You are on page 1of 9

Atlantic CoastWatch November - December, 2006

Looking Back and Forward

The charter issue of this publication, dated December 1997, included News For Coastal Advocates
articles on goals for the Chesapeake, Hudson River PCBs, and protection for
horseshoe crabs on New Jersey and Delaware beaches. Plus ca change. This issue,
celebrating the completion of the tenth year of Atlantic CoastWatch, provides
updates on those very same matters. But much has happened, for better and z
worse, during this period. Perspectives and priorities have changed. And rather
than turn over our opinion section to guest authors, as is our usual practice, we Looking Back and Forward 1
thought it timely to offer our own balance sheet as to where things seem to stand
environmentally along the shoreline of our concern, from the Canadian Maritimes
down through the eastern Caribbean. Warming & the Hudson 1

Threats to biodiversity have loomed far larger. We applaud the spirited Courts & the Seashore 3
comeback of the striped bass, the bald eagle, and the brown pelican, the two latter
because of the crackdown on DDT usage. But a decade ago we did not foresee the Land Conservation Soars 3
speed at which many populations of plants and animals have declined or suffered
pollution-related deformities. No one then was forecasting the demise of the red Publications 4
knot, a familiar shorebird to many of us, or calls for the backyard cerulean warbler
to be placed on the endangered species list, or right whales at the brink of disap-
NY Nixes Trashed Batteries 4
pearance, or the loss of virtually all the world’s coral reefs before long, or the widely
predicted total extinction of the polar bear, or the possibility that the world will soon
be all but fully without viable commercial fisheries in the wild even though fishery Progress on Highlands 5
management practices have improved somewhat.
Water Worries 5
Nor, though the greenhouse effect and global warming were commonplace
topics in many scientific communities a decade ago, had the forecasts of violent Chesapeake: Give & Take 6
weather, inundations and impacts on conditions in specific regions become any-
where nearly as sharp or as ominous or as real as they are today. The devastations Setback for Ghost Fleet 6
of Hurricane Katrina, and the advent of the film An Inconvenient Truth, have jarred
us loose from complacency and complaints of scientific exaggerations, and made us
face reality far more squarely. Yes, low-lying islands along the shoreline will soon Lighthouse Future Debated 7
disappear. Flooding will affect more of us. Yes, insurance companies will more
often red-line protection for beachfront homeowners. Yes, occupants of the coastal Mansionization Attacks Cape 8
zone are bound to be affected more and more by these trends, just as they are by
$3-a-gallon gasoline, and there is no insulation that works. z
(Continued, p. 2)

Global Warming & the Hudson Valley
People; Awards; Species &
These days, increasing numbers of public officials are reaching beyond the Habitats; Restorations;
remaining scientific uncertainties about global warming to focus on the specifics of Report Cards; Products;
what needs to be done to prepare for assuredly hotter weather and rising waters. Funding
One example is a recent conference in Poughkeepsie, “Climate Change in New
York’s Hudson Valley,” organized by the state’s Department of Environmental Atlantic CoastWatch is a bimonthly
Conservation and the Hudson River Environmental Society that attracted an nonprofit newsletter for those con-
overflow crowd of 400 participants to discuss the hard realities. cerned with environmentally sound
development between the Gulf of
At the meeting, scientists offered a long list of prospectively rapid changes Maine and the eastern Caribbean.
in the region during the current century. Included among their forecasts were a
(Continued, p. 7)
Atlantic CoastWatch
Vol. 10, No. 6 Back and Forward, cont’d from p. 1
A project of the Sustainable Nor, even though the pace of US citizens’ rush to the shore was already
Development Institute, which rapid back then, did we foresee that the constraints on helter-skelter coastal
development that citizens tried to apply would be so generally ineffective.
seeks to heighten the environmen-
Maryland’s Critical Area law, imposing strict restrictions on development within
tal quality of economic develop- 1,000 feet of the shoreline, seemed to be a replicable model. But it has suffered
ment efforts, in coastal regions, by from lack of adequate enforcement mechanisms, and few other jurisdictions have
communicating information about worked up the political nerve to attempt such a protective crackdown. The coast
better policies and practices. SDI belongs ever more to developers with money to spare and the power to control
is classified as a 501(c)(3) organi- political forces. Even marinas are in jeopardy because taxes have soared and
zation, exempt from federal condominiums are more lucrative. Though some worthy souls are trying to
income tax. gerrymander a shoreline greenway between Florida and Maine, the more visible
outcome seems likely to be a virtually endless inter-urban strip of housing and
Board of Directors commercial development. Golf courses will add carefully manicured touches of
green here and there, as will occasional gated green enclaves for the very rich.
Freeborn G. Jewett, Jr., Chair
Robert J. Geniesse, Chair Emeritus On the other side of the ledger, we applaud the rise of responsible
Roger D. Stone, President brownfields developments in many places and are confident that these will add
Dale K. Lipnick, Treasurer much to the quality of life in many long downtrodden regions; the trick, of course, is
Gay P. Lord, Secretary building in affordable housing and other ways for the poor to benefit. Likewise, we
Hart Fessenden tip our hat to those who, recognizing that drinking water is a precious and ever
Nelse L. Greenway more threatened commodity, have worked to protect aquifers and reservoirs by
David P. Hunt putting into place broad land-use controls. Examples include the recent federal
Hassanali Mehran Highlands legislation to protect key conservation areas in New Jersey and neighbor
Simon Sidamon-Eristoff states, and the $1 billion a year Florida Forever initiative mentioned elsewhere in
this issue. Open-space ballot measures usually succeed. The coast needs people
Advisers who think big.

William H. Draper, III We note as well the considerable growth in citizen monitoring, as evi-
Gary Hartshorn denced by the rapid increase of watershed associations in many communities, and
Stephen P. Leatherman especially the emergence of the Waterkeeper Alliance as an effective force. And
Jerry R. Schubel as daily readers of small as well as big newspapers along the coast, we applaud the
Christopher Uhl considerable increase in the quality and quantity of their environmental reporting.
Beyond the often imaginative coverage by gifted reporters at large national papers
Staff such as the New York Times (Cornelia Dean, Andrew Revkin) and The Washington
Post (Michael Grunwald) we especially commend hard-digging, often prize-winning
Roger D. Stone, Director & President environmental reporting on coastal issues in such smaller papers as the Providence
Shaw Thacher, Project Manager Journal, Poughkeepsie Journal, The Record in New Jersey, and the St. Petersburg
Anita Herrick, Contributing Editor Times. These journals have done much to flag instances of poorly regulated
Robert C. Nicholas III, Contr. Editor corporate pollution, inadequate performance by state and federal agencies, and
admirable citizen actions. We tip our hat as well to the dedicated scientists whose
Foundation Donors research is the basis for many of those stories, and whose work has so greatly
sharpened our knowledge and understanding of environmental decline at every
Avenir Foundation level from planetary to community.
The Fair Play Foundation
The Madriver Foundation The stark realities triggered by global warming have done much to arouse
The Moore Charitable Foundation new awareness among people, a far clearer sense of what is the “right thing” to
The Curtis and Edith Munson do. As individuals, people are responding. For all the proliferation of SUVs and
Foundation McMansions, note the rapid recent rise of interest in low-emissions, high gas
The Summit Fund of Washington mileage cars, backyard conservation, organic foods. “Green” architecture has
become trendy, no longer confined to a niche. The task now is to transfer these
Sponsored Project personal values into energy and political will that, despite the valiant efforts of
countless citizens and small groups, still remains in generally short supply at the
15th Annual Environmental Film broader level. That’s the major challenge for the immediate years ahead. The
Festival in the Nation’s Capital challenge for Atlantic CoastWatch, in these fast-changing times where some things
March 15 - 25, 2007 remain the same or fall further behind, is to do its utmost to provide information
Featuring screenings of documentary, that helps citizens form brave new agendas for environmentally based economic
feature, archival and animated films. planning and orderly progress along the coastline. By Roger D. Stone, Director & President

Courts & the Seashore After 6 successful years as head of

Duke University’s Nicholas School of
the Environment and Earth Sciences,
z Finally, after endless delays, US District Judge David Hurd has signed off
environmental scientist William H.
on an agreement between General Electric and the EPA that will enable the
Schlesinger is shifting his flag to the
company to begin dredging PCBs out of the Hudson River by spring 2008. Dredging
Institute for Ecosystem Studies in
is to take place along about 43 miles of the river, from Hudson Falls to Troy, and is
Millbrook, NY. To become its presi-
but the first phase of a $700 million project to remove PCBs dumped into the river
dent in June of next year, Schlesinger
from two GE plants from the 1940s until the practice was outlawed in 1977.
will head one of the largest and most
impressive ecological programs
z As part of a $71 million project to replenish 18 miles of beach on Long
anywhere, with multiple activities in
Beach Island, NJ, the state government seeks the right to bring equipment across
the Hudson Valley and the world over.
lands along the shorefront. At the behest of the federal government it has asked
that these easements be permanent. Five of the affected landowners said no, on
In Wellfleet, MA, the widely beloved
the grounds that signing over rights in perpetuity would constitute an illegal taking.
and respected fishing reporter and
The state filed a suit to force the property owners to capitulate, but Superior Court
columnist Molly (“Benjy”) Benjamin
Judge Vincent Grasso turned it down, arguing that perpetuity is too long. Grasso
died at age 60. A native Mainer who
went on to suggest a not universally popular alternative: eminent domain.
lived on Cape Cod from the 1970s on,
Benjamin won wide acclaim in the
z In 2004, writes conservationist Michele Byers in the Asbury Park Press,
Cape’s almost all-male fishing commu-
New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection mandated 300-foot buffers
nity. Her Cape Cod Times columns,
to protect the state’s cleanest, “Category 1” waters including the Shark,
said editor Paul Pronovost, were
Manasquan, and Metdeconk rivers from nonpoint source pollution. Developers
“must-reads for people with no
contested the rule, arguing that “the DEP was dabbling in land use decisions that
interest in fishing.” “She was a one-
fall outside their jurisdiction. ”During the course of a two year legal battle, the
of-a-kind character who was pure
state’s Appellate Court rejected the suit brought by the New Jersey Builders
Yankee,” the paper added, “big-
Association. More recently the state Supreme Court, by refusing to hear the
hearted, generous, outspoken and
developers’ appeal, and thus upholding the appeals court’s ruling, did what Byers
never failed to make an impression.”
called “a great thing for our state and our water resources.”

Land Conservation Soars At its annual conference the Society
of Environmental Journalists gave
According to the nonprofit Land Trust Alliance, private land conserved by major awards to two newspapers
state and local land trusts more than tripled between 2000 and 2005, bringing the covering the Atlantic shoreline. Top
total number of US acres in conservation to 37 million—an area 16½ times the size prize went to the St. Petersburg Times
of Yellowstone National Park. Of 10 top-ranking states in terms of highest total for its coverage of vanishing Florida
acres protected, six are along the Atlantic seaboard: Maine, Virginia, New York, wetlands. Second place was won by
Vermont, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. the Bergen County, NJ Record for its
series called “Toxic Legacy” about
Almost as impressive are figures showing citizens’ response to ballot illegal pollution from the Ford Motor
measures proposing public funds to protect land for parks and open space. Nation- Company plant in Mahwah. In the
ally, reports the Trust for Public Land, voters approved an all-time record $5.7 Outstanding Radio Reporting, Small
billion in such funding, vs. $1.5 billion in conservation ballot initiatives in 2005. Markets category, the top award went
While the 2006 figure is inflated because California’s mammoth $2.25 billion to the Maine Public Broadcasting
Proposition 84 is included, the overall results nonetheless represent substantial Network for its program “Dirty
affirmation of citizen determination to protect open space and drinking water. Dealings at Maine’s DEP.”
Notable among eastern states was New Jersey, where voters approved a record
$751 million in conservation funding. 99 out of 127 measures were approved. A Preservation Honor Award from the
National Trust for Historic Preserva-
In many states voters also responded to the controversial Kelo vs. New tion went to the venerable
London Supreme Court decision awarding public jurisdictions the right to exercise Wentworth by the Sea Hotel & Spa in
the power of eminent domain for the sake of private development. Of 11 states Portsmouth, NH. Dating from 1874,
considering measures barring governments from using eminent domain to take the hotel experienced various ups and
private property for private use, four Atlantic states—Florida, Georgia, South downs, culminating in such disrepair
Carolina, and New Hampshire—overwhelmingly approved them. during the 1980s that demolition was
threatened. In the 1990s, after the
One local measure that did not go through was a North Topsail Beach, NC National Trust had designated the
referendum calling for a $34 million bond issue to finance beach replenishment. hotel as one of its 11 Most Endan-
Voters overwhelmingly rejected the measure largely, reported the Jacksonville gered Historic Places, a Friends of the
Daily News, because it called for local people to pay back 80% of the bond. Wentworth group was formed.
Reopened in 2003 after extensive
reconstruction, the hotel had, said
National Trust president Richard Moe,
undergone a dramatic transition from Publications
“teetering on the edge of extinction to
undergoing a meticulous and glorious z In the November 2006 issue of Chesapeake Quarterly, published by the
restoration.” Maryland Sea Grant Program, author Erica Goldman tidily summarizes what
scientists forecast for the Bay as a result of global warming. It is not a pretty
James Cummins of the Interstate picture: sea level rise of perhaps a meter by the end of the century, twice the norm
Commission on the Potomac River because the land is subsiding as well; greater rainfall; increased susceptibility to
Basin (ICPRB) was named one of Field storm surges accompanying growing numbers of bad storms; heightened wave
and Stream magazine’s Heroes of action because the Bay is shallow; loss of eelgrass and threats to many plant and
Conservation. Cummins was cited for animal species because of warming water; “no real plan” to account for sea level
having worked since 1995, with rise in planning for development; scant political will to address the issues.
minimum funding and assistance from
thousands of school students, to stock z Former sportswriter turned realtor Frank Branscombe is the voluble
more than 17 million shad fry in the central figure in the new Richard Ford novel The Lay of the Land (Knopf 2006). No
Potomac, and taken fish from there to less distinctive a character in the book is the dreary stretch of New Jersey seacoast
restock the Rappahannock and landscape, a jumble of Jiffy Lubes and Dunkin Donuts and Targets, that Ford’s
Susequehanna rivers. aging, ailing hero trundles along, his well-used Suburban lashed, as one reviewer
put it, “to the railing of mundane daily life.”
Species & Habitats
z In Shadow Divers (Random House 2004), author Robert Kurson traces the
Since 2002, reports the New England six-year course of a challenging effort to confirm and explore the alleged wreck of a
Estuarine Research Society (NEERS), German U-Boat sunk in 60 feet of water only 60 miles off the New Jersey coast.
scientists and wetlands managers Countering widespread skepticism that the boat found in 1991 with no identifying
have reported sudden outbreaks of marks could really have been a German sub, the divers of Kurson’s story face
vegetation losses that could not be grave dangers as they painstakingly bring up china with swastikas, the date
explained by usual New England “1942,” and even the remains of the 56-man crew.
causes such as ice, wrack, or con-
sumption by geese, muskrats or other z In the Chesapeake Bay area, reports The Capital in Annapolis, there is “a
herbivores. Sudden Wetlands growing group of authors and illustrators who focus on environmental titles for
Diebacks (SWDs) have been noted children.” Chesapeake-related works on heavy demand at local libraries and
along several portion of Cape Cod’s bookstores include the Chadwick the Crab series by author Priscilla Cummings and
southern shoreline and along the illustrator Marcy Dunn Ramsey (Cornell Maritime Press/Tidewater Publishers);
Connecticut shore as well as in Waterman’s Child by Barbara Mitchell with illustrations by Daniel San Souci
Georgia and South Carolina. NEERS is (Lothrop Lee & Shepard 1997), and Turtles in My Sandbox by Jennifer Keats Curtis
offering its website, as a focal point for with illustrations by Emanuel Schongut (Sylvan Dell Publishing 2006). Also recently
commentary about these mysterious published: While a Tree Grew by Elaine Rich Bachmann and illustrator Kim Harrell
losses and lists 8 key questions for (Cornell Maritime Press/Tidewater Publishers 2006), a book about the recently
researchers to explore. fallen 460-year-old Wye Oak, Maryland’s most famous tree.

Improved protection for the Florida NY Nixes Trashed Batteries

panther has, reports the New York
Times, swelled its numbers from near
Borrowing from the European concept of manufacturer responsibility, New
extinction to a population of about 100
York City has banned rechargeable batteries and cell phones from its waste
in the 2.5 million acre Florida Panther
stream. But rather than dump rechargeables into special bins, users will either
National Wildlife Refuge and several
have to return them for disposal by the retailers selling the products, and ultimately
other protected habitats in the
by the companies that made them, or face fines of $50 and up. Sponsors say that
souithwestern Everglades. But
the battery bill, introduced by Oliver Koppell, the same city councilman who
threats lurk. Attacks on domestic
sponsored the city’s successful glass bottle recycling program 25 years ago, will not
animals do little to increase the
only cut down on toxic contamination in landfills and incinerators, but will also
panther’s popularity. Road kills
reduce the city’s waste disposal costs.
remain all too frequent. And as
development of adjacent regions rolls
Already, reports the Staten Island Advance, 350 retailers in the city are
on, said biologist Larry Richardson of
displaying collection boxes. Boxes are out at stores that will then return the
the US Fish and Wildlife Service, “my
material to manufacturers. They and retailers face heavy fines if they fail to
concern is that the panther will
cooperate. The recycleable battery program, reports the Advance, is also the
become a zoo relic. If we build out
opening wedge in a broader attack on the city’s new effort to recycle electronic
even half the potential of what the
waste. Other recycling targets in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 20 year garbage
state says we can, forget about the
plan that was passed by the City Council last summer: computers and TV sets.
Joining New Jersey, Delaware has
placed a two year ban on the harvest
Progress on Highlands Greenbelt of all horseshoe crabs. Commercial
fishermen, who use the crabs as bait
in conch, eel, and other fisheries,
In 2004, to considerable fanfare, President Bush signed into law the expressed disappointment. Others
Highlands Conservation Act. The law regulates many forms of development across lauded the move for the sake of
the mountain chain from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York into Connecticut regional consistency and the red knot,
that protects drinking water and provides recreational opportunities for 15 million a shorebird which feeds on horseshoe
people in the region as well as habitat for many wildlife species. crab eggs at a key point in its annual
migration to Arctic breeding grounds.
Shortly beforehand, the governor of New Jersey, the keystone Highlands Nicholas DiPasquale of Delaware
state, had signed similar legislation. The New Jersey Highlands Council was Audubon called the move “a thor-
formed under the law to produce a master plan to guide development in that state’s oughly courageous act.”
portion of the region. Recently the 12-member council released a draft of this plan
which, when finally approved, will put tight limits on development across a 843,000 Restorations
acre swath of the state from the Delaware River to Mahwah.
A startup project focusing on Lewis
As drafted the plan calls for the creation of a 557,507 acre Protection Zone Bay, MA will coordinate the monitor-
for forests and other water supply lands, a Conservation Zone where 152,227 acres ing of water quality and oyster health
of farmland are to be protected, and a Planned Community Zone where develop- and growth. The Great Island Oyster
ment will be allowed. The aim is for the state to buy development rights in most of Co. for many years a source of prime
this area, and also for developers to do so in designated growth areas. This aquaculture oysters, has combined
market-driven approach involved collaboration between the council, Environmental with the new Lewis Bay Research
Defense, and the tri-state Regional Plan Association. Center, a nonprofit, to provide
continuous monitoring of the water
$750 million in funds to implement the Highlands program over ten years quality (e.g., salinity, oxygen content,
are intended to come from local, county, or state sources. An important recent pH, nitrates, temperature and turbid-
allocation of this sort was $13.5 million from New York state’s Environmental ity) using a YSI 6600EDS sonde sensor
Protection Fund to acquire from a developer a key, 575 acre tract that will complete connected to the internet. The group
a decades-long struggle to preserve all of Sterling Forest in New Jersey’s Passaic plans to put more of these instruments
and New York’s Orange counties. The latest deal put an end to previous proposals at strategic sites in Louis Bay. Mean-
for luxury homes, a golf course, and even a city for 35,000 people in the forest, and while the oyster company which has
guarantees that the area will remain undisturbed. suffered growing losses of its crop is
experimenting with putting bags in
For all the forward motion, much work remains to be done before the plan summer out in deeper water offshore
for the New Jersey Highlands becomes final. And although the federal act autho- in Nantucket Sound. Preliminary
rizes $100 million for land acquisition and an additional $10 million for planning, the results of that appear promising.
US Congress has yet to appropriate a nickel for the program.

A similar effort was also recently

Water Worries launched by the St. Mary’s River
Watershed Association in southern
Unlike other regions that have reservoirs, dams, rivers, or lakes to bolster Maryland. With funding from the
their supplies of fresh water, Long Island, New York has only its underground National Fish and Wildlife and Abell
aquifers. And, says the New York Times, the fight over who is to control these foundations, the association has
resources “underscores the broader debate over Long Island’s entire water supply installed 20 oyster floats at ten private
for its nearly three million residents and future development.” While alarmists see docks on well protected waters along
a future without sufficient clean water, others argue with equal vehemence that the St. Mary’s River, once but no
there is nothing to worry about. longer a prolific oyster habitat. One
float in each pair contains live native
Currently this debate centers on the use of the Lloyd aquifer, which the oysters; the other dead ones for
Times calls the island’s “oldest, deepest, purest—and scariest—groundwater.” The comparative purposes. Faculty and
Suffolk County Water Authority, which expresses confidence about the island’s students at St. Mary’s College of
future water supply, currently seeks permission to dig into the Lloyd and use its Maryland are monitoring the floats to
water for 1.1 million customers. Others, noting excessive citizen consumption, measure water quality, biodiversity
growing numbers of wells tainted by saltwater intrusion and a witches’ brew of around the oysters, and their growth
other contaminants, feel that the Lloyd should be left untapped as a precious rate. The principal hypothesis being
reserve to tap when all else fails. tested is that the live oysters, con-
tained in bags near the water’s
A 1986 moratorium on drilling now protects the Lloyd. Whether that surface rather than on the muddy
protection will remain in force is up to the New York state’s Department of Environ- bottom, will grow to legal harvesting
mental Protection, whose commissioner can uphold the moratorium or scrap it. size faster than they would in the
wild—fast enough to avoid the
ravages of the MSX and Dermo
parasites that have devastated the
Chesapeake oyster crop in recent Chesapeake: Give and Take
years. The evidence will be in next fall.
The last minute Senate passage of an identical House bill authorizing the
Last summer officials from the John Smith National Historic Trail (Atlantic CoastWatch September-October. 2006)
Division of Marine Fisheries in provided ample time for its signature by the President on December 19 to mark the
Massachusetts and the US Fish and 400th anniversary of the date on which John Smith set off to found the first English
Wildlife Service collaborated to stock settlement in the New World.
1.8 million hatchery-raised baby shad
in the once heavily polluted Charles The trail will trace the route (thousands of miles) of Smith’s voyages
River. Sampling since then has been between 1607 and 1609. The National Park Service (NPS) will play a major role by
positive, though much remains providing focus and funding and help in organizing local efforts to showcase the
unknown about how well these fish Bay’s history and its ecological condition. One innovation will be talking buoys to be
have adapted to the habitat. The very provided by NOAA. As pointed out by Will Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay
fact that the experiment took place Foundation, Congress will have to provide funding in the next session to implement
encourages Anna Eleria, fish biologist the legislation.
at the Charles River Watershed
Association, which helped identify In a legislative disconnect, 2007 appropriations for the Chesapeake
stocking locations and continues to Gateways Network, a lively NPS-managed association of 140 museums, parks,
provide the program with monitoring wildlife refuges, historic sites and other institutions around the Bay that are well
and public education services. “The placed to interpret the trail, were not provided.
fact that the river is now healthy
enough to support American shad, While Congress has passed a continuing resolution to carry on the work of
which are very sensitive to pollution,” Federal agencies in the absence of normal appropriations, the language of the
she said in a Boston Globe interview, resolution (which usually does not allow for special exceptions) limits funding to the
“says a lot about the other options for lesser of previous year amounts or that carried in this year’s bill as passed by the
public recreation, not just fishing, but House (The House passes such bills first.) For the Gateways Network that amount
boating, sailing, and just walking along was zero.
the banks. We’ve got a clear, clean
river now that people can enjoy.” Thus Gateways, born in 1998, faces death unless remedial action is taken
early next year. Advocates note that the Senate version of the original bill included
Report Cards $1,625,000 for Gateways. If the program is to be revived, that sum must be
restored in January/February negotiations either for a continuing resolution to last
Halogenated organic compounds for all year or for a new budget. It is especially noted that, since few people
(HOCs), say scientists Emma Teuten interested in the Captain John Smith Trail will be able to experience it by boat,
and Christopher Reddy at the Woods Gateways partners if properly funded have a fine opportunity to provide interpre-
Hole Oceanographic Institution tive services about the Trail for their constituencies.
(WHOI), have properties similar to
those of toxic PCBs and the pesticide
DDT. These compounds, in industrial
production since the 1920s, are widely
New Setback for Ghost Fleet
distributed and degrade slowly. What
Teuten and Reddy have discovered It seems there is no end to the problem of dismantling the toxic “ghost
from analyzing pre-industrial whale oil fleet” of aged, degrading US naval vessels that for decades have clogged and
is that naturally produced HOCs fouled the waters around Norfolk. Progress seemed in prospect in 2003, when
“were accumulating in marine a British company called Able UK, in the town of Hartlepool, signed a contract to
mammals long before the human- scrap 13 of the ships in the fleet.
produced varieties.” The results of
the research, said Reddy, “should Nine of these were prohibited by US court order from being towed across
motivate science to consider the the Atlantic. Four others made it to Hartlepool that year and have remained tied up
ecological role and bioactivity of these there ever since. But they were greeted by public demonstrators arguing that
natural HOCs and how pre-exposure breaking them up there would make their town “a toxic waste dumping ground.”
to these compounds prepared This fall Hartlepool’s local council agreed after a four hour debate, barring the
bacteria, plants, and humans for dismantling on the grounds that it would harm the environment, tourism, wildlife,
industrial HOCs introduced during the and citizens’ health.
past century.”
Able, countering local opposition, stated that scrapping operations would
While creative people are finding new bring 200 new jobs to hardscrabble Hartlepool. The company said that it plans to
ways to revive the depleted oyster appeal. In the James River, meanwhile, most of the ghost fleet still lies in wait,
fishery along the Atlantic shoreline slowly seeping toxics into surrounding waters while authorities continue to look for
(see Restorations, this issue), ways to dispose of it.
scientists report that the tasty
bivalves face new threats from
exposure to cadmium, a common
Warming & the Hudson, cont’d from p. 1 heavy metal, in warm water. A study
using native East Coast oysters
month’s worth of summer days with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees F, and (Cassostrea virginica) was conducted
the entire absence of winter snow on the ground from the Catskills to Maine. jointly by German and US scientists
“Rising sea levels,” reported the Poughkeepsie Journal, “Could make the tidal and presented at the recent confer-
Hudson swamp railroad tracks, sewage treatment plants, homes and many ence of the American Physiological
wetlands that now absorb flood surges. Flooding and droughts will be more Society. It shows that half the oysters
common, as precipitation comes in short bursts.” Such predictions, the paper exposed to cadmium in 82-degree
added, are “considered conservative.” water died within 20 days; oysters
(Continued, Erratum) exposed to cadmium in lower-
temperature water showed a much
lower mortality rate. In the warmer
Lighthouse Future Debated water, noted lead researcher Gisela
Lannig of the Alfred Wegener Insti-
Montauk Point Lighthouse, an imposing 110-ft structure on Turtle Hill at the tute for Polar & Marine Research in
eastern tip of Long Island, NY, has a long and impressive history. The first light- Bremerhaven, oysters needed more
house in the US, it was commissioned in 1792 by President George Washington. oxygen than those in cooler water and
Construction was completed in 1796 and the light has been flashing ever since. were “either unable to obtain enough
Over the years, erosion has narrowed the gap between the light and the ocean oxygen, convert the oxygen they
from 300 feet to merely 50, and if something is not done the structure will soon obtained to energy, or both.”
topple into the sea. Opinions differ sharply on how to save it.
The Environmental League of Massa-
One option, favored by the US Army Corps of Engineers after completing a chusetts rates the state’s environ-
$1 million feasibility study, is to stem further erosion by leaving the lighthouse mental condition as “poor” in 13 of 20
where it is and building an 840 foot rock wall that would form a “protective neck- categories surveyed, and getting
lace” around the base of the bluff. This plan has the support of the owner, Montauk worse. Songbird losses, pollution
Historical Society. An alternative would be to move it farther inland, as was from commuters, and excessive water
successfully done with the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina. The people consumption received special atten-
at International Chimney, the company that pulled off the Hatteras move in 1999, tion in the league’s report. Good news
say that the $27 million Montauk project is feasible. noted included the state’s increasing
number of “green” buildings, high
Others argue that the Montauk light’s mortar has softened and that the drinking water quality, and fewer days
structure would collapse during such a move. Surfers who are members of the when the state failed to meet federal
eastern Long Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, fearing that the revetment air quality standards. The Chesa-
would disturb treasured wave action on the south side of the lighthouse, favor the peake likewise rated no more than a
retreat from the shore. Opponents also argue that the revetment could influence “D” from the Chesapeake Bay
currents and trigger environmental damage called “downdrift scouring” on Foundation. But its total score of 29
beaches to the west that have long been replenished by sand from the Montauk on a 100-point scale was the highest it
bluffs. Some coastal geologists envision only minimal harm of this sort. While the had ever awarded thanks largely to
brickbats fly, the Corps project remains in abeyance, pending federal funding for low spring rainfall resulting in below-
final design work and construction. Whatever happens, wrote Cornelia Dean in the normal flushing of nutrients and
New York Times, the outcome stands to reach beyond engineering to “become a pollutants into the bay.
statement about how we intend to live with our eroding coasts.”
Receiving wide attention was a report
on global warming from former World
With Appreciation Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas
Stern. Especially dire, says Caribbean
Net News, is Stern’s forecast for the
Our special thanks to the Fair Play Foundation and to Simon Sidamon- Caribbean. He predicts that global
Eristoff for their faithful and particularly generous support for our work, and to warming will generate: ocean acidifi-
these other much appreciated recent donors: cation; reduced fish stocks; extensive
reef bleaching; and powerful storms
Wendy W. Benchley William and Louisa Newlin and flooding.
Barry R. Bryan Mr. and Mrs. A. Wright Palmer
E. Paul Casey John Schafer
Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff
Robin Clarke
Louisa C. Duemling Mary M. Thacher
Founded on the basis of casual
Gardner Charitable Trust William Blunt White
discussions between mega-yacht
Leigh and Lynden Miller Katharine and George Woodwell
owners in 1998, the International
Gail S. Moloney
Seakeepers Society has become a
Atlantic CoastWatch
Sustainable Development Institute
3121 South St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

Tel: (202) 338-1017

Fax: (202) 337-9639

Tax-deductible contributions for Atlantic CoastWatch are urgently needed.

major supplier of oceans data. “We

are horrified by the deteriorating
condition of the seas. What can we
Mansionization Attacks Cape
do?” asked the owners. The answer:
develop and deploy a fully automated When it came into being in 1961, the 27,000 acre Cape Cod National
monitoring device called the Seashore was widely acclaimed as a shining model of federal land-use policy. This
Seakeeper 1000 that provides precise property, along with similar national seashores declared in California, North Caro-
measurements of air temperature, lina, and Texas, would constitute a new form of national park, protecting a largely
sea temperature, salinity and acidity pristine area from development and providing public access, but also allowing
to receiving stations . Fifty of the existing private property owners some rights.
units are now operating. A key role
for the equipment is its ability to Exactly what rights is now a matter of growing concern, reports Tracie
monitor ocean acidification, a major Rozhon of the New York Times. Enlarging or replacing houses on 600 privately
threat to corals and many other owned “inholdings” within the seashore, where new houses had been built before
marine species that is a result of the legislation came into force, has long been thought to be subject to guidelines
global warming. established by the National Park Service. It advised landholders to limit new
construction to no more than 50% larger than the old house. But what is now
becoming clear, says Rozhon, is that the NPS guidelines are not legally binding and
Funding that the real responsibility for managing development lies within the towns of the
seashore—Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown—and that their regulations
Already, says the Orlando Sentinel, may allow just the sort of mansionization that the seashore’s planners and many
about 27% of Florida’s land is some- locals had sought to avoid.
how protected as national forest,
military base, state property, or In one instance, a three acre property in Truro was up for sale for $1.5
private holdings dedicated to conser- million. Officials told Rozhon that “the town’s regulations would allow the new
vation. But with scientists claiming owner to build a 13-bedroom house on the property.” When an ordinance limiting
that 33% of the state should be under house size on Truro was introduced, local selectman Curtis Hartman observed, “it
conservation to safeguard native was withdrawn because it was clearly headed for an embarrassing failure. This is an
ecosystems, a group of environmen- area where property rights is king.”
tal organizations has come forward
with Florida Forever with the goal of While fears mount that more of the same is in the offing, others on the Cape
raising a flat $1 billion over ten years. worry about the fate of modest Modernist houses in the seashore that have historic
Much of this money would come from and architectural value. Some of these were built and later sold or donated to the
state taxes on real estate and legal federal government during the turbulent early years of the seashore, when the rules
transactions. But even this is a were also unclear, or occupied under long term leases that have now expired. Now
modest effort, claims The Nature these deteriorating houses lie vacant. Preservationists argue that leasing them to
Conservancy, which says that the individuals or nonprofit groups would keep them maintained during a time when the
state needs to acquire 2.3 million National Park Service lacks funds for that purpose. But, while there is some hope for
additional acres to link large conser- the future, the government does not currently allow leases of that sort. So on Cape
vation parcels together, protect rare Cod’s national seashore, in short, it seems that for the moment, despite many
species and recharge aquifers. The attempts to bring order to development, mansionization is making progress while
price tag: nearly $10 billion.
The following 3 paragraphs were mistakenly cut from “Global Warming and the Hudson
Valley”during the publishing process:

Warming & the Hudson, cont’d from p. 7

Suggestions as to how to brace the region for such changes included calls for legislation
to control greenhouse emissions and promote alternative technologies. Westchester County,
New York has set up a Global Warming Task Force to consider the issues, and New York City has
also carried out extensive planning. The Hudson River Estuary Program, a division of New York
State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, plans a number of follow-up activities.

Few local jurisdictions could match the on-the-ground response already made in the
town of Greenburgh in Westchester County, with a population of more than 80,000. In 2002
Greenburgh became the state’s first to require that all new homes meet federal Energy Star
standards in such categories as insulation, high performance windows, efficient hearting and
cooling units, lighting and appliances. A similar program for commercial construction is in the
works. The town has also undertaken a sustained effort to promote solar energy, placing solar
panels on Town Hall, and has undertaken a “green” expansion of its library. Now in the planning
stage is an energy efficient policy to guide the town’s purchases. “There’s so much that local
governments can do,” says Nicola Coddington, Greenburgh’s energy conservation coordina-
tor—a point she stressed in her presentation in Poughkeepsie.

Even in such fertile territory, she said, “it still sometimes feels like a mouse with a
teacup trying to bail the Titanic.” But Coddington added that she was impressed by the turnout.
“What was exciting to me was the audience,” she said in a Journal News interview. “It came
from a wide cross section of the community. They weren’t just scientists and activists, but
teachers and people on local planning boards. People seemed very motivated to work together
and have this information make a difference at all levels in the community.”