Sunday, June 25, 2006

Federal Funding for Hempstead Harbor Projects Threatened

Your help is urgently needed to ensure that federal funds are available for projects that protect wetlands in Hempstead Harbor and neighboring waterways. Hempstead Harbor (along with Manhasset Bay, Oyster Bay Harbor and other key Long Island Sound waters) recently were designated as Long Island Sound Stewardship sites.

The designation makes municipalities in these areas eligible for funding under The Long Island Sound Stewardship Act of 2006 (H.R. 5160), proposed federal legislation now under review. The text of the bill is available from the search page of the U.S. House of Representatives: Office of the Clerk.

However, a recent change in the act (apparently prompted by a single voice in Connecticut) would eliminate all wetlands and underwater lands from the definition of a stewardship site, leaving only uplands above the mean high water mark. If this language is accepted, it will undermine the original intent of the act and eliminate funding for the most critical projects in Hempstead Harbor and surrounding waters.

The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association believes that this change makes no sense and is highly damaging to Hempstead Harbor and to Long Island Sound.

Please consider sending the draft letter below, or some version of it, to the local offices of key congresspersons in New York and Connecticut. If you wish, you can go to U.S. House of Representatives: Write Your Representative to send your messages via email (see note below).

The suggested text was composed by Eric Swenson, director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee (HHPC), an intermunicipal organization made up of the municipalities surrounding the harbor (the towns of Oyster Bay and North Hempstead, the villages of Sea Cliff, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn, Flower Hill and Sands Point, the City of Glen Cove, and Nassau County). The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association participates in HHPC as a nonvoting member and supports the work of the committee in whatever way it can.

In the letter, Eric points out that "trying to protect Long Island's coastal ecology without protecting its wetlands and underwater lands is like trying to protect a tree while allowing its limbs to be cut off." Great progress is being made in restoring the wetlands and water quality in Hempstead Harbor and in Long Island Sound in general. This is an opportunity to help federal officials understand how to keep that progress on track.


The Honorable Steve Israel
U.S. House of Representatives
150 Motor Parkway, Suite 108
Hauppauge, NY 11788-5152

Re: Long Island Sound Stewardship Act (H.R. 5160)

Dear Congressman Israel:

I am writing to you regarding the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act (H.R. 5160) which would establish the Long Island Sound Stewardship Initiative. My colleagues and I are concerned about a recent change to the “Boundaries” section of the legislation that would exclude all underwater lands and wetlands from the protections afforded by this otherwise much-needed bill.

We believe that the exclusion of wetlands and underwater lands largely defeats the very purpose of the bill, which was introduced “... to identify, protect, and enhance sites within the Long Island Sound ecosystem with significant ecological, educational, open space, public access, or recreational value through a bi-state network if sites best exemplifying these values.”

Wetlands provide irreplaceable habitat for various species and also serve as natural filters for stormwater which in turn protects the health of our harbors. In fact, the bill itself states that “approximately 1/3 of the tidal marshes of the Long Island Sound have been filled, and much of the remaining marshes have been ditched, diked or impounded, reducing the ecological value of the marshes”.

Not only should these areas be protected but they should be the main focus of this legislation. Trying to protect Long Island Sound coastal sites but eliminating protection of wetlands and underwater lands is like trying to protect a tree but allowing its limbs to be cut off. The wetlands and underwater lands are so integral and key to the protection of the coastal ecosystem that eliminating them from the scope of the bill effectively “guts” the bill.

As a community which has done much to protect and enhance Hempstead Harbor, we urge you to revise the Stewardship Act to include New York’s wetlands and underwater lands.

Thank you for your consideration.


Gary Ackerman
218-14 Northern Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361-3503

Timothy Bishop
3680 Route 112, Suite C, Coram, NY 11727

Joseph Crowley
74-09 37th Ave, Suite 306-B, Jackson Heights, NY 11372-6303

Rosa L. DeLauro
59 Elm Street, Suite 205, New Haven, CT 06510-2036

Peter King
1003 Park Blvd., Massapequa Park, NY 11762-2758

Nita M. Lowey
222 Mamaroneck Ave., Suite 310, White Plains, NY 10605-1316

Carolyn McCarthy
200 Garden City Plaza, Suite 320, Garden City, NY 11530-3338

Christopher Shays
10 Middle Street, 11th Floor, Bridgeport, CT 06604-4223

Robert Simmons
2 Courthouse Square, 5th Floor, Norwich, CT 06360-5763


Note: U.S. House of Representatives: Write Your Representative seems to be set up to permit people to send messages only to the congressperson representing their particular district. It appears to be possible for those with legitimate reasons for contacting congresspersons outside their district to get around this by using the recipient's zip code instead of the sender zip code when prompted for the sender zip code. However, you should still type in all of your correct contact information in the various address felds that follow. In your message, you might want to include an introductory sentence to the effect that, although you do not live in the representative's district, you are writing on a matter of great concern to everyone who lives near Long Island Sound and that requires intermunicipal cooperation, so you hope that the congressperson will take the message seriously. You also may have to type in a number or letter in a required field to prove that you are not spamming. (To reach Timothy Bishop you can use any four digit zip code extension for the portion of Coram that Mr. Bishop represents; how to do this will become evident). It could be easier, but it's not as bad as it sounds.

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