Today’s news:

Earth Day flotilla launches eco-activists

The Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy held its Ninth Annual Gowanus Canal Earth Day Flotilla, which began with a guided historical and educational eco-cruise of the Gowanus Canal aboard the organization’s unique 32-foot Indian shipping canoe.

Participants were able to learn about present local environmental issues and the current impact of our time, of “Global Climate Disorder,” which are challenging and exacerbating the already polluted historic canal. The group is working to raise public awareness to the Gowanus Canal’s water rising, a condition that had consequently led to flooding of the Gowanus Canal 50 feet onto land and flooded basements and where Ninth Street flooded up to 18 inches of water during the noreaster of 2007.

The tour also included investigating the areas of the Gowanus Canal where removal of floatable debris was crucial. The ceremonial and educational eco-cruise was followed by individual small groups of eco-volunteers armed with landing nets, garbage bags, rakes brooms and shovels and a fleet of smaller Urban Divers boats, to clean-up the water and the shores along the Gowanus Canal.

The Army Corp of Engineers gave a big helping hand by bringing two vessels and assisted a crew from the Urban Divers in the removal of two sunken boats, eight shopping carts, and six large containers of garbage along the shores of the canal.

Jim Morst from the Hudson River Foundation (co-sponsor of the Urban Divers programs) also participated in guiding kayakers in the clean-up effort. Dan Whiley from the office of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez teamed-up with Joel Kupferman from NY Environmental Law and Justice Project with a group of international volunteers from Japan, and visitors from the Bronx and Manhattan to remove 27 bags and three boatloads of debris from the eastern shore of the canal.

In all, 117 garbage bags of the debris were removed from the shore line and water of the Gowanus Canal.

The Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy offers environmental education through recreation programs throughout the summer, such as frequent eco-cruises, conservation support, citizen monitoring and environmental stewardship on the Gowanus, Red Hook Waterfront as well as on other NYC Waterways.

To find how you can get involved, call the Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy’s Gowanus/Red Hook South Brooklyn Harbor Marine Field Station at 718-802-9874, 347-224-5828, or email theurbandivers@yahoo.com.

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