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EPA Administrator Announces Grants to Educate Kids, Increase Public Awareness and Improve New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary

Release Date: 04/22/2003
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(#03039) New York, N.Y. – At an Earth Day ceremony held aboard an historic 125-foot schooner at the 79th Street Boat Basin, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman was joined by New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe to announce 11 grants totaling $50,000 to New York and New Jersey groups. The grants are for programs that will educate area students and residents about the New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary, foster stewardship of its resources and improve its environmental quality.

“Our nation’s estuaries are unique places where fresh and salt water mix – creating vibrant habitats for marine life and scenic spots for boating and birdwatching,” said Administrator Whitman. “Since joining EPA’s National Estuary Program fifteen years ago, a dedicated group of stakeholders, representing government, community and environmental groups, have worked to develop a plan to restore, manage, and protect the waters of the Harbor Estuary.”

The grants were awarded through the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program (HEP), a bi-state consortium of federal, state and local governments, environmental and community groups, businesses and individuals brought together by a common goal of cleaning up and protecting NY/NJ Harbor. Eleven projects, focusing on water quality improvement, student education, teacher training, and stewardship, won grants ranging from $950 to $5,000. The HEP is part of EPA’s national program to study, clean up, restore and protect the nation’s most important estuaries. New York Sea Grant works with HEP to oversee the education and outreach portion of the program, including this grant program.

“Having grown up in Jersey City on the shores of the New York/New Jersey Harbor, it is a personal goal to see environmental improvements continue," said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. "Projects like these ensure that we keep awareness of the harbor's importance high and help continue to fuel efforts to restore it.”

“Today, by providing grants and resources to community groups, the EPA is helping us in our goal to help New Yorkers to become better stewards of natural areas,” said Parks Commissioner Benepe.

EPA designated the HEP as an "Estuary of National Significance" in 1988 in response to a request by the two state governors. Since that time, many partners have joined with HEP to identify significant environmental problems in the harbor, develop a Comprehensive Conservation and Management plan to address them, and to work towards correcting them. The grants announced today assist with the implementation of the plan by engaging groups with hands on experience in their local area.

Grant recipients in New York:

American Littoral Society Exit EPA disclaimer, in conjunction with Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, received support for their “Jamaica Bay Clean Sweep.” Working together, the groups will remove abandoned boats and other large items from the shores of Jamaica Bay.

Beczak Environmental Education Center Exit EPA disclaimerreceived a grant for its elementary and middle school education program on watersheds. The center uses a physical model of a watershed to illustrate the impacts of pollution on these elaborate water systems to kids from low-income school districts in Yonkers.

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Exit EPA disclaimerreceived grant support for its ship-board education program that targets fourth and tenth graders. Through this program, the students will learn basic sailing techniques, how to trawl for fish and draw conclusions from the catch, and how to test and analyze water samples.

New York City Audubon Society Exit EPA disclaimerreceived a grant for its Harbor Herons Citizen’s Monitoring Program. They will train volunteers to conduct heron nest surveys on the islands off the north shore of Staten Island.

South Street Seaport Museum Exit EPA disclaimerreceived a grant to support its Urban Waters Environmental Education Program, which will introduce young people to the environment and impacts of pollution on the harbor, and teach them how to analyze water samples and trawl for marine life. The museum will also develop a Web site for teachers featuring lesson plans on estuarine science and stewardship.

Grant Recipients in New Jersey:

Bayshore Sub-watershed Regional Council will use its grant money to mark storm drains and monitor waters along Flat Creek in the Bayshore Sub-watershed. The council will also develop and distribute a brochure that will be given to local businesses and residents to better educate them about the watershed.

Future City, Inc. of Elizabeth, New Jersey will use its grant money to educate the public about the Elizabeth River and the Arthur Kill. They will develop a multi-lingual information center.

The Greater Newark Conservancy Exit EPA disclaimerwill use its HEP money to train teachers to use both national and New Jersey based curricula focused on the importance of wetlands and watersheds. The group will hold a two day workshop for teachers, which will include a field trip to identify wildlife, sample water and conduct experiments.

Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inc Exit EPA disclaimerwill use its grant money to teach high school students from six area schools to conduct water quality sampling in the lower Hackensack. The students will be trained to test the water for ten parameters and interpret these results.

The Monmouth County Planning Board Exit EPA disclaimerreceived grant moneys to post signs on county bridges identifying the stream and the watershed and drainage basin in which it is located. The county will also distribute a brochure to educate the public about non-point source pollution, preventing erosion and the importance of stream buffers.

Small grants are awarded every year through the HEP. Proposals for the next round will likely be taken next fall. For more information about the New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program, visit their Web site at Exit EPA disclaimer.