Respecting the River and its Marine Life — Respect in General

Remember the oyster relocation program, and sturgeon tagging and monitoring last summer before the three-month dredging period? And the environmental review and precautions?

Last autumn: a blue sky and calm river/© Janie Rosman 2013

Last autumn: a blue sky and calm river/© Janie Rosman 2013

As with sturgeon monitoring and tagging, oyster harvesting was part of the state Department of Environmental Conservation Final Permit requirements, which contains $11.5 million for mitigation and restoration to protect the Hudson River and minimize the project’s environmental impacts.

Respect for the river and its marine life.

Riverkeeper, Inc. wants the same for a location 120 miles north at the Port of Coeymans, where construction for a staging area for the bridge project had begun. Although the state Department of Environmental Conservation chose not to conduct a review of the site, the watchdog group challenged that decision.

“The state appears to be pushing this through without an environmental review. They’ll be assembling pieces critical to building the bridge, and bringing them down river,” Hudson River Program Director Phillip Musegaas said.

Last December, the DEC’s “Negative Declaration” for the project determined it would cause no significant impacts, and needed no further environmental review.

“In this area, the Coeymans project is located across the river from sturgeons’ spawning habitat, and the area is state-protected,” Musegaas said. “Besides, the river is only 1,000 feet wide at that point. They’re proposing to build four piers more than 200 feet into the river so they can load barges in a very sensitive, ecological area.”

He said the National Marine Fisheries Service is also looking into the project’s effects on endangered sturgeon.

Riverkeeper filed comments to the DEC, and when it observed construction prior to permit approvals, the DEC ordered it to stop. “We’re happy the DEC shut it down because it shows a major lack of concern in a sensitive part of the river,” he said.

What it wants is a careful review. “We rightfully expect they (TZC) apply the same protections to the upriver site as they did at the Tappan Zee Bridge site,” Musegaas said.

The watchdog group is asking the public to urge the DEC to rescind its Negative Declaration and issue a comprehensive environmental impact and permit review process that meaningfully incorporates public participation by the recently extended comment deadline period of September 18, 2014.

Merriam-Webster defines respect as “a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way.” Respect for the river, the environment, nature — and each other.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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