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Atlantic CoastWatch May - June, 2005

Florida Wetlands Losses Bared


News For Coastal Advocates
Since 1990, reported the St. Petersburg Times after conducting a careful
survey, Florida has lost at least 84,000 acres of wetlands statewide, despite often
reiterated “no net loss” pledges from a succession of US presidents. The paper’s a
two part series places the blame squarely on the US Army Corps of Engineers,
which between 1999 and 2003 “approved more than 12,000 permits and rejected
one.” Florida Wetland Losses 1
Defying the federal Clean Water Act, which emphasizes wetlands
Red Tide Rips New England 1
protection, the Corps, the paper reported, “trains its Florida staff to presume that
every proposal to destroy wetlands is ‘in the public interest’ and tells them to help
developers get permits.” Mitigation measures seldom work, costs to taxpayers Sayings 2
are high. The idea that the Corps is protecting the environment, said authoritative
sources quoted in the series, is a “huge scam” and “a make-believe program.” Saving Block Island 2
Politics also plays a big role in the game, the paper found: “When getting a
wetlands permit takes too long, call your congressman.” Growing Greener, Slowly 3
As interesting as the series itself is how it happened, a story fully told in Publications 4
an interview with co-authors Craig Pittman and Matthew Waite in the Metcalf
Institute’s web publication Environment Writer . An environment-beat reporter at
the paper for five years, Pittman long ago read a National Academy of Sciences Courts & the Seashore 4
report slamming the Corps and the no net loss policy. He knew he was onto “a
great story.” Getting accurate information proved to be a technical challenge. It PCB Cleanup Delays 5
prompted Waite, a general assignment reporter on the paper’s metro staff and a
specialist on computer-assisted reporting, to enroll in courses at the University of Bold Vision for MA Forests 6
South Florida to learn how to use satellite imagery analysis rather than depend on
the Corps’ “totally unreliable” GIS data to build an accurate picture of the losses. McMansion Tensions 6
A full academic explanation of the methodology was posted on the paper’s
website along with aerial shots of a Walmart and other structures built on
Leading the Way in SC 7
wetlands. Also featured were audio clips from a key source, John Hall, who for 15
years ran the Corps’ regulatory program in Florida.
Recovery at the Bank 8
Reaction to the series, and a subsequent editorial, has been positive.
“Readers were very outraged and excited,” says Pittman. “Federal employees a
said they were glad to have the truth come out.” From the Corps, which denied a
few permits after the series was published, adds Pittman, there has been “zero” Recurring
reaction.

People; Species & Habitats;


Red Tide Rips New England Restorations; Report Cards;
Products; Funding
This year, the coastline of the Gulf of Maine from Maine’s Schoodic
Peninsula to Buzzards Bay has since May suffered a particularly bad red tide Atlantic CoastWatch is a bimonthly
infestation. As reported in the Boston Globe, scientists think the huge bloom, the newsletter for those interested in the
most troublesome since 1972, was generated by what one observer described as environmentally sound development
a “perfect storm” of events. Easterly winds moved the annual red tide bloom in of the coastline from the Gulf of
the gulf close to shore. A surge of fresh water, followed by abundant sunshine, Maine to the Eastern Caribbean.
flowed from snowmelt and spring rains. And, as in many other places, ever
increasing nutrient load from coastal development, inadequate sewage treatment, Coastal News Nuggets is a daily news
and runoff from farms and fields were also cited as worsening the problem. clipping service, available at
(Continued, p. 7) www.atlanticcoastwatch.org.
2
Atlantic CoastWatch
Vol. 9, No. 3 Sayings
A project of the Sustainable (What follows is reprinted with permission from the Annapolis Capital,
Development Institute, which where it originally appeared as an editorial on June 17)
seeks to heighten the environmental We get no pleasure from the idea of state officials killing mute swans—or,
quality of economic development for that matter, “addling” their eggs to prevent hatching. But we are pleased that
efforts, in coastal and in forest a federal judge, by shooting down a legal challenge to the state’s efforts to control
regions, by communicating informa- the swan population, has upheld the right of state officials to manage wildlife
tion about better policies and prac- populations under Maryland law—even if that sometimes means killing swans.
tices. SDI is classified as a 501(c)(3)
not-for-profit organization, exempt US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan essentially found that the lawsuit by
from federal income tax. the Fund for Animals and some Maryland residents doesn’t have a legal leg to
stand on: Last year Congress passed a law specifically exempting non-native
Board of Directors species from the statute protecting migratory birds. And mute swans, while
handsome, are a non-native species.
Freeborn G. Jewett, Jr., Chair
Robert J. Geniesse, Chair Emeritus They also have a hearty appetite for the bay grasses the state is strenu-
Roger D. Stone, President ously trying to foster, and they’re competing with native waterfowl—and doing
Hassanali Mehran, Treasurer well, judging by their burgeoning numbers. It’s probably not possible for the
Gay P. Lord, Secretary Department of Natural Resources to eliminate mute swans, but it makes perfect
Hart Fessenden sense for the DNR to try to keep their population in check.
David P. Hunt
Simon Sidamon-Eristoff Of course, swans are far from the bay’s biggest problem. They’re not in
the same class as agricultural and residential runoff, and the algae-feeding excess
Scientific Advisory Council nutrients put into the water by outdated sewage treatment plants.

Gary Hartshorn But we missed the law that says state officials can’t tackle smaller but
Stephen P. Leatherman obvious problems until they’ve solved every major one—or the regulation saying
Jerry R. Schubel that the DNR’s priorities must be dictated by the good looks of the species in-
Christopher Uhl volved. No one is shedding any tears for nutria or snakehead fish.

Staff This issue is one on which the hard-core animal rights activists and
serious environmentalists part company. Most environmental organizations in the
Roger D. Stone, Director & President state back the DNR’s policy on mute swans, and so do we. We hope it can
Shaw Thacher, Project Manager continue without taking more legal flak -- but we wouldn’t bet on it.
Robert C. Nicholas III, Contr. Editor
Sarah Dixon, Program Associate

Foundation Donors
Saving Block Island
Avenir Foundation Back in the 1970s, Rhode Island ‘s Block Island seemed ripe for the kind of
The Fair Play Foundation haphazard development that has afflicted parts of Cape Cod and nearby resort
The Madriver Foundation islands such as Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Traditional farming had
The Moore Charitable Foundation dwindled, and many properties on the beautiful, 6,208 acre island seemed up for
The Curtis and Edith Munson grabs. But, reports Peter Lord of the Providence Journal in an innovative seven-
Foundation part series, a spirited coalition of native islanders and summer vacationers has
Summit Fund of Washington done a remarkable job of keeping developers at bay and preserving the island’s
natural beauty and priceless assets.
Sponsored Projects
Thirty-five years ago, when Lord’s tale begins, no portion of the island
Environmental Film Festival in the was protected in any manner. Then a native islander, a retired sea captain named
Nation’s Capital Rob Lewis, founded the Block Island Conservancy. There later arrived the Block
Island Land Trust, funded via an energetic local effort resulting in legislation to
March 16-26, 2006 levy a land transfer tax. And in 1991 The Nature Conservancy, naming the island
one of its Last Great Places, rolled up its sleeves and went to work to help the local
Featuring screenings of documentary, groups. Result: 40% of the island is now under protection of some sort. Via a
feature, archival, children’s and network of hiking trails, moreover, the public has access to much of the privately
animated films. held land. Though Lord sees all this as a “shared accomplishment,” he does
single out Lewis, without whom “there would have been nothing left to save.”
www.dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org (Continued, p. 3)
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People

Growing Greener, Slowly Capping an already distinguished


career as a marine scientist, Edith
In May, Pennsylvania voters strongly approved a measure authorizing Widder announced her departure
Governor Ed Rendell to borrow up to $625 million for programs to protect open from the Harbor Branch Oceano-
space, clean up abandoned coal mines and polluted rivers, and improve recre- graphic Institution, after more than
ational facilities. The measure, entitled Growing Greener II, is an extension of a 15 years there. Witter is founding a
program initially launched in 1999 by then Governor Tom Ridge. new organization, the Ocean Re-
search & Conservation Association
With ample voter support in hand, many voices urged quick state legisla- (ReCon) as, she stated, a “new type
ture action to move the program along. Said the Scranton Times: “Pennsylva- of scientific organization that directly
nians have stated clearly that they want the environmental progress to continue. focuses its endeavors on behalf of
Lawmakers should move quickly to borrow the full amount and to allocate it to a marine conservation.” ReCon, to be
list of worth projects that are waiting for help.” “Listen to the people,” exhorted a based in Florida, will specialize in the
Philadelphia Inquirer editorial. sector for which Widder is already
well known and much admired:
But implementation is proving to be no easy matter. In order to get developing high tech methods of data
needed political support for the ballot measure, Rendell had to leave many loose collection and analysis.
ends untied until after it had been approved. Its language authorized funding for
“other environmental initiatives,” which triggered lobbying from developers for Two years ago, when she was 14,
what the Inquirer called “back-door subsidies for road, water, and sewer exten- Jenna Shue of Hampden, Maine took
sions, which would promote sprawl.” Republican legislators opposed using taxes an interest in smoke rising from the
on polluters to pay for part of the program, and advocated block grants to coun- Penobscot Energy Recovery Com-
ties—a move that many feared would delay urgently needed action. pany (PERC) in nearby Orrington, and
began doing research on means of
What seems to be shaping up, warned the Lancaster Times Leader, is “a identifying health hazards from toxic
slow, highly political dogfight” within the legislature. Indications of its mood were emissions. One result of her work
expected in July, the deadline for decisions on some of the details. was the discovery that, though the
state requires its 4 waste-incinerating
facilities to conduct periodic emis-
sions tests, it lacked a mechanism to
Block Island, Continued from p. 2 share the results. Shue consequently
initiated a bill requiring the state
Block Islanders have worked on many other fronts as well. One group Department of Environmental
succeeded, after 7 years of trying, to get a threatened lighthouse moved 300 feet Protection to provide that information
back from an eroding cliff. Others organized beach cleanups, encouraged nature to the public, and creating a subcom-
education in the island’s schools, strove with 100% success to save places mittee of the state’s Air Toxics
identified by the state’s Department of Environmental Management as being Advisory Committee to monitor the
especially important, and waged a war that is still being fought to prevent data. This spring Governor John
Champlin’s Marina to expand into four acres of the treasured Great Salt Pond. Baldacci signed the bill into law and
named Shue both to the advisory
Lord describes all this, and far more, not only in print for the newspaper committee and to the subcommittee.
but also in the form of voice-overs to slide-shows assembled on the projo.com Shue’s next project, reported the
website with musical accompaniment. Part 7 of the series consists of lyrical Bangor Daily News: the health effects
photos and narration by Providence Journal photographer John Freidah. Asked if of global warming.
the paper had received complaints about an environmental bias in the series, Lord
replied firmly: “I don’t think my stories were anything but news—a 35 year story The Surfrider Foundation has named
of people saving Block Island. I just wrote about their actions. They are an Jim Moriarty of Solana Beach, CA as
unusual community.” its new executive director. A surfer,
entrepreneur, and innovator, he takes
Not all is well on Block Island. The Champlin’s battle grinds on. the helm of a 40,000 member organi-
McMansions have cropped up on the hillsides, and megayachts crowd the pond. zation devoted to “the protection and
“Visitors,” wrote Lord, “Still jam the island’s narrow roads on summer days” with preservation of our world’s oceans,
ferry traffic from the mainland increasing. Affordable housing for many among waves, and beaches.” It has chapters
the 1,000 year-round residents is a growing problem. across the US and in Puerto Rico, as
well as international affiliates in
“The battle never ends to preserve open space from outsiders trying to several countries.
make a buck from Block Island’s natural beauty,” Lord concluded. Still, enough
has been done to protect this sole economic asset to justify his declaration of Bob Hunter, co-founder of
victory. His series stands as a model for similar journalistic initiatives having to do Greenpeace in 1971 and its first
with the many threatened places elsewhere along the Atlantic coastline. president, died at age 63. A newspa-
per and television journalist, Hunter
4
launched the organization’s well
known protests against US nuclear
testing and many other campaigns
against whaling and other environ- Publications
mental issues. “Perhaps more than
anyone else,” said the organization, a The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve in New
“Bob Hunter invented Greenpeace.” Jersey, a partnership between NOAA and Rutgers University’s Institute of
Marine and Coastal Sciences, offers science-based education and training for
Species & Habitats coastal decision makers in the state. Along the way the reserve detected a
“disconnect” between what these managers said they needed and resources
Mighty bluefin tuna, the much- already available. The result is a snappy website called the Coastal Resources
admired species that can weigh half a Toolkit offering visitors ample and easily accessible information, specific to New
ton and zip around Atlantic waters at Jersey, on topics ranging from sprawl to wastewater management, severe
explosive speeds, are in worse storms, and conservation easements. www.jcnerr.org/coastal_training
trouble than previously thought,
according to a new study by Stanford a Due out from Island Press is the new, 234-page Ocean and Coastal
University marine biologist Barbara Conservation Guide (David Helvarg, ed.), a reference book that, says the pub-
Block. Using sophisticated new lisher, “details more than 2,000 organizations and institutions that are working to
tracking equipment, Block found that understand, protect, and restore our ocean and coastal areas.” Plans call for the
the portion of the population that guide to be published biennially.
breeds in the Gulf of Mexico and then
migrates out into the Atlantic is “the a A recent work of the well-known sailing writer John Rousmaniere is
most vulnerable by far,” according to Sailing at Fishers: A History of the Fishers Island Yacht Club (Mystic Seaport and
the New York Times. Without major the Fishers Island Yacht Club, 2004). This lavishly illustrated volume, reports
new controls, continued the paper, Soundings, reaches beyond its title in recounting the island’s rich maritime history
the “intensifying trade in bluefin,” from 400 years back—as well as that of an active center of competitive sailing.
principally for the Japanese market,
“may soon empty the waters of this a During the 1980’s striped bass recovery, Dick Russell’s journalistic
master of the sea.” accounts were renowned for their blunt and forthright honesty. In Russell’s
Striper Wars (Island Press, 2005), he describes how myriad observations and
Since 2000, says biologist Llewellyn individuals became synthesized into a conservation ethic and policy. He also
Ehrhart of the University of Central highlights why their successes are now imperiled not by harvest, but diminishing
Florida, the number of loggerhead forage. Reads fellow author Carl Safina’s blurb: “Read it, and every time your line
turtles nesting in the 20-mile Archie comes tight you’ll know who to thank. More importantly, you’ll know what else
Carr National Wildlife Refuge on needs to be done.”
Florida’s east coast has dropped from
almost 20,000 to 8,000. The rapid
decline has been under way for 6
straight years, long enough to
Courts & the Seashore
represent a real trend, reports
Velador, the newsletter of the To the relief of many if not all environmentalists in central Florida’s
Caribbean Conservation Corporation. Volusia County, US District Judge Gregory Presnell rejected a citizen lawsuit
Ehrhart told the 25th Annual Interna- claiming that by allowing beach driving the county was harming five federally
tional Sea Turtle Symposium that the endangered turtle species as well as the piping plover. The plaintiffs—home-
Carr refuge data “are generally owner and sea turtle advocate Shirley Reynolds and developer and property
mirrored statewide.” At the confer- rights advocate Robert Godwin—also claimed that the US Fish and Wildlife
ence coastal development, shoreline Service had violated its own rules by allowing motor vehicles on the beach. In his
armoring, and several years of cold 35-page opinion, Judge Presnell noted a “considerable history of conservation
water in the Atlantic were advanced and Endangered Species Act enforcement issues in this dispute” since an original
as possible reasons for the precipi- complaint from Reynolds in 1995, including turtle monitoring, the construction of a
tous drop. turtle rehabilitation center, lighting laws, and other measures. “The Conservation-
ists,” Presnell continued, “seem to believe that what is ‘necessary’ for the protec-
On South Carolina’s Lowcounty tion of a listed species is procedural quagmires, uncompromising administrative
shores, however, reported The oversight, and scorched-earth litigation. Congress has not mandated such an
Beaufort Gazette, loggerhead nesting utter waste of resources.” Many turtle-loving observers applauded the decision,
is up. Hunting, Fripp, Hilton Head, agreeing with the judge that the County has done a pretty good job of protecting
and Harbor Islands were all scoring nesting turtles, and finding that on Volusia’s wide, hard Atlantic beaches there is
solid gains over 2004, with the plenty of room for them and sensitively regulated motor vehicle traffic as well.
August end of the nesting season still
far off. One reason cited for the In North Carolina’s Washington and Beaufort counties, grassroots
comeback is the drop in the number activists scored another round when a federal appeals court upheld a prior ruling
of shrimp trawlers, which even when against the US Navy from US District Judge Terrence Boyle. The Navy wants to
equipped with escape holes continue (Continued, p. 5)
5
to snare turtles. A state Department
of Natural Resources official counted
PCB Cleanup Delays only 137 shrimp boats on this year’s
opening day—down from more than
400 five years ago.
For decades until the 1970s, General Electric dumped toxic chemicals
called polycarbonated byphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River, with serious Each spring a 5-ounce shorebird
consequences up and down the food chain. Before the possible carcinogen was called the red knot undertakes a
banned in 1977, the company had disposed of some 1.2 million pounds of PCBs in dramatic 10,000 mile flight from
the river, of which a contaminated portion was declared a Superfund site in 1984. Tierra del Fuego, Argentina to Arctic
breeding grounds. In past years, as
After a decade of careful research, EPA concluded in 2001 that dredging many as 100,000 of these birds
was the best solution vs. other possible solutions that the company had proposed. paused at Delaware Bay, exhausted,
After years of opposing the dredging, the company at last agreed to it, signing an to fatten up on horseshoe crab eggs
agreement with the agency in February 2002, and began to shell out cash toward before continuing northward. 32,000
the total $500 million that designing and implementing the cleanup was expected arrived in the bay in 2002, but only
to cost the legally responsible company. about 13,600 in 2004 and 15,300 this
year. While the uptick is mildly
Yet as recently as this year, when actual dredging was scheduled to encouraging, the bird’s overall
begin, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported that the company was still stalling. situation remains “dire,” says
Language “written largely” by the company, calling for the National Academy of endangered species biologist Larry
Sciences to conduct yet another dredging study, crept into a bill being shaped in Niles at New Jersey’s Department of
the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies subcommittee of the House Environmental Protection. One
Appropriations Committee. reason is a shortage of horseshoe
crabs, badly overharvested prior to
Observers expressed fears that passage of this measure would delay the 2003 when curbs were installed in
dredging at least until 2007 if not forever. The episode served to illustrate the several states. Competition from
limits to GE’s newly stated and much-ballyhooed commitment to laughing gulls and bad weather in
“ecomagination.” South America are cited as other
reasons for the decline, which
Environmentalists and the media reacted hotly. “Dredging delays are authorities say could lead to extinc-
intolerable,” headlined the Journal. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles tion in another 5 years unless drastic
Schumer took steps to remove the proposal from the bill’s Senate version and measures (an outright ban on
declare further study to be unnecessary. With its fate still pending resolution in horseshoe crab harvesting, federal
House-Senate conference to reconcile differences between the two versions, endangered species listing) are taken.
environmental groups issued a demand that EPA either order the company to do
the cleanup now, or conduct it itself. The near-total disappearance of cod
from Canada’s East Coast waters,
says a new study, has led to a
Courts & the Seashore, Continued from p. 4 “cascade effect” bringing dramatic
change to the food chain. With the
decline of cod and other large
use 33,000 acres in the region as an airfield for pilots from nearby air stations to
predators, the herring and other
practice aircraft carrier landings (Atlantic CoastWatch, January-February 2005).
species they preyed on have thrived
Respecting opponents’ claims that this activity would harm large flocks of migra-
and, reports Canadian Press, “are
tory swans, geese and ducks that frequent a nearby wildlife refuge, as well as the
now dominating the marine world.”
tax base, Boyle ordered a permanent injunction barring the Navy from construc-
The cod may never recover its former
tion on the site. While the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA did not
domination, said Ken Frank of the
overturn Boyle, it also heartened the Navy by agreeing to hear the case.
Bedford Institute of Oceanography
and co-author of the study published
In a major Florida victory for sprawl, a three-judge panel at the Fourth
in Science.
District Court of Appeals in Palm Beach disregarded environmentalists’ protesta-
tions and approved an environmental permit for developing a remote, 1,920 acre
orange grove called Mecca Farms in northern Palm Beach County. With enthusi- Restorations
astic support from the state government, The Scripps Research Institute has long
planned to build a biotechnology campus on the county-owned site, including Massachusetts’ once badly polluted
residential units, offices, labs, stores and so on. Fearful that the project would Charles River continues to show signs
move elsewhere if further delays were encountered, the county commissioners of recovery, with the EPA reporting
soon after the court ruling voted unanimously in favor of beginning construction that in 2004 it was safe for swimming
this summer even though the project still faces at least three more legal chal- 54% of the time and 96% safe for
lenges. At risk is $137 million to be spent on construction that in the future a judge boating. The equivalent figures in
might order demolished. 1995 were 19% and 39%. The river
got a high B+ rating from the agency
vs. B- in 2003. The elimination of one
6
million gallons of illegal sewage
discharges is stated as a principal
reason for the improvement, with
creative public-private partnerships Bold Vision for MA Forests
getting much of the credit. In what
was said to be something of a In 1830, states the Harvard Forest’s new Wildlands and Woodlands
miracle, the lower Charles, its most report, Massachusetts was almost fully denuded of forest cover. But by the mid-
heavily used stretch, remained safe 1800s, as agriculture declined, the forests began to return. Currently the state is
for swimming throughout last 60% forested, ranking eighth in the nation. Without getting bogged in detail, the
summer. Harvard Forest report broadly advocates bold measures to keep the state half
forested even as it faces new threats and “relentless development pressure.”
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this
year is the Hackensack River Eco- Of the state’s 5 million acres, 250,000 would consist of unmanaged
Cruise program run by Hackensack wildland reserves, mostly on land already in public hands. And an additional 2.25
Riverkeeper captains Bill Sheehan million acres, in private as well as public hands, would be managed so as to
and Hugh Carola. Some 30,000 support biodiversity, enable “sustainable resource production such as timber,
people have now taken the program’s wildlife, and clean water,” provide ecosystem services as well as “extensive
2+ hour nature cruises through the recreational, educational, aesthetic and spiritual experience” in a “permanently
once-fetid New Jersey Meadowlands, forested landscape.” Ample land would remain available for residential and
where a stirring restoration effort has commercial development and forest harvesting.
taken place. “I knew in 1995 that if
we were ever going to save the The Harvard researchers go on to advocate a three-decade effort by
Meadowlands we had to get people Massachusetts citizens and public officials “to achieve this Wildlands and Wood-
out into it so they could see it for lands vision.” Much of the implementation would be coordinated via regional
themselves. If I hadn’t been able to Woodland Councils “to promote the protection and sustainable management of
do that, no way we could have been working woodlands.” Reactions already in hand include a favorable Boston Globe
as successful as we have.” editorial and much additional media coverage; many invitations for the research-
ers to present their findings to interested groups; proposals for pilot protection
Reports projects that would fit into the matrix; and expressions of interest in finding
innovative ways to finance the vision’s implementation.
A sea kayak at sea is “hard to see,” www.harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu
regardless of wave height or weather
conditions, reports Maine Sea Grant.
After extensive testing, researchers
found that kayaks more than a mile
McMansion Tensions
away are “rarely visible on radar,
whether or not they have radar No one has yet come up with a firm definition of these oversize houses
reflectors.” The better news: within a that are bursting forth everywhere, especially close to the shore where many
mile reflectors do make a difference, people want to live. But the New York Times recently hit the nail close to the head
which could mean a lot considering by describing them as “houses from 3,000 to 10,000 square feet with entrances
that a motorboat cruising at 15 knots like Tara, windows like European cathedrals and garages like small municipal
covers a quarter of a nautical mile in lots.”
60 seconds. The best kind of reflec-
tor, the study found, is not a commer- While many Americans until recently remained satisfied with the smaller
cial product but “a homemade foil size ranch houses and colonials that are typical of US suburbs, says the National
hat.” Association of Home Builders, the average house size has jumped upward of
late—from 1,905 square feet in 1987 to 2,320 square feet in 2002. With concur-
In October 2002, says The Washing- rent reductions in the average size of lots, more and more owners have replaced
ton Post, Maine’s Department of the older, smaller home with a bulkier one reaching out to the edges of the lot.
Natural Resources asked EPA to The number of teardowns is rapidly rising in many New York area communities.
analyze water samples for evidence
of what is widely seen as a growing The new McMansions, continued the Times, “present neighbors with a
problem: seepage into waterways of sudden expanse of towering wall to look at, blocking sunlight, altering the
such prescription drugs as antide- streetscape and even changing the character of the neighborhood.” Such
pressants and birth control pills. Two apprehensions are leading to tighter zoning in several Queens communities to
and a half years later Ann Pistell, preserve residential communities and even, said Newsday, “require that new
environmental specialist in the homes match the front lawn space of adjacent houses.”
department, received a partial report
without a detailed explanation. But not everybody is happy. The new rules may force new homes to look
“We’re sort of baffled and frustrated like those built at Levittown during the post-World War II years, some feared.
by the lack of a sample analysis,” she Others, a New Jersey Builders Association representative told the Times,
told the Post. “We see this is an worried that the new ordinances could have an economic impact, driving home
emerging issue. The more we find buyers, builders, and businesses from communities trying to limit house size.
7
out, the more concerned we are.”
With little evidence of federal con-
cern, the paper continued, state
Red Tide, Continued from p. 1 officials are beginning to organize an
information-sharing network.
Alexandrium fundyensis, the algae that causes the New England variant
of red tide, does not at present levels harm swimmers or fish. It is not quite as In Frederiksted, St. Croix, report
troublesome as one Florida species which in high concentrations can pollute the scientists from New York’s Long
air as well as the water. But in New England, though eating the flesh of lobsters, Island University and the University
fish and scallops is safe, the local version can still kill a human being by suffocation of Puerto Rico, untreated sewage is
as a result of eating a single shellfish which has concentrated the neurotoxin in its regularly released and nearly 30% of
digestive system. Even seabirds are affected by eating shellfish. Areas with coral was infected with disease. In a
problematic levels of red tide in the water or toxins in the animals are closed to nearby area where no sewage is
harvesting, and the origins of shellfish closely tracked to prevent poisoning. released, they found only 3 or 4%
infected with the same ailments.
The large expanse of high red tide concentrations causes problems until Biologist Longin Kaczmarsky, co-
shellfish can purge themselves of the toxin. Also, because the life of these vastly author of the study published in the
multiplied algae ends with the deposit of cysts on the ocean floor, the wide Caribbean Journal of Science, said
geographical spread of this year’s red tide could mean problems in the future. In that raw sewage is “a major factor
1978 the spreading bloom “seeded” Nauset marsh in Massachusetts, which since contributing to coral disease.”
then has had its own annual red tide. Surveying the ocean floor last year,
scientists found a significant increase in cysts from 1977. Products

The closure of the shellfishing beds has put a severe economic crimp in For decades visionaries had been
the lives of those who depend on the harvest. On their behalf, efforts are being dreaming of “harnessing the Bay of
made to expedite small business loans and unemployment insurance. But the Fundy tides” for energy, and in 1984
closures have recently been extended to federal waters, up to 100 miles offshore, such a plant was actually built in
and a federal ban now in place applies to all shellfishers. Accordingly, Governors Canada. Now at last plans are in
Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and John Baldacci of Maine have declared states progress to bring the technology to
of emergency but were denied federal disaster assistance. And said a Nantucket the US: Verdant Power of Arlington,
Sound oyster grower at the end of June, “It’s still coming.” VA has received permission from one
federal agency to install 6 turbines on
the bottom of New York’s fast-flowing
Leading the Way in SC East River, near the shore, to bring
power to a supermarket and parking
garage on Roosevelt Island. Assum-
Too often, scientists and environmentalists are sidelined while develop- ing success with this test phase,
ment and resulting environmental degradation take place, and only later have a which still requires approvals from
chance to go in and measure the damage. Not so at the 3,500 acre Arcadia East the US Army Corps of Engineers and
project north of Georgetown, SC, where concerned landowners are making sure New York State’s Department of
that environmental impacts are recorded from the get-go. Environmental Conservation, Verdant
plans to place up to 300 turbines in
Completion of all plans for the site, which will include the usual mix of golf the river to power some 8,000 homes,
course, residences, a hotel and business facilities, is expected to take 15 years. and is helping to plan tide-harnessing
Phase I ground will not break for a year or more while permits are granted and projects in other cities such as San
detailed plans made. Meanwhile, with the enthusiastic support of members of the Francisco with swift-flowing currents.
Vanderbilt family, owners of the land, scientists of the Baruch Institute of Coastal Since the technology does not require
Ecology and Forest Science are already compiling baseline data on the site. tidal barrages but instead involves
“free flow turbine” modules that can
“We’re tickled to death,” says wetlands specialist William Conner. “We’ll easily be hauled out in case of
have maybe a couple of years to gather information on everything from water to trouble, opposition is almost nil.
wildlife—birds, plants and everything else. It’s a great opportunity. The develop-
ers and our Institute have a long history together, and they’re just really con- Maine’s first sardine cannery opened
cerned about doing it right. Already we’re out there on a small scale, and we hope in 1875, and at the industry’s peak in
that we’ll soon have enough funding to be out there big scale.” 1900 no fewer than 75 canneries
employing 6,000 people were
Discipline is also being imposed on the developers themselves. “The arrayed along the rocky shoreline.
family is very diligent,” says James Haden, principal at the Charlotte, NC planning Now, reports The Associated Press,
and landscape architecture firm HadenStanziale. “We’re putting in far greater there is only one left: the Stinson
buffers than we have to, wildlife corridors, all kinds of extras.” It is expected that Seafood plant in Gouldsboro oper-
as time goes on the scientists will come forward with recommendations for ated by Bumble Bee. Global competi-
modifications in the design. Overall, what emerges is a Cordon Bleu recipe for tion is one reason for the decline,
environmentally sensitive development. changing technology another.
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 for continued free services

A further major factor: younger


people simply are not into canned
Appreciation
sardines, which reach no more than
about 15% of US households. But We extend special thanks, for their most generous donations, to Nina
with an aging population and claims Rodale Houghton, Lawrence S. Huntington, Decatur and Sally Miller and
of health benefits, Stinson expects Hamilton Robinson Jr., and warm appreciation to these others who in May and
production and sales to increase. June also extended most welcome and badly needed support to the Atlantic
CoastWatch program:

Soy biodiesel, nontoxic and biode- Lawrence Coolidge Mrs. Curt Muser and George Muser
gradable, made its first nautical Helen Evarts Mrs. A. Wright Palmer
appearance in the mid-Atlantic, when Florence B. Fowlkes Hector Prud’homme
Delaware’s Indian River Marina Anita Herrick John A.H. Shober
began offering it to boat owners. Edward L. Hoyt Anne and Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff
State and private agencies ap- William A. Kern Sally Wardwell
plauded, saying it would help local Anthony D. Knerr Robert G. Wilmers
soybean growers as well as the Caroline Macomber Alexander Zagoreos
environment.

Funding
Recovery at the Bank
After a four-year legal battle Ever-
green International, the large Tai- Georges Bank, reports the University of Rhode Island (URI) “is among
wanese container shipping firm, one of the most biologically productive marine areas on the eastern seaboard,
pleaded guilty to having illegally supporting a large, lucrative fishery. Despite its high productivity, by the early
discharged oil near US ports and 1990s several of the area’s commercially important fish stocks were showing
agreed to a record-breaking $25 signs of decline. Overfishing and the degradation of essential fish habitat (EFH)
million fine. Of the five afflicted are among some of the proposed explanations for the reduced stock size of
areas, one is the Port of New York Georges Bank fish populations. Much of the damage affecting EFH has been
and New Jersey and another is linked to bottom fishing using otter trawls and scallop dredges. In order to foster
Charleston, SC. Each judicial district the recovery of fish stocks, approximately 25% of the bank was closed to bottom
receives a flat $3 million. In New fishing in 1994.”
Jersey the Sandy Hook Division of
the Gateway National Recreation “To better understand how bottom fishing impacts benthic organisms,
Area was also awarded $1 million for researchers from URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) and the US
improvements. The Edwin B. Geological Survey (USGS) set out in 1994 to survey the benthic megafaunal
Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in community of Georges Bank. Initial results of studies examining closed areas
Ocean City and the Cape May have revealed several promising signs of recovery, including increased spawn-
National Wildlife Refuge get $500,000 ing stock biomass of cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder. Even more dramati-
each. In South Carolina, the National cally, sea scallop biomass has increased 14-fold in unfished areas. The designa-
Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s tion of the Georges Bank closed areas has also positively impacted benthic
Southern region got $2 million, megafaunal species, which provide food and habitat for commercially important
mostly for coastal conservation. fishes.” http://seagrant.gso.uri.edu/research/georges_bank