Thursday, January 30, 2014

QUEENS’ ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS COULD LAND FINANCIAL BOOST FROM STATE GRANTS



Volunteers with the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers work to improve plant life on Rulers Bar Island. Photo courtesy Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers

Environmental groups like Dan Mundy’s Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers could land themselves up to $50,000 in state grant money – thanks to a new grant state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) announced this week.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation said it would begin accepting applications for technical assistance grants from groups who “increase public awareness and understanding of remedial activities taking place in their community.”
The criteria listed sounded a lot like what Mundy and his ecowatchers do on a daily basis for Jamaica Bay.
“These kinds of grants allow small groups like us to do a large part of the work around the bay,” he said. “They help keep us running.”
Mundy said his group routinely works to research issues affecting the bay and organizes events there to empower Queens’ youngsters to want to keep the area clean. The group hosts various environmental projects, which require things like cleaning supplies and other basic necessities, which Mundy said all add up.
He also plugged other groups that do work around the bay, including the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, the Bay Improvement Group and others.
“It’s nice that it comes back to people who are doing good things in the bay,” Mundy said. “There are a lot of groups who do this kind of work and they are all doing their own part, focusing on getting young kids out there to learn and help with cleanups.”
A bitter cold January morning leaves Jamaica Bay partially frozen. Photo courtesy Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers
A bitter cold January morning leaves Jamaica Bay partially frozen. Photo courtesy Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers is only one of several environmentally focused groups based out of the Rockaways and southern Queens, which Goldfeder said made for great opportunities with the grant’s help. The assemblyman has been actively promoting ways for environmental groups in his district to step up and recover since Superstorm Sandy left most of his area crippled.
“This grant is the perfect opportunity to help community-based organizations receive technical assistance to better understand and educate residents on projects that will significantly impact our families,” he said. “I commend DEC for taking the initiative to increase public involvement and share information on remedial projects taking place in the community.”
The technical assistance grants were created to give groups the tools needed to
utilize environmental data to their benefit as well as have a say in remedial activities. The state DEC first issued the grants in March 2006, but Goldfeder said they
were more relevant to the present because of the increasing effects of storms in his district.
“At the local level, it really does bring the greatest bang for your buck,” Mundy said.
By Phil Corso

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