Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | October 16, 2014

Stop senseless habitat destruction on Sandy Hook

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Originally posted by Monmouth County Audubon.

Stop senseless habitat destruction on Sandy Hook

Members and Friends,

The National Park Service has announced a plan to relocate maintenance facilities at Sandy Hook to areas that provide critical bird habitat. The proposed action would result in destruction of this critical habitat in order to construct new facilities and expand existing development.

Your urgent action is needed to OPPOSE this plan. Please submit comments against the proposal by October 22, 2014 to the website or address below.

NPS is considering two sites for development for the new facility. One area, the “well and water treatment plant site,” runs from the north end of the Scout Camp north to the intersection of the bike path and the unused portion of Randolph Road. This area contains the largest and oldest contiguous piece of coastal maritime/holly forest in Monmouth County. It is well known by birders as a prime spot for birding, especially in migration. Bird banding study in this very area has documented this forest as a critical stopover site for migrating birds.

A second site under consideration, the “tent city” site, runs along Gunnison Road adjacent to the MAST campus and into the wooded area behind the NOAA Marine Sciences Lab. The area is currently undeveloped grassy scrub and forest. The lots along Gunnison Road are known by birders to attract sparrows in the fall migration. The site is also the location of an active Osprey nesting platform. Maps and the NPS’ statement regarding the proposal can be found at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/gate and click on the link titled Relocate Maintenance Facilities to More Sustainable Locations – Sandy Hook.

Monmouth County Audubon opposes the proposed relocation to either of these sites. Please submit comments OPPOSING the plan.

Key points against this plan include:

* NPS should not undertake any new construction that involves removal of old trees, native vegetation and wildlife habitat when there are existing developed areas and abandoned buildings on Sandy Hook that can be refurbished, re-purposed and re-adapted for use as the maintenance facility.

* Both areas under consideration are important bird habitat. The “well and water treatment plant” site encompasses dense, old maritime forest which provides critical habitat for both nesting and migrating songbirds. An ongoing bird banding study being done by the College of Staten Island documents use of this forest by thousands of migratory birds, including New Jersey state-threatened and endangered species. The “tent city” site also provides habitat for nesting and migrating birds, including Henslow’s Sparrow, a federally endangered Species.

* The proposed sites do not provide a “sustainable” location for the maintenance facilities because both areas flooded during Superstorm Sandy and will likely flood again in future storms.

* The proposal would cost approximately $24 million dollars, a poor use of taxpayers’ money which should instead be spent on refurbishing existing buildings.

* Relocating maintenance facilities to either proposed site would negatively impact visitor use and experience at Sandy Hook by destroying prime birding locations or making them unavailable to the public.

* The NPS has the duty and responsibility to preserve and protect the natural resources of Sandy Hook for future generations. The proposed plan violates this mission.

We urge you to submit your comments by OCTOBER 22, 2014, online at:
http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=237&projectID=49465&documentID=61398
You may also submit your comments by mail to:

Office of the Superintendent
Gateway National Recreation Area
ATTN: Sandy Hook Unit Maintenance Facilities Relocation EA Comments
210 New York Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305

Thank you for your support!
Monmouth County Audubon Society

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