Western/Central New York Local
Campaigns The Great Lakes
Protecting, restoring and improving the Great Lakes, the
largest freshwater ecosystem on the globe, is a core program area for CCFE. CCFE actively works throughout New York with
the Healing Our Waters (HOW) Coalition. CCFE’s Great Lakes campaign benefits the
health and welfare of all NYS’s residents that rely on the Great Lakes for
drinking water, recreation, and a healthy economy. This includes sixteen percent of NY’s
population that live in the fifteen counties that surround that Great
Lakes. Forty percent of New York State’s
land mass is wholly contained in the Great Lakes basin.
Working at the local, state, and federal level, CCFE
champions a number of initiatives to protect water quality and quantity. Highlights of CCFE’s work in 2011 to protect
and restore the Great Lakes include:
Education Day in Albany. CCFE
participated in Great Lakes Education Day in Albany, on March 9, 2011. CCFE and representatives from other
environmental organizations and academia set up educational tables in the New
York State Legislative Office Building, to educate legislators and staff about
problems and solutions regarding the health of our Great Lakes. CCFE and partners also met with state
agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department
of State, to coordinate the NGO community and state on efforts to protect and
restore the lakes.
Fly-in to Washington
DC to Educate Policymakers about the Successes of Great Lakes Restoration. CCFE traveled to Washington, DC on
September 19 - 20, 2011, to meet with members of the New York State
Congressional Delegation. CCFE educated
the Congressional members and their staff on success stories of Great Lakes
protection and restoration in their districts.
Providing on the ground success stories enables Congress to understand
the tangible benefits of federal programs to protect our precious Great Lakes.
Annual Healing Our Waters Coalition Conference in Detroit, MI. CCFE participated in the national annual
Healing Our Waters (HOW) Coalition Conference held in Detroit, MI October
12-14, 2011.This year’s conference was part of Great Lakes week in Detroit,
which brought the HOW conference together with conferences from Great Lakes
Commission, International Joint Commission, and US Area of Concern
Program. This diverse and robust
gathering of NGOs, bi-national government officials, business leaders, and
other stakeholders helped to unite and solidify the many stakeholders working
to protect and restore the Great Lakes.
Education. In 2011, CCFE continued the New York Wind Education
Collaborative (NYWEC) project with Pace Energy and Climate Center and the
Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACENY).
With the goal of increasing the public’s access to accurate information
about wind power, the collaboration crafted a series of educational fact
sheets, including "Offshore Wind", "Wind & Wildlife", "Wind and
Agriculture", "The Environmental and Public Health Impacts of our Energy
Choices," "Wind Integration", and "Frequently Asked Questions". Additionally, NYWEC crafted an interactive
power point presentation. CCFE and our
partners at NYWEC presented the power point and distributed fact sheets at more
than twenty educational forums that were held in communities across New York
State. NYWEC also conducted several
interactive online webinars, in order to reach a broader audience that could
not attend the in person presentations.
All materials, including video presentations, are available to the public
on the project website: www.pace.edu/school-of-law/nywec.
CCFE continues accept invitations to speak to the environmental benefits
of wind power.
Onondaga Lake Superfund Remediation.
CCFE is an active stakeholder in the New York State led, Onondaga Lake
Bottom Federal Superfund site, in which Honeywell is the Principle Responsible
Party. Ongoing and meaningful citizen participation in this project is a CCFE
Save the Rain. Clean the Lake.Strong partnerships between
citizens and government have resulted in significant improvements in the health
of Onondaga Lake. Onondaga Lake has
historically been impaired by combined sewage overflows, inadequate sewage
treatment, and urban runoff. Onondaga
County has been under a Consent Decree to improve water quality (the Amended
Consent Judgment or"ACJ"). Due to strong
public support, cost concerns, and a more sustainable approach to managing
storm water, Onondaga County and parties amended the ACJ to require green
infrastructure projects strategies to reduce polluted runoff and combined sewer
overflow to be in compliance with the Clean Water Act. CCFE’s Sarah Eckel served on the Green
Infrastructure Outreach Committee that helped advance green infrastructure
strategies to achieve water pollution reduction requirements to reduce combined
Sewer Overflows (CSOs) and influenced the development and launch of the
County’s robust and innovative 'Save the Rain’ campaign. In 2011, CCFE has supported the diverse
partnership charged with implementing this ground breaking "Save the Rain"
Partnership. The Federal, State and local government
have been active partners, as well as community leaders. CCFE serves on the outreach committee for the
Onondaga Lake Partnership (OLP). The OLP
is established under the Water Resources Development Act and is served by the
Army Corps of Engineers, US. Environmental Protection Agency, Onondaga County,
City of Syracuse, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation,
the Office New York State Attorney General, as well as local historical,
conservation, and environmental groups.
The OLP is moving forward with designing and installing interpretative
watershed signs, supporting watershed education in the classroom, and published
the Onondaga Lake Progress and Action Strategy as well as two informative
status updates widely distributed as an insert in the Post Standard.
Davids Island. Davids Island is a 78-acre former Army
base located less than 15 miles from Manhattan in Long Island Sound. CCFE has been working for more than a decade
perpetual preservation of the Island.
CCFE, along with local environmentalists have been urging the City of
New Rochelle to create a park to protect the already overstressed western Long
Island Sound ecosystem and provide much needed open space and waterfront public
access to residents across Westchester County.
There have been several development proposals in the past, which would
have destroyed the natural state of the Island and increased harmful pollutants
to the Sound.
CCFE has educated residents of Westchester
County on the importance of Davids Island and the importance of preserving it
as parkland. In July, 2010, the Mayor of New Rochelle
convened a task force to devise a conceptual plan for Davids Island. CCFE has actively attended these task force
meetings and will continue to attend these meetings as the process moves
forward. The City of New Rochelle is
currently accepting community, regional, and stakeholder input to determine the
vision of the Island’s future. In 2011,
The Davids Island Task Force meetings took place: January 12, February 16, March 16, April 13, and September 19.
DESALINATION. Throughout 2111, CCFE has worked with the
Rockland Coalition for Sustainable Water to promote water conservation, water
efficiency, and green infrastructure throughout Rockland
County to avoid the construction of an
energy intensive water filtration plant from being built along the Hudson River. The
Hudson River is an important estuary that contributes to New
York’s economy, heritage, recreation, environment, and aesthetic
beauty. A desalination plant will use
enormous amounts of energy, contribute to climate change, and have a
significant negative impact on the quality of this important river.
The Rockland Coalition meets on a bi-monthly
basis with over 20 participating members. CCFE is developing a white paper on
desalination and promoting sustainable water solutions for Rockland
County. This paper is expected to be
printed and formally released in Spring of 2012
BYOB Report. CCFE released "B.Y.O.B (Bring Your Own Bag):
Reusable Bag Policies at Westchester Grocery
Stores" report in June. CCFE
staff analyzed and evaluated reusable bag policies of fourteen Long Island grocery store chains. Grades range from A+ to
F. Topping the list were Whole Foods and
Stop & Shop, both with an A+, followed
Shop Rite, Deciccio’s, Trader Joe’s and Mrs. Green’s, who earned in the
B to B+ range. Stores were graded on
sale and promotion of reusable bags, signage within the store and in parking
lots to remind consumers to bring bags, monetary incentives, educating
employees, and on their willingness to engage in consumer education on reusable
In 2011 CCFE continued its work to educate school children and
the community on the importance of protecting Long Island’s drinking water.
This program uses a three-dimensional interactive aquifer model, created
specifically to illustrate Long Island’s unique hydrological system. CCFE uses this 3-d model in presentations and
talks throughout classrooms on Long Island. The model illustrates the unique
properties and vulnerabilities of Long Island’s groundwater system and how
pollution moves through the ground. As part of this program, CCFE staff also
educates teachers to increase their understanding of Long Island’s unique
groundwater system. Teachers have incorporated lessons from the aquifer model
into their curricula for English, Science, and Civic classes. In 2011, CCFE
gave presentations in March, April, June, and November reaching over 4,000 of
students and community members.
Long Island Estuaries
New York State is fortunate to have over 1,500 square miles
of bays and estuaries and 120 miles of ocean shoreline. The Long Island Sound and the South Shore
Estuary Reserve contribute to the regional economy, New York &
Connecticut’s current culture, and their historical maritime culture. CCFE works to preserve, protect, and restore
our ecologically important bays and estuaries. CCFE is an active member of the
Long Island Sound Study Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) and chairs the South
Shore Estuary Reserve (SSER) Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). The LISS CAC meets 4 times a year and the
SSER CAC meets bi-monthly.
In 2011 CCFE and the
SSER CAC organized a free boat tour for stakeholders and policy makers. The Lauren Kristy, generously donated for
the event, took approximately 60 participants around the bay islands and
significant sites within the Great South Bay.
Suffolk County Clam Management Workgroup
In order to protect and
manage the possible recovery of the hard clam population in the Great South
Bay, the Suffolk County Department of Environment and Energy convened the Great
South Bay Hard Clam Restoration Working Group in late 2008. The working group developed interim
management measures, which each town, within the Great South Bay adopted in
2010. In 2011 the working group worked
on long term management recommendation.
CCFE is an active member of
the working group. The working group met
monthly throughout 2011. The working
group also hosted 3 public stakeholder meeting (May 25, September 20, and
November 9) that CCFE participated in.
Campaign. In 2011 CCFE continued
to work with the "The Western Bays Collaboration Working Group". The working group is made up of elected
leaders and stakeholder organizations with the goal of restoring our Western
Bays. Partners include: Assemblyman
Weisenberg, Assemblyman Sweeney, NC Legislator Denise Ford, NC Legislator Dave
Denenberg, NC Legislator Howard Kopel, Nassau County Executive Mangano’s
Office, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Operation SPLASH, Point Lookout
Civic Association, and Green Bay Parkers. The goal of the Working Group is to
restore the Western Bays.
2011, the working group held two public forums to update community members and
stakeholders on the state of the bays and new research underway. The forums were held on February 10 and
December 9, with approximately 75 members in attendance at each forum.
Sound (LIS) Protection. CCFE actively educates members of the public and
elected leaders on the progress being made in restoring the health of Long
Island Sound, as well as new emerging threats to the Sound. CCFE works to ensure that there is adequate
money for protection and restoration of the Sound.
This summer CCFE co-sponsored and participated in
the LISS CAC Sound Vision events. These events were held in NY & CT around
the Sound. The purpose of the events was
to educate members of the public and elected leaders on the newly developed
action agenda that the CAC put together.
Water Quality Protection. The Northport
Harbor Water Quality Protection Committee (NWQPC) was established spring of
2010 and has since successfully identified a comprehensive plan to restore
water quality in the Northport/ Centerport Harbor complex. The plan focuses on
reducing nitrogen loading in the bays using stormwater runoff mitigation and
upgrades to sewage infrastructure. The plan also includes a subcommittee on
education and outreach that aims to increase resident awareness about limiting
fertilizer and pesticide application, as well as controlling runoff on private
properties with natural vegetation. Many of the committees’ established efforts
are already underway, and others are in the planning stages. The NWQPC has
provided a forum to inform and engage multiple levels of government, agencies
and stakeholder organizations in the restoration and preservation process.
Local, county, state, and federal elected officials, agencies, and non-profit
groups are working together to identify needs and solutions. In 2011, the committee successfully secured
funding for several matrix items. The Village of Northport was provided a low
interest loan from the EFC to upgrade their sewage treatment plant to come into
compliance with 2014 nitrogen standards. The committee also helped to secure
research funding; Stony Brook University was provided a grant from NOAA to
study red tide issues in Northport Harbor. The Committee is confident that a
combination of our planned remediation efforts; both small and large, will
significantly aid in restoring the harbors.
In 2011 the committee met in May and July.
Invasive Species The
Carmans River, located in Brookhaven, NY, is one of four major rivers on Long
Island. It used to be a 10-mile river, beginning north of the Long Island
Expressway and flowing all the way to the Great South Bay. Centuries ago, dams
were installed that created a series of lakes. The lakes have since provided
energy, recreation, and a source of income for citizens in the area.
Recently, the Carmans River has been seriously
threatened by two invasive plant species, Variable Leaf Milfoil and Cabomba.
These are highly invasive species that have been increasing in population
steadily since their introduction to the lakes a few years ago. These invasive
species have become so concentrated that they have choked out native plants and
marine life, inhibiting life in the river.
In December of 2007, a Carmans River Task Force was created
to address the serious invasive plant problem. CCFE teamed up with Yaphank
residents, elected officials, and other organizations to address the problems
in these lakes. CCFE’s Executive Director, Adrienne Esposito, oversees the
seventeen diverse members that make up the working group. The main goal of the Task Force is to review and evaluate all
options of management and eradication of the invasive species of the upper and
In 2011, CCFE continued to be active as Chair of the Carmans
River Working Group. The group convened multiple times to continue developing a
method that will remediate the invasive species throughout the Upper and Lower
County’s Consultant: NPV and crafted a comprehensive Scoping Document to ensure
stakeholder input into this important study.
The working group supported the consultant’s recommendations and began
moving forward with the suggested remediation methods. These actions include a
combination of dredging of soft sediment, limited, targeted use of aquatic
pesticides, and a follow up management plan to keep the lake free of invasive
Kill Fish. In June 2009 CCFE
launched a new campaign entitled "Power Plants Kill Fish" to educate members of
the public and elected officials on how Long Island’s 5 steam electric power
plants effect marine life. CCFE worked with
Network for New Energy Choices (NNEC) to release the report "Power Plants Kill
Fish: National Grids LI Power Plants and their Adverse Effects on Coastal Fish"
a state-wide report entitled "Reeling in New York’s Aging Power Plants". In 2011 CCFE continued to educate members of
the public on how power plants kill billions of fish, fish eggs, and fish
larvae a year due to their destructive open-water cooling systems.
Long Island Sewage Report Card. CCFE released the first
Long Island Sewage Report Card. In a
comprehensive snapshot CCFE researched and analyzed 10 sewage treatment plants
across Long Island. The Huntington
Sewage Treatment Plant had the top score of an A+. The Bay Park, Long Beach, and Stony Brook
plant Plants all tied with the worst score--D.
Plants were graded on violations, public notification procedures, energy
efficiency measures, public education, and climate change adaptation. CCFE reviewed five years of discharge data
for each STP and also graded on energy efficiency, stormwater runoff
mitigation, climate change adaptation and other key factors.
Piping Plovers. CCFE has a long history of protecting piping
plovers, endangered shorebirds that utilize Long Island shores as their
breeding and nesting grounds. The
Piping Plover Protection Project has
become an annual tradition for CCFE, its members, and volunteers. In 2011, CCFE generated 30 volunteers on Memorial Day, to protect plover nests on days of the year
when nests are particularly vulnerable to human traffic and recreational pursuits. In March of 2011 CCFE generated volunteers to
help the NYS Parks Department put up protective fencing enclosures around prime
plover nesting habitat. In 2011 CCFE also released a new educational 4 pager on
the piping plover. The brochure is distributed
at tabling events and is available on our website.
LI Pesticide Use
Management Plan. The Long Island
Pesticide Use Management Plan (LIPUMP) is being developed to ensure the
protection of Long Island’s groundwater, our only source of drinking water. The shallow depth of soil underlying Long
Island’s aquifer system, sandy and permeable nature of the soils, relatively
abundant precipitation, and annual regional use of millions of pounds of
pesticides underscores the critical need to properly manage the use of
pesticides in Nassau and Suffolk County.
There are already 129 pesticide active ingredients and degradates that
are currently found in LI’s groundwater.
CCFE serves on the Technical Advisory Committee for the development of
the plan. CCFE provided comments on the
initial draft of the LIPUMP in January of 2011.
On November 11, 2011 the Technical Advisory Committee reconvened to
review an updated draft. CCFE then
provided comments on the updated draft in December 2011. The draft document is expected to be released
to the public in 2012.
Brookhaven Landfill. In February, 2011 CCE joined community
members in Southern Brookhaven to address issues surrounding the Brookhaven
Town Landfill. The Town had recently begun accepting sewage sludge from New
York City at the Town Landfill causing serious odor and quality of life
problems for the community. CCE worked with stakeholders to establish the Stop
the Sludge Coalition (STS), made up of over 30 member organizations including
school boards, library, fire departments, civic organizations, local ambulance
company, business associations and residents. In just months, the group
successfully pressured the DEC to revoke the permit for the town to accept
sludge in the town landfill. After this
victory, The STS became the Brookhaven Community Coalition (BCC) - to address
other issues facing the community, including several compost facilities
operating out of compliance causing odor, dust, environmental and public health
threats. CCE serves on the executive board for the BCC and has been successful
in organizing and empowering community stakeholders. The group successfully
worked to have the New York State DEC revoke a variance given to the Long
Island Compost/ Great Gardens facility.
This is a 62 acre operations that was provided a variance from
establishing an enclosed operation. The company has appealed the DEC ruling.
River. The Forge River has experienced a steady degradation from excessive
nitrogen, mostly related to a dense population on spetic systems. The river has been officially declared an
"impaired water body" by the NYS DEC.
The Forge River regularly
experiences episodes of hypoxia (inadequate oxygen), resulting in fish kills,
noxious odors, and the loss of marine-related businesses, recreation and
tourism. Currently, the Forge River is undergoing a watershed management plan,
which is a critical step in consolidating existing research and combining
historic and scientific knowledge into a restoration plan for the river. CCFE has been appointed a member of the Forge
River Taskforce. The taskforce is made
up of elected officials, state and local agencies, and stakeholder
organizations. The taskforce provides
guidance in development of the watershed management plan, as well as other
restoration efforts surrounding this body of water. CCFE attended
meetings in October, November, and December.
Island. In Suffolk County CCFE
sits on the Suffolk County Pesticide Phase-out Committee. In 2000, Suffolk County passed legislation
that banned pesticides from all county-owned property. The committee was established to review
progress on implementation and to approve/disapprove any proposed
exemptions. In 2011, the committee met:
Feb 15 th, Mar 29 th, April 14 th, June 14 th,
July 20 th, Sept 14 th, Dec 13 th.
State-Wide Campaigns Hydro-Fracking.
CCFE’s Policy Director, Sarah Eckel, co-chairs a national working group on oil,
gas, and mining which work on issues of hydro-fracking in the Northeast by
using lessons learned in the other states. In 2011,
CCFE published a landmark mapping report on hydro-fracking leases in New York
State. CCFE’s report was intended to help a conversation on the need for large
cumulative impact assessment.
Throughout 2011, CCFE staff was invited to give presentations
around the state on hydro-fracking and to explain the public comment process
that was begun by the DEC. From Buffalo
to Long Island, CCFE staff have given numerous presentations on the topic and
remain committed to helping the public grapple with this intensive and
CCFE staff also worked on analyzing the impacts to sewage
treatment facilities that may take fracking wastewater. That information will be available in early
Protection. In 2011, CCFE continued collaborations
with a number of environmental organizations in the NY Ocean and Great Lake
Coalition to advance ocean and Great Lakes protection and restoration.
Increasing Knowledge, Decreasing Risk. CCFE has long worked
to ensure the public is educated about the dangers of using pesticides, particularly
lawn pesticides. In 2011, CCFE continued
statewide efforts to educate the public on the unacceptable risks posed by
Plastic Bags. CCFE works to
reduce the amount of plastic bags entering the environment and being used by
consumers. Plastic bags mar the
landscape, kill and injure aquatic wildlife and increase exposure to toxic
chemicals in the environment. As many
governments across the country and around the world move to address plastic
bags, CCFE has put together a plastic bag resource center to give interested
citizens a clearinghouse for learning about various actions being taken to
reduce plastic bag use. Additionally, CCFE
has developed an educational brochure for distribution at public events about
the impacts of plastic bags and alternatives.
In 2011, CCFE launched a massive
public education project in Westchester County. The campaign targeted both retailers and
members of the public. Retailers were
educated on reusable bag benefits, and helpful store policies such as providing
reusable bags, educating employees to ask consumers if they want/need a bag,
charging for or eliminating plastic bags in their stores, and posting signs
encouraging reusable bag use.
Twenty-seven retailers agreed to implement policies that would help
consumers "kick the plastic bag habit".
CCFE disseminated 500 BYOB educational brochures and had 300 individuals
sign pledges that stated they would "kick the plastic bag habit".