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It’s huge. With about 18,000 acres of wetland estuary, it’s larger than Central Park, Prospect Park and Van Cortland Park combined. It’s beautiful. Numerous islands and a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands and freshwater ponds host more than 330 species of birds, 60 species of butterflies, and one of the largest horseshoe crab populations in the Northeast. It’s historic. Over the past two centuries, the area has been used for fish-oil and horse-rendering factories, landfills, sewage treatment plants, harvesting oysters, and of course, various forms of recreation.

And now Jamaica Bay is on display at Resorts World Casino New York City. More information and photos informing on Hidden in Plain Sight: The Wonders of Jamaica Bay, a multi-media exhibition that was unveiled this morning, appear on the jump page.

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Hindus cleanse their sins by making an offering into a body of water. India’s Ganges River is the world’s most famous spot for this ritual, which is called “Ganga Pooja,” but the most common Queens venue is a Jamaica Bay beach on the Broad Channel side of the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge.

Of course, practitioners of this religion are not the only ones who leave litter in Jamaica Bay, but many of their offerings are not biodegradable. Thus, after the Ganga Poojas first appeared roughly 25  years ago, they immediately attracted negative attention from residents of Howard Beach, Broad Channel, and the Rockaways. Enter Sadhana, an NYC-based coalition of Hindus bent on asserting principles of tolerance and inclusiveness.

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It’s time to break away from winter and jump into the great outdoors! Good thing the borough is ready. Tomorrow, the Queens Botanical Gardens will host two programs for nature lovers. At 10 am, the Flushing green space will launch its intergenerational garden (above). Interested individuals will be able to tour the facilities, meet gardeners of all races and ages, and learn the ropes with the coordinator. Then at noon, QBG will offer an introductory workshop on how to grow summer vegetables indoors. Meanwhile just south of Little Neck Bay, Urban Park Rangers will teach wilderness survival at the Alley Pond Park Adventure Center. Participants of all ages will learn how to build shelter, start a fire without matches, and find water sources in a forest. The fun continues on March 10th at the Rockaway Community Park Coastal Clean-Up, where do-gooders will work with Natural Areas Volunteers from the Parks Department to remove debris from the shoreline and protect Jamaica Bay’s natural habitat.

Details:

  • Intergenerational Garden Open House, Queens Botanical Gardens, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, March 8th, 10 am, free.
  • Start Your Summer Veggies Indoors, Queens Botanical Gardens, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, March 8th, noon, $6, advance registration and payment required at education@queensbotanical.org or 718-886-3800 ext. 230.
  • Wilderness Survival, Alley Pond Park Adventure Center, vicinity of Little Neck Bay, Long Island Expressway, Union Turnpike, Springfield Boulevard, Douglaston Parkway and Hanford Street, March 8th, 11 am, free, but call 718-352-1769.
  • Rockaway Community Park Coastal Clean-Up, meet at corner of Almeda Avenue and Beach 58th Street, Far Rockaway, March 10th, 9 am to 1 pm, free, but register via 212-360-3318 or nav@parks.nyc.gov.

Photo: QBG

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The American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation non-profit located in Jamaica Bay, is hosting an ecology tour of Jamaica Bay by boat. It’s a three-hour narrated cruise aboard the 100-foot boat “Golden Sunshine,” which will travel through the backwater marshes near JFK Airport and the 13,000-acre Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Your tour guides, the noted naturalists Don Riepe and Mickey Cohen, will point out nesting peregrine falcons, ospreys, egrets, shorebirds, and waterfowl. It’s scheduled from 3:30 to 6:30 pm, on Saturday, September 28th. Tickets are $55 and include fruit, cheese, wine, and other snacks and refreshments during the trip. You can purchase tickets here.

Photo by peterjr1961

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Image Source: Arcadia Publishing: Jamaica Bay

It’s a chance to make history, star in a movie and live on in perpetuity. Dan Hendrick, who is currently working on the documentary Jamaica Bay Lives, and the Queens Memory Project are looking for people to share their stories, photos, mementos and thoughts on the neighborhoods stretching from Howard Beach through the Rockaways to Breezy Point. On April 24, Hendrick and QMP partners Queens College and Queens Library will be interviewing past and current area residents during Jamaica Bay Community History Night at the Broad Channel Branch Library. Hendrick noted that this is the chance to preserve local history before it becomes a fuzzy memory. He added that Hurricane Sandy has added a whole new chapter to this project.

Jamaica Bay Community History Night
Broad Channel Branch Library
16-26 Crossbay Boulevard, Broad Channel
Wednesday, April 24
4pm – 7pm | Free

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Image source: Ranger Dave Taft, Gateway National Recreation Area

We learned via the Osprey’s Journey blog that Coley, the osprey that scientists have been tracking throughout the winter, has made it back to Jamaica Bay! He was in South America during the winter, but as of 5:20pm on March 20, Coley was spotted by Jamaica Bay naturalist Don Riepe. Coley was “sitting in the marsh by his nest with his mate while she was eating a fish.”

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Image source: NYC Parks Department

The Times Ledger reports that the city Parks Department and National Parks Service have issued a Request for Proposals for kayak, canoe, and bike rental stations, as well as mobile food units on the city and federal land in Jamaica Bay, the Rockaways, and Gateway National Recreation Area. The RFP was issued earlier this week.

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Image source: Gateway National Recreation Area Facebook page – the A train tracks right after Hurricane Sandy

The Times Ledger reports that the damaged length of the A train in the Rockaways should be fixed, up and running by June. This is according to MTA President Thomas Prendergast. We like hearing about progress in the Rockaways, and are hopeful that the restoration of service will be on time.

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Coffee and cocktails are coming to LIC

We love Sweetleaf and are happy to know they are expanding to a second location in LIC, in one of the East Coast buildings (46-15 Center Boulevard – GMAP). This location will feature a twist… in your cocktail! Yes, Sweetleaf and Dutch Kills Bar are teaming up – Rich (Nieto) and Richard (Boccato) to bring you coffee in the daytime an cocktails at night, all in the same space. As for the alcohol, they’ll be offering wine, beer, spirits, and cocktails. One of the cocktails is called the Long Island City Special – blackstrap rum, house coffee liqueur, fresh lemon juice, agave syrup, and seltzer. Yum. Look for the new Sweetleaf in March.

Purim is this weekend, if you can believe it – try a sambusak instead of a hamentaschen

This weekend is Purim – it starts Saturday night at sundown. The most well known food during Purim is the hamentaschen, but our friends at City Spoonful suggest trying a sambusak, which is also in a triangle shape. It is an Iraqi Jewish savory treat – here’s more:

sambusak is a savory pastry filled with spiced chickpeas that is enjoyed by Iraqi Jews on Purim. Sambusaks maintain the triangular shape that is associated with Purim, thereby continuing the tradition of making a mockery of Haman, the detested villain of the Purim story with the three-cornered hat.

They look delicious!

Best known places in Queens, via the twitterverse

We asked the question, “what are the best known places in Queens?” and we got a great response. You can probably guess what some of them are – the Unisphere, the airports, Citi Field. Check out what our twitter friends have to say, right here. Maybe even consider it a super condensed tourist guide to the borough.

A recent trip to Jamaica Bay 

Love the natural images in this very short video.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/59862237]

New commuter composting pilot program starting in Astoria

Have you wanted to compost, but found it hard to do – either inconvenient (travel all the way to Union Square takes time), no place to compost outside, or squeamish of vermicomposting (composting inside with worms)? Well, Build It Green!NYC is starting a pilot program, making composting easy – just drop it off before you get on the subway! Since it’s a pilot program, it’s only taking place near the Broadway N/Q station, but it’s a start. Here are more details:

The new Commuter Composting Pilot is located just outside the entrance of the Broadway N/Q subway station on 31st Street, across from Rite Aid.  This site is open on Tuesdays from 8am-10am. For a list of what you can compost, please visit: www.bignyc.org/compost.

Nice! If you participate, we’d love to know your thoughts on us, so shoot us an email or even tweet us at @queensnycity.

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Favorite bridges, from our readers

This morning we asked, “what is your favorite bridge in NYC?” and got some answers! A couple people really like the Queensboro Bridge:

@QueensNYCity Queensborough Bridge because it’s free.” – Rene2D2‏@I_Am_The_Wall

“The 59th Street/Queensborough/Koch Bridge is my favorite! It was visible from our apartment in LIC and always thought it was more distinctive than the others. Walked across it once. It has a majestic feeling to it. Miss seeing it (now I live in Florida).” – Linda Hervas (in our comments)

We also heard from Mike Anz @mikeanzz about the Hell Gate Bridge: “@QueensNYCity I’m in love with the damn bridge. Might just paint it myself one weekend.”

Beach 91st in the Rockaways before and after

Even after all these weeks and months, we are still shocked by the before and after scenes in parts of the Rockaways. You’d think we’d be used to it but we’re just not. We caught this before and after shot posted by the folks at the Rockaway 100th Precinct Community Affairs Facebook page. It’s just… wow.

Image source: Rockaway 100th Precinct Community Affairs Facebook page

Where will you watch the Super Bowl this Sunday? We’ve got some suggestions as to where to do that.

Our own Danielle McClure put together a short list of some great Super Bowl XLVII spots for Sunday, all right here in Queens – Astoria, Jackson Heights, Bayside, and Elmhurst. There’s plenty of drink, barbecue in some cases, and prix fixes as well. In particular, we love how poetic time at Bourbon Street could be, since the Super Bowl is down in NOLA this year. But Bud’s Ale House, Legend’s, and Play Lounge are also great choices. We hope you have a excellent time, wherever you decide to hang!

Stop Alternate Side Parking Now!

The folks in Hunters Point really don’t want to see alternate side parking (ASP) in their neighborhood. So some residents have put up this page, Stop Alternate Side Parking Now! There sure are some strong opinions – they feel that ASP would be stressful, add extra pollution, and they voice a suspicion many folks in Queens have said casually – that street cleaning as performed as it is does not actually clean the streets (do you agree?). They also give some advice that can be applied to many, many situations like this, “To have even greater impact than just a petition write your personal reasons, hardships, and suggestions for better solutions to our representatives.” Here’s to citizen action.

Jamaica Bay is full of life despite Sandy crashing it

We were pleased to read about all the wildlife in Jamaica Bay these days. The bay was severely damaged after Hurricane Sandy, but nature has a way of repairing itself and moving on. And so it is in process of doing that, and the birds have found their way there. Since it was so cold last week, the snowy owl and snow geese, among other wintering birds, felt right at home. We wonder how they will handle tomorrow’s warm weather, though. We are very fortunate to have such an incredible natural lagoon in our fair borough. If you have some time, it’s well worth a visit, too.