The future of the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Gateway National Recreation Area rests in the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers and we have the power to help shape the outcome we want.

After the devastation from Superstorm Sandy, Congress directed the Army Corps to put together a plan to protect the region from future flooding which is becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change. After years of planning, the Army Corps is proposing to build massive, 20-foot high in-water flood gates. These massive gates would only address one kind of flooding and would block water flow and public waterfront access. They would jeopardize the harbor’s water quality and severely impact wildlife such as Humpback whales, which have recently returned to the region. This outdated plan fails to protect people and our parks from more frequent, everyday flooding from heavy rainfall, rising sea levels and more. And it’s the most expensive Army Corps project ever, costing tax payers $52.6 billion! It’s time for the Army Corps to adhere to federal law and design solutions that address harms from climate change including myriad flooding threats so that residents and the National Parks of New York-New Jersey Harbor are protected now and in the future.

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Among their targets for a flood gate includes Jamaica Bay, the heart of Gateway National Recreation Area and a top five most visited national park. Nearly 9 million people visit the urban park annually to escape city life and explore its trails, views, beaches, wetlands and wildlife. Jamaica Bay is a wild place with salt marshes, ponds and woods that are home to more than 330 bird species.

As proposed, the plan would include a barrier system of 12 flood gates, some 20 feet high or more, across the NY-NJ Harbor. It would include 84 miles of concrete and steel walls. It would destroy viewsheds, pave what’s left of the invaluable greenspaces along the city’s waterfront and block public access that we fought to preserve after Sandy. This outdated, one-size-fits all approach would restrict water flow into the estuary. If closed, areas behind the gates would experience an overflow of already contaminated waters, leaving the city and parklands more vulnerable to flooding and dirtier water, risking public health and safety.

The Army Corps’ $52 billion dollar taxpayer-funded proposal jeopardizes the future of New York Harbor’s national parks and needlessly subjects vulnerable communities to common and frequent types of floods. The Corps must hit the pause button and design a better plan that protects residents and parklands from all kinds of climate-induced flooding, as federal law requires. The future of New York’s Harbor rests in the hands of the Army Crops. NPCA calls on Congress, the states of New York and New Jersey and the City of New York to hold the Corps accountable.

Lauren Cosgrove, campaign director for the National Parks Conservation Association

That’s why NPCA, along with 40+ organizations are calling for a plan that is a stronger, smarter and offers a layered approach for maximum protection. That includes solutions that are nature-based along with wastewater upgrades and retrofitting buildings to deal with flooding, higher sea levels and heavy rainfall. All of which considers the long-term viability of our coastlines, natural resources, our local economy and improves the quality of life for 16 million people that live and work here. If you’re in New York and New Jersey, take action today!

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