Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis today to announce the establishment of a new Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay with a consortium led by the City University of New York (CUNY). The Institute will serve as a top tier research center to promote understanding of resilience in the urban ecosystem, and is the product of a partnership between the National Park Service and the City of New York to cooperatively manage 10,000 acres of federal and city-owned parks at Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn and Queens.
"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. "And now, in CUNY and their academic partners, we have a consortium of world class institutions to advance our understanding of climate change and its impact on our natural systems. Working together, we will develop and coordinate approaches to coastal resiliency for Jamaica Bay that can serve as a model for communities around the world threatened by climate change."
The Institute, which will start on the campus of Brooklyn College, will host visiting scientists, provide lab facilities for students and researchers, and convene events to share and disseminate research findings. The Institute's first undertaking will be an October symposium, Urban Resilience in an Era of Climate Change: Global Input for Local Solutions. Jointly planned by NYC Parks, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, the National Park Service, CUNY, and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the symposium will highlight global and local expertise around urban resilience.
"Cutting-edge science is essential for understanding and managing the precious resources of the Jamaica Bay ecosystem and surrounding communities," Director Jarvis said. "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."
Jamaica Bay continues to be a focus of the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative which is expanding outdoor recreation opportunities, restoring urban natural resources, strengthening outreach programs for school children, improving connections among existing parks, and restoring public access to natural, cultural, and historic resources.
Jewell and Bloomberg were also joined by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Chair of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, to announce that the Interior Department has selected the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to administer the $100 million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program. As called for in the President's Climate Action Plan, the competition will fund projects that promote resilient natural systems while enhancing green spaces and wildlife habitat in needed areas along the Sandy-impacted landscape, enabling coastal communities and key habitats to withstand the impacts of future storms.
"Today's announcements are directly in line with several of the principles at the heart of the Task Force's work, including the emphasis on resilience, the need for a regional approach to rebuilding and consistent engagement with academic, non-profit and philanthropic organizations," said Donovan. "These innovative steps will serve as models for communities across the region and the country as they prepare for impacts of climate change and help them build in a way that makes them stronger, more economically competitive and better able to withstand future storms."
"It's critical that this funding be allocated wisely and with most impact possible so that communities can rebuild stronger and better able to withstand the next storm," said Jewell. "NFWF has a strong track record, and I look forward to working with them on this open competition that will attract and inspire innovative ideas to promote coastal resilience and enhance our nation's natural defense systems."
The grants will fund projects throughout the region affected by Hurricane Sandy to research, restore and rebuild wetlands, beaches and other natural features that protect densely-populated coastal areas, and will safeguard communities, species and ecosystems from future storm damage.
"With our partners at the Department of the Interior and its Bureaus, we will work to restore natural resiliency in the states devastated by Hurricane Sandy," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. "We will make sure these funds are used effectively, efficiently and transparently to help ecosystems recover and to protect coastal ecosystems and populations from future storms."
NFWF will help Interior conduct outreach and workshops to develop a strategic program that aligns with ongoing state, city, local and federal efforts. NFWF will work to leverage the $100 million with other funding sources to better rebuild, restore and research natural defense systems. Projects in areas eligible to receive funding include: Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The Department's Executive Council will select projects for funding based on criteria and a process developed by Interior's Strategic Sciences Group and project evaluation conducted by a panel of federal technical experts. NFWF will not select grant recipients. The program criteria will incorporate infrastructure resilience guidelines recommended by Secretary Donovan's Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.