Invitation to DredgeFest NYC

[Left: The British Headquarters Map, circa 1782, considered one of the most detailed surveys of Mannahatta’s early topography and ecology. Right: Mannahatta map illustrating the differences in the island’s elevation between 1609 and today. Grays and blacks indicate increases in elevation, mainly waterways that have been filled in, while browns indicate decreases in elevation, such as leveling hills for construction. Images courtesy of the WCS Mannahatta Project.]

Dredging—and the galaxy of technologies that surround it—constitute perhaps the greatest unrecognized landscape architecture project in the world. Dredge shapes our beaches and waterways, it is driven by what we do to distant upstream forests and fields, it plays a key role in global shipping networks and in coastal real estate.

The mechanized transport of underwater sediments is a key moment in a wider cycle of linked activities – the dredge cycle –  through which humans act as intentional and unintentional geologic agents, accelerating and decelerating the movement of silts, sands, and clays. If we are living, as many scientists contend, in the Anthropocene, a new geologic era characterized by human action, then understanding dredge is essential to understanding the world we are making for ourselves…

[Elder’s Point marsh island, Jamaica Bay, 2003.  Approximately 1,400 acres of tidal salt marsh have disappeared from the Jamaica Bay marsh islands over the last century, with the rate of loss accelerating in recent years.  Experts debate the causes of the erosion of the marsh islands, which include rising sea levels and warmer temperatures, high nitrogen input from urban stormwater run-off, high volumes of treated wastewater, and historic dredging of the bays channels]

[Elder’s point island, 2008.  In 2006 and 2007 the NY/NJ Army Corps of Engineers restored 40 acres of marsh as mitigation for environmental impacts of the New York & New Jersey Harbor Deepening Project (HDP), using material dredged from the HDP channels.]

[Elders Point Island, 2010]

As a member of the Dredge Research Collaborative, I’m excited to announce and invite readers to DredgeFest NYC, a symposium about the human acceleration of sediments and the technologies and techniques we’ve invented which manage them.  Happening September 28th and 29th, 2012, DredgeFest will be hosted by Studio-X NYC and consist of a half day symposium (Friday, Sept. 28th @ Studio-X NYC) and a guided boat tour of the NYC/NJ Harbor (Saturday, Sept. 29th).  The symposium has a great lineup of speakers and participants that includes:

Lisa Baron, Project Manager, Harbor Programs Branch, USACE New York District
Eric Sanderson, Landscape Ecologist, Wildlife Conservation Society and author of Mannahatta
Andrew Genn, Senior Vice President, NYC Economic Development Corporation
Roger Hooke, Research professor, University of Maine
Bill Murphy, Managing Scientist, e4sciences
Douglas Pabst, EPA’s Dredged Material Management Integration Workgroup, NY/NJ Harbor
Vicki Ginter, Regional Market Manager, Tencate Geosynthetics Americas
Catherine Seavitt, Associate Professor, CCNY; Principal, Catherine Seavitt Studio
Dave Avrin, Chief of Resources at Gateway National Recreation Area, NPS
Hans Hesselein, Director of Special Projects, Gowanus Canal Conservancy
Debbie Mans, Baykeeper & Executive Director, NY/NJ Baykeeper
Kate Orff, Partner, SCAPE; Assistant Professor, Columbia University GSAPP

Saturday’s boat tour will take us out on the water to observe the anthropogenic cycling of sediments in the NY/NJ Harbor.  We will get up close views of active deepening of the Ambrose Channel to accommodate post Panamax shipping vessels, as well as the beneficial reuse and application of that material in Jamaica Bay.  The National Park Service and the US Army Corps of Marines will be on board to comment on nascent land generation scenes such as this:

[Image courtesy of NY USACE]

The symposium at Studio-X NYC (map) is free and open to the public.  More information about the event and future updates can be gleaned from our DredgeFest NYC website.

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