Appalachian Mountain Club

Conservation


Conservation in New York and North Jersey with AMC

Welcome to the Conservation web page of the Appalachian Mountain Club New York-North Jersey Chapter. The Chapter promotes conservation efforts in New York and New Jersey and supports AMC Club-wide conservation efforts. We encourage local advocacy such as writing to elected officials and attending town meetings, employ members’ expertise and enthusiasm for conservation work at Chapter level, and promote conservation awareness as an integral part of Chapter-organized recreational activities.

The chapter covers an area containing unique ecosystems created by the Hudson River as well as the nation’s largest city and a diverse population.

The Conservation Committee welcomes comments, suggestions, and insights from AMC members on conservation matters affecting New York and New Jersey. We are David Hartree (chair), Carrie Ho, Praveen Mahedran, Dawn Riley, and Henry Schreiber. Contact us at conservation@amc-ny.org.

 

What Can You Do to Promote Conservation

Confronting climate change and other challenges can seem like a daunting task, but there’s a lot you can do as an individual. Get started today:

 

Take Action Locally

Make your voice heard on pressing conservation issues such as transportation alternatives and clean energy by contacting elected representatives. Use the large orange Action Items links below to generate pre-filled emails to decision makers. You can also use the messages as phone call scripts. Check back here every few weeks for new action items and let us know what you’re concerned about by emailing conservation@amc-ny.org.

 

New!
Aug 5
Tell New Jersey’s Governor Murphy
New Jersey Needs Funding for the Essex-Hudson Greenway

New Jersey has an opportunity to convert the no-longer used Boonton rail line into an almost nine mile greenspace from Montclair to Jersey City. See this map for the route and communities through which it would pass.

The multi-use Essex-Hudson Greenway would provide local recreation and also a non-motorized commuter transportation corridor for 1 million people who live within 1.5 miles of it. The greenway would be part of the September 11th National Memorial Trail and would connect to other parks.

The current owner of this land, Norfolk Southern Railway, has agreed to sell the land, but funding must be put in place to purchase it. If this is not done by January, the railway will be free to sell to other purchasers, even piecemeal to developers.

Governor Murphy is in favor of this project, but we need him to identify funding that will allow this plan to go forward before it is too late.

Visit these websites to learn more about the trail


New!
May 4
Tell Your New York State Legialature Members
to Support Protection of 30% of New York’s Land by 2030.

National efforts are underway to protect at least 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030 (30×30). This ambitious goal will help mitigate climate change impacts and protect biodiversity. New York State must do its part to reach this goal. There is a bill in the state legislature, S.6191/A.5390-A, that would amend the existing environmental conservation law so that the state’s land acquisition plan would take into account the goal of the state to facilitate the conservation of at least 30% of land in New York State by 2030.

Strategies and methodologies to achieve the goal would include:

  • Safeguards for the state’s economic and sustainability and food security
  • Protections and restoration projects for biodiversity;
  • Enabling enduring conservation measures, to be defined in the plan, on a broad range of landscapes, including urban, suburban, and rural natural areas, watersheds, and working lands, urban and rural agricultural lands, and resilient and conected lands, in partnership with land managers, farmers, and other stakeholder groups
  • Building climate resilience, reducing rsk from extreme climate events, and contributing to the state’s effort to mitigate climate change
  • Expanding access to nature and nature’s benefits in communities in every region of the state, and expanding equitable outdoor access and recreation

See below to learn more about 30X30


New!
Feb 4
Urge your New Jersey Legislators
To pass the Liberty State Park Protection act.

Liberty State Park is an oasis in Jersey City, the second most populous city in New Jersey. It provides recreation for local residents and visitors from further away, and also provides habitation for wildlife. The park has trails for hiking, biking, nature walks, a playground, and areas for fishing and crabbing.

Since opening June 14th 1976 there have been many attempts to take some of the 1,221 acre parkland for commercial use. The most recent is a proposal to lease the Craven Point section, a haven for wildlife, environmental education, and nature explorers to a private luxury golf club for three holes. It was thought that this issue was settled in 2018 when the Department of Environmental Protection rejected this privatization plan.

There is an act, the Liberty State Park Protection Act, under consideration by the New Jersey legislature, which would protect the park, including Craven Point, from privatization and commercial development. However, lobbyists are attempting to have Craven Point exempt from its protection. Your help is needed to protect the park and Craven Point. Write to your legislators now, telling them to fully support the Liberty State Park Protection Act without any exemptions, the only way to end privatization threats.


Call on New York’s Governor Hochul
To sign on to the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program Memorandum of Understanding.

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. New York has a very aggressive climate change law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, requiring the state to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050. While the act would create a plan to look at the transportation sector, New York has an opportunity to act now and sign on to the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program memorandum of understanding. Several other states have already signed on to make transportation in their states cleaner. Tell Governor Cuomo now that we need him to sign the TCI Memorandum of Understanding.

Related to this, you can read below about the Climate and Transportation Initiative and TCI for NY and also view a video about AMC’s Net Zero Initiative.


Call on New Jersey’s Governor Murphy
To sign on to the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program Memorandum of Understanding.

New Jersey has a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Almost half of those emissions come from transportation. The state is implementing programs to electrify transportation, but even more needs to be done. New Jersey should sign the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program Memorandum of Understanding, joining several other states which have already signed. Tell Governor Murphy now that we need him to sign it now!.

Related to this, you can read below about the Climate and Transportation Initiative and also view a video about AMC’s Net Zero Initiative.


Thank New Jersey Governor Murphy
For signing legislation to ban plastic bags.
Plastic bag

With the signing of this bill, New Jersey now has what some consider to be the strongest measure against single-use plastics in the nation.

Single-use plastics become litter on our streets. They take up a large amount of landfills. They go into our waterways and eventually into oceans, where they remain. Most plastics do not disappear over a period of time – they just beak into smaller pieces. The manufacture and transportation of plastic bags and paper bags contributes to air pollution and climate change…

This law addresses part of the plastics pollution problem by prohibiting food service businesses from giving customers single-use plastic bags and polystyrene food containers. The bans apply to a variety of businesses, including restaurants, convenience stores, food trucks, movie theaters, and grocery stores that are 2,500 square feet or larger. Grocery stores specifically would be prohibited from giving paper bags to customers.

What bags are exempt?

  • Reusable plastic carryout bags with stitched handles
  • Bags used solely for uncooked meat, fish, or poultry
  • Bags used solely for loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, grains, baked goods, candy, greeting cards, flowers or small hardware
  • Bags used solely to contain live animals, such as fish
  • Bags used solely to contain food sliced or prepared to order, including soup or hot food
  • A laundry, dry cleaning, or garment bag
  • Bags carrying prescription drugs
  • A newspaper bag

Some additional items will be exempt until 2024.

More information on single-use plastics can be found here.


Urge the New Jersey Assembly and Senate members
To raise environmental protection to constitutional levels.

New Jersey has laws to protect the health of its residents and the environment; yet many water systems contain carcinogens, many residents have health issue due to air quality, and New Jersey has more Supefund sites than any other state. New Jersey residents deserve to have an even higher level of protection of their health and the environment through an amendment to the state constitution, the Green Amendment.

Tell you local senate and assembly members to vote for this amendment, ACR80/SCR30 .

You can read the proposed amendment here. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of superfund sites by state here.

 

In the News

New!
Apr 17

$3 Billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act – New York State took a major step forward for the environment by approving the annual budget which includes provision for a $3 billion bond, the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act. It will be placed on the ballot for approval by voters in the November 2022 general election.

If approved by voters, projects that would be funded include:

  • Restoration and flood risk reduction
  • Water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure
  • Open space land conservation and recreation
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Environmental Justice

For some detail on what would be include in each of the above categories, read this Riverkeeper blog.


New!
Mar 7

Protecting Public Lands and Rivers – On February 26, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act. It now awaits action by the Senate. This act designates several new wilderness areas, protects portions of rivers as components of the National Wild and Scenic River System (NWSRS), expands some existing National Monuments and National Recreation Areas, and permanently bans new mining claims around the Grand Canyon, while helping to protect the clean water resources critical to the livelihoods of local tribal communities.
These designations will further the goal of protecting 30% of the country’s lands and waters by 2030 (see below) and will also help further the Administration’s focus on advancing environmental justice by improving access to clean water, clean air, and healthy outdoor recreation, while supporting local economies and historically underserved communities.


New!
Feb 17

Executive Order on Climate – 30X30 – On January 27, President Biden issued a far reaching Executive Order on Climate with ambitious environmental and conservation goals. Among the many areas within this Executive Order is a section (216 – Conserving Our Nation’s Lands and Waters) to support “30X30” i.e. protection of at least 30% of the countries land and water by 2030. Why is this important? Under the pressures of population growth, increasing consumption, habitat destruction, and rising temperatures, species have been disappearing alarmingly fast, going extinct at 100 to 1,000 times the normal rate seen over the past millions of years. In a major May 2019 biodiversity report the UN warned that 1 million species are at risk of extinction across the world. To protect biodiversity and mitigate climate change impacts, ambitious conservation goals are necessary to fight climate change and to protect the estimated one million species at risk of going extinct. When done well, protected areas provide durable and equitable benefits to people, biodiversity, and habitats.


NY for TCI Logo Appalachian Mountain Club Joins NY for TCINY for TCI is a campaign of environmental, business, and health groups focused on achieving equitable, sustainable, and accessible transportation options in New York State through the multistate Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). The AMC is one of 70 members of this coalition which on November 23, sent a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to take a lead on the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI).

Transportation is a large contributor to the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). By participating in TCI, New York would go a long way towards meeting it goals under the Leadership and Community Protection Act. This law requires New York to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and no less than 85% by 2050 from 1990 levels.

See below in Learn More for additional information about TCI.


Environmental Justice – On September 18, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed a first-of-its-kind bill to provide Environmental Justice. This law requires the Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate cumulative environmental and public health stressors of certain facilities (for example, incinerators, resource recovery facilities, etc.) on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications. Overburdened communities are defined as those where 35% of the households qualify as low-income, or 40% of households are minority, or 40% of households have limited English proficiency.

The bill states

historically, New Jersey’s low-income communities and communities of color have been subject to a disproportionately high number of environmental and public health stressors, including pollution from numerous industrial, commercial, and governmental facilities located in those communities; that, as a result, residents in the State’s overburdened communities have suffered from increased adverse health effects including, but not limited to, asthma, cancer, elevated blood lead levels, cardiovascular disease, and developmental disorders; that children are especially vulnerable to the adverse health effects caused by exposure to pollution, and that such health effects may severely limit a child’s potential for future success; that the adverse effects caused by pollution impede the growth, stability, and long-term well-being of individuals and families living in overburdened communities; that the legacy of siting sources of pollution in overburdened communities continues to pose a threat to the health, well-being, and economic success of the State’s most vulnerable residents; and that it is past time for the State to correct this historical injustice

Read about the legislation here.

 

Learn More


New!
Mar 7

Composting Image of organic compostables

According to a 2018 EPA study on municipal solid waste, 63.13 million tons of food is waste. Of that, 56% by weight goes into landfill and only 4.1% by weight is composted. Food waste in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas which is a contributor to climate change. As with any waste, disposal in a landfill should be the last resort (not all organic food waste is compostable). Reducing the amount of residential food scraps that go into landfills is very easy:

  • buy only what is needed (reduce)
  • save leftovers (reuse)
  • compost (recycle)

Composting can be done in several ways – homeowners can compost in their backyard, apartment dwellers can compost in their home. Composting can also be done by taking food scraps to a composting collection center, or arranging for periodic pickup.

For information on how to compost, both indoors and outdoors use your favorite search engine to find sources on the web.

Some sources for waste drop-off or pickup for composting are

You can view Your Compost Lifestyle with Earth Matter a recorded BEONLINEWITHAMC session. Marisa DeDominicis and Andrea Lieske will describe how Earth Matter successfully manages a food and waste operation. They also will demonstrate how you can make composting a part of your life, whether in your backyard or in your apartment.


Leave No Trace Partner LogoLeave No Trace

You’ve probably heard the phrases “Carry In, Carry Out” or “Take only photographs, leave only footprints”. They’re part of the larger Leave No Trace movement that you can join! The AMC partners with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to provide several different workshops and courses, from basic awareness to Master Educator. Start now by taking a 45 minute Online Awareness Course.


Updated!
Jan 16

Transportation and Climate Initiative LogoTransportation and Climate Initiative

The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a collaborative program of several northeastern and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia. Its purpose is to develop the clean energy economy by coordinating policies and programs among the jurisdictions that will improve the efficiency of transportation and thereby reduce carbon emissions.

The goals of TCI include:

  • reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the transportation sector
  • improving air quality and public health, increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change, and providing more affordable access to clean transportation choices
  • promoting local economic opportunity and creating high quality jobs
  • maximizing the efficiency of the multi-jurisdictional program to ensure greater benefits
  • advancing equity for communities overburdened by pollution and underserved by the transportation system

Participating jurisdictions would pay for their investment in clean transportation by imposing a market-based limit on pollution, known as cap and invest. Jurisdictions would set an overall limit of pollution. Transportation fuel distributors would be required to purchase allowances based on their emissions in auctions run by the states. The total number of allowances offered would decrease each year, which ensures that overall emissions go down. The TCI proposal builds on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that has been successful in reducing carbon emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region from power plants.

Some examples of investments that could be funded by cap and invest are:

  • Improving the reliability of public transportation
  • Repairing existing roads and bridges and making transportation infrastructure more resilient to climate change
  • Expanding high speed internet for rural and low-income communities
  • Electrifying school buses and transit buses
  • Providing bus rapid transit and developing new bus routes in suburban and rural communities
  • Electrifying port and freight facilities
  • Expanding safe bike lanes, walking trails, and sidewalks
  • Providing consumer rebates for electric and low-emission vehicles
  • Developing interstate electric vehicle charging corridors
  • Offering incentives for continued telecommuting to reduce congestion

On December 21 the Governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and the Mayor of Washington, DC, signed TCI’s Memorandum of Understanding (mou). This is a major step which commits those jurisdictions to actually implement their TCI programs. While the other participants in TCI (including New Jersey and New York) have not yet signed the mou, some or all might do so.

Get up to speed by exploring TCI’s website to learn more, watching a video that explains the TCI initiative, and reading what the AMC has written about cleaner transportation solutions.