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New York recycles bridges into artificial reefs

5 Aug 19 Recycled materials from road, bridge and canal projects as well as a retired US Army boat are being used to create new marine habitats in New York.

State governor Andrew Cuomo has launched the second year of the artificial reef expansion programme. Materials placed at Fire Island Reef and six other reefs will continue the state's efforts to provide new marine habitat, promote biodiversity and restore fishery resources.

Recycled materials from the Staten Island Expressway, Kew Gardens and Kosciuszco bridges, Erie Canal and the retired US Army Corps of Engineers steel vessel M/V Hudson are being deployed at Fire Island Reef to create a new marine habitat.

Colonel Tom Asbery, commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers New York District, said: "The MV Hudson now embarks on its second career and will continue in service to the nation by creating marine habitat and providing recreational opportunities for fishing and diving. I am very proud of the state and federal teamwork and initiative that allowed us to decommission an iconic vessel of our fleet after 56 years of service, and to use it for public benefit in lieu of it being recycled for scrap metal."

The 300ha Fire Island reef is located two miles from shore with a depth of about 20m. Other planned reefs are at Atlantic Beach, McAllister Grounds, Yellowbar, Kismet, Matinecock and Twelve Mile. They will be strategically placed to improve New York's marine life and boost Long Island's recreational and sport fishing and diving industries.

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“Reefs are great for the environment and the economy, and the new reefs created under our comprehensive artificial reef program are already incredibly successful,” said Cuomo. “We are going to continue this success by bolstering the Fire Island reef with an assortment of material, and show that New York, and Long Island in particular, can and will be the showcase to demonstrate how to build a green economy and a green environment for the rest of the nation."

Nearly 1,000t of materials are being used from the Staten Island Expressway and the Kew Gardens Kosciuszkos, including girders, pipes and a sign structure. Gates, steel pontoons and lift bridge sections from the Erie Canal are among the other materials being used.

Monitoring surveys have documented an increase in angler activity on the reef sites since the Reef Initiative started in 2018.

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