Beaches Reopen Before Memorial Day, but Is It Safe to Go?
As the nation prepares for Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer season, beaches have started to allow access to the public, but have asked people to maintain social distancing guidelines, as CNN reported.
In Ocean City, New Jersey, a loudspeaker on the boardwalk blasted out messages every 15 minutes urging people to keep apart. "Please remember to practice social distancing while walking the boardwalk and beach. Thank you for respecting this request," the message announced, as CNN reported.
All beaches on the Jersey Shore will reopen after Memorial Day, though local towns have jurisdiction over how many beach permits they issue. Gov. Phil Murphy also said the beaches will have to adhere to strict capacity guidelines.
Ocean City was one of three Jersey Shore beaches to take a dry-run at what reopening would look like. While people maintained distance on the beach, the boardwalk was another story, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
"[T]housands who crowded the Ocean City boardwalk ignored social-distancing safety protocols, standing close and even brushing against one another as the Shore readied for an uncertain summer season," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
In Connecticut, authorities had to close at least 15 parks and beaches after parking lots reached capacity on Saturday. In Massachusetts, beach parking lots remain closed, with pedestrians allowed to partake in "passive recreational activities that only involve transitory movement (walking, jogging, running, etc.) and … solitary beach fishing," according to The Associated Press.
Maine is following similar guidelines as Massachusetts as it attempts a soft reopening to see how people will follow the rules. Beaches there are reopening for movement-only activities, which include walking, running, fishing and surfing. Beachgoers are also asked to stay at least six feet apart, as the Bangor Daily News reported.
The no-sitting or sun-bathing protocol seemed to work in California too where thousands of people flocked to Los Angeles beaches for swimming and surfing, according to ABC News Los Angeles. Piers are shut down, as are most parking lots. Bike paths are also closed, but many people were out cycling.
"It was amazing. We've been pretty cooped up like everybody and to get out here and get in the water. The water is really nice, surprisingly warm," said Chris Kyle, a beachgoer, to to ABC News Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and police were on patrol targeting people not adhering to the mandate to keep a physical distance of 6 feet apart.
New York City, however, is another story. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city's beaches will remain closed for Memorial Day.
"I've said it before and I'm gonna say it again," de Blasio said during his daily briefing on Sunday, as Newsday reported. "We are not opening our beaches on Memorial Day. We are not opening our beaches in the near term. It is not safe. It is not the right thing to do in the epicenter of this crisis."
That has officials in nearby Long Island worried that crowds that normally flocked to the city's beaches will now head farther east.
Democratic State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who represents an area just outside Rockaway, told Newsday, "I think it is bad for everyone. We all have to be on the same page this upcoming weekend. If we hit hot weather, if we hit beach weather I can tell you the officials out where I am, at every level of government, are preparing for a very chaotic scene because city beaches won't be open."
"Everyone has a right to enjoy a safe summer with fresh air and relief from the heat, which is why the mayor's refusal to implement social distancing guidelines and enforcement to keep NYC beaches open, like every other municipality in the tristate area, is both irresponsible and short sighted," said Nassau communications director Christine Geed to Newsday.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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