On Monday, August 12th, Secretary Jewell, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Director Jarvis announced the establishment of a new Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay.
The institute will consist of a consortium of top-tier research institutions led by the City University of New York. It grew out of the unprecedented partnership agreement between the National Park Service and the City of New York, signed last July.
"In the City of New York, we have a powerful and dedicated partner to promote visitation, education programs, scientific research and opportunities for recreation in our urban parks," said Jewell.
While the plan for the institute predates Hurricane Sandy, that storm highlighted the need for both resiliency and strong science to help develop the best practices to implement strategies to attain it.
"Cutting-edge science is essential for understanding and managing the precious resources of the Jamaica Bay ecosystem and surrounding communities," said Director Jarvis. "The Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay – with its stellar consortium of the region's top-flight scientific institutions – will advance the role of science in managing resources and building regional resilience to future storms. And it is a model of how local scientific expertise can be marshaled to solve big problems, and to provide managers – like those of us in the National Park Service – with usable knowledge."
As part of the event’s proceedings, the formation of a conservancy that will support the institute and the larger NPS-NYC partnership was also announced. Its first board includes representatives of many of the most respected non-profit organizations and institutions in New York City.
Jewell and Donovan announced that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will administer the $100 million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program, which will make awards to projects that bolster natural resiliency, either through “boots on the ground” projects or research.
All of the speakers noted the importance of creating next generation stewards for Jamaica Bay and praised the work of the Student Conservation Association, which is managing the National Parks of New York Harbor Youth Conservation Corps and the city’s Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Restoration Corps.
These students have been working throughout the summer to remove debris, shift sand and plant native grasses to help Gateway National Recreation Area and the surrounding communities to recover as quickly as possible from Hurricane Sandy so that everyone can once again take full advantage of America’s great outdoors in one of its most accessible urban national parks.