 billion complex of ing boards to communicate and discuss with citizens what
power and natural gas plants. The company proposes to build they want their towns to look like and how to reflect those
an undersea natural gas pipeline from the Bahamas to energy values that define their sense of community. Throughout the
hungry South Florida. The pipeline would be threaded through dialogue, CommunityViz permits proposed developments to
gaps in coral reefs or installed underneath the reefs after be projected into the future and compared with community-
horizontal drilling, with construction to begin next year and be designed aspirations.
completed by 2006.
Since CommunityViz and NEMO use similar visual
This proposal was not universally applauded at a forecasting to stimulate discussion of common goals, it is
recent community meeting in Dianna Beach, Florida. Accord- fortunate that they have begun to work together. As a
ing to an Associated Press report, project manager Don result, one can expect impermeability and water runoff
Bartlett said that he understands concerns about the reefs quality analysis to become new dimensions of
through which the 95-mile steel pipeline would pass. Regula- CommunityViz. This new feature will render the system
tory agencies, he added, would make sure the pipeline would especially useful for county officials concerned with the
be installed in a way that would do no damage to the reefs. effects of their policies upon the coastal zone. URLS:
Some locals remain unconvinced. www.communityviz.com; nemo.uconn.edu