Advocacy Alert: Bill to Eliminate the EPA

Capitol bldg JN-web

Friends and Colleagues,

As many of you know, a bill was recently introduced in the House of Representatives that would terminate the Environmental Protection Agency. As a professional organization that advocates for and leads the stewardship, planning, and design of our built and natural environments, it is important for us to defend the future of the EPA. ASLA recently sent a letter to Representative Matt Gaetz (Florida), the author of the bill, urging him to withdraw consideration of the proposed legislation and issued a statement opposing the measure.

Now we need your help. Please click here to easily send a letter to your U.S. House Rep urging them to oppose H.R. 861 which would eliminate the EPA. Forward this link on to friends and colleagues across the country too! I hope you will all join this important effort to protect our environment today. Better yet, CALL your representative! It is usually more effective to speak to government officials or meet in person. To find out who your representatives are and get contact info, go to: and type in your zip code.

Read ASLA’s statement here:

Read the letter to Rep. Gaetz here:
Letter to Mayor De Blasio to Improve Public Spaces for Civic Engagement

Last month a letter to the Mayor was publicized having been drafted by several NYC organizations to bring greater awareness and programing to public space for civic expression. Our Executive Director, Kathy Shea and I have been in conversation with Susan Chin at The Design Trust for Public Space to get involved with the efforts moving forward. Next week we will be meeting with DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to discuss next steps. We will keep you posted on results of that meeting.

Read the letter here:


ASLA Advocacy Day is April 27

Every year chapter presidents and trustees from across the nation meet in DC to advocate for important issues relating to our profession on Capitol Hill. Elizabeth Jordan, Adrian Smith and I will be attending and this year we will sponsor two CCNY students, Robynne Heymans and Jacqui Leboutillier to join us and experience this higher level of service. We are very excited to offer this opportunity to students as future leaders of our chapter!

Interested in learning more about ASLA’s Advocacy news or following current bills?
Go to There you can also sign up to receive email alerts when there is an advocacy alert from ASLA.
NY State Lobby Day is May 17

Representatives from the New York Council of Landscape Architects (NYSCLA), which includes members from our chapter and the Upstate New York chapter, travel to Albany to advocate for landscape architect’s rights. Lobby Day provides an important opportunity for NYSCLA to focus on how proposed and existing state laws and regulations will impact our environment and the profession. Attending Lobby Day is a high priority for our chapter and we welcome your input this year.

If you are interested in learning more or being involved in Lobby Day this year, please contact our Executive Director, Kathy Shea at [email protected]
As always, if you have concerns, ideas or want to be more involved in the profession, please contact us. Our Executive Board represents YOU and we are happy to have your input.

Thank you kindly,
Jennifer L. Nitzky, RLA, ASLA, ISA
ASLA-NY President

Download a PDF version of this letter


September 18, 2015

Click to download a PDF version

The American Society of Landscape Architects – New York Chapter (ASLA-NY), represents nearly 600 professional practitioners, academics and affiliates. We promote long-term ecological health and fitness of the environment including protection of pollinators, which are keystone ecosystem species that provide vital ecosystem services to agricultural, ornamental and natural landscapes. It is part of the society’s mission to share knowledge and encourage communication between public officials and community leaders to improve policies and practices. The White House issued a directive in April, 2015 to Federal agencies, crafted with ASLA assistance, to develop a coordinated approach to protecting pollinators.(1)

In that spirit, we offer this ASLA-NY position paper to inform our members and the public about the issues, especially in regards to New York landscapes. Our goal is to help redirect a suite of human actions which have long-term adverse impacts on pollinators to favor practices which support these very beneficial species.

Pollinators in trouble
Pollinators include managed and wild bees, moths, wasps, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, hornets, flies, beetles and other insects which visit flowering plants, spread pollen from flower to flower, and enable fruits, nuts, acorns, seeds and vegetables to develop. There are another 4,000 species of bees in the US in addition to the honey bee(2) and they play a critical role in pollinating ornamental plants, forests, grassland and wetland species, and food crops.

Populations of many, though not all, managed and wild pollinators are in decline worldwide, resulting in a large and growing body of scientific studies documenting pollinator numbers, causes of decline and the results of strategies intended to help. New research is rapidly adding to the knowledge base for helping pollinators to recover. After reviewing some of the recent research, consulting with scientists and other advocates for pollinator-protection actions, ASLA-NY joins a number of concerned organizations(3) which have issued papers and guidelines for reversing the trend, and helping these populations recover. As additional information becomes available, ASLA-NY’s position may be revised in response to new evidence.

Across the U.S. the number of pollinators has dropped significantly over the last 50 years. Declines in managed honey bee populations have been monitored most closely, with U.S. beekeepers losing an average of 30% of their colonies each winter. Several species of wild pollinator populations, which are more difficult to monitor, also show evidence of widespread loss. For example, approximately half of U. S. and European bumble bee species studied have reduced populations, though a smaller percentage show increases.(4) Read more

Advocating for Park Space at AMNH

SaveTeddyRParkIn September, our chapter was approached to show support for saving Theodore Roosevelt Park at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) on the Upper West Side. The museum proposed plans for expansion on the building’s west side that would encroach the parkland, both reducing treasured green space and potentially removing several large, mature trees. ASLA-NY’s Advocacy and Policy Committee drafted a letter to AMNH President Ellen Futter showing our support for the treasured parkland and urging the museum to reconsider plans in favor of preserving the green space. You can download the letter here or read below. For more information on the Save Teddy Roosevelt Park efforts go to:


September 23, 2015

American Museum of Natural History

Att.: Ellen V. Futter, President

Central Park West at 79th Street

New York, NY 10024-5192


Dear Ms. Futter:

The American Society of Landscape Architects – New York Chapter (ASLA-NY) is a professional organization with over 600 members whose vision is to lead the design and stewardship of our land and communities. We advocate for the preservation of our city’s green space especially as it relates to the health, safety and welfare of the local community.  As Richard Louv states in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder “Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).”

We write you today due to our concern with the proposed expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in Theodore Roosevelt Park. The welfare of the neighborhood surrounding the park is enhanced by the existence and vitality of this treasured green space, designed by well-known New York landscape architect, Judith Heinz. DK Eyewitness Top Ten tour guides labeled the park one of the top ten oases in New York City and we believe it is in the best interest of the city that it be preserved.
Read more

Press Release: ASLA-NY Urges Mayor to Develop Study for Penn Station

August 12, 2015

Dear Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito:

When the City Council voted in 2013 to limit the operating permit of Madison Square Garden to ten years, the American Society of Landscape Architects New York Chapter (ASLA-NY) joined with the Municipal Art Society (MAS) and Regional Plan Association (RPA) to call for a long-range planning effort for this iconic location. We continue to support MAS’ leadership and urge you to consider sustainability, adaptability to future uses, and the incorporation of green space in planning a new Penn Station.

The new structure must be designed with high levels of sustainable and high-performance standards for the site and its users. It should be an energy-efficient building with good indoor air quality – one that incorporates green space, a green roof and possibly green walls. The site should be designed for proper storm water management to reduce/reuse water before going into drainpipes. The new building should have a graceful interface with the pedestrian environment and be complemented by quality public open spaces contributing to the city’s cultural life.

We ask that you immediately start a comprehensive planning study for the area, including the U.S. Post Office site, underground spaces and surfaces with the potential for new green space and plazas. ASLA-NY welcomes the opportunity to assist in the effort to create a redevelopment plan which serves the city well economically, environmentally and culturally. Landscape architects are trained and skilled in the planning and design of our urban environments and public spaces. We bring expertise to the table to help devise the best plans for Penn Station and will collaborate with all appropriate city agencies and professional representatives, as well as the community.

Thank you in advance for your efforts to create a more efficient, environmentally responsible, fair and just city. Let’s make Penn Station an example of excellent coordination and planning.


JNitzky Signature

Jennifer L. Nitzky, RLA, ASLA, ISA

ASLA-NY President

on Behalf of the ASLA-NY Advocacy & Policy Committee

Success for Landscape Architects at the New York City Department of Buildings



Difficulty achieving project approvals from the Department of Buildings has been an on-going challenge for landscape architects. Most department officials only focus on buildings – after all that’s the name of their agency. But in the spring of 2011, Landscape Architects began experiencing absolute road blocks at the agency. To gain DOB approval Landscape Architects had to pay an architect or engineer to sign and seal their landscape drawings and forms. This was even necessary when the landscape architect was the prime consultant on the project.

That practice will finally come to an end on October 1, 2014. After a concerted effort by the ASLA-NY DOB Task Force, the DOB added language to the latest revision to the building code that included a definition of landscape architect and a reference to the professional licensing of our profession including the land development tasks we perform. This was codified in Local Law 141 of 2013 (see excerpt below) which, in one of his last acts as mayor, Michael Bloomberg signed into law.

Landscape Architects will be allowed to submit forms and specific plans based on the clause below (you can download the complete document here:  Local Law 141 of 2013)

This outcome is a direct result of the advocacy work of ASLA-NY. Our local chapter mobilized both members and non-members alike to volunteer their time to effect positive change for our profession. The effort lasted nearly 3 years, culminating in the Task Force Chair, Adrian Smith ASLA testifying before the New York City Council. Other task force members were in the audience ready to testify and still others came to the hearing but were turned away because the hearing room was too small.

Going forward, Landscape Architects with projects in New York City will have a more streamlined approval process for work that falls under the jurisdiction of the Building Department. For that achievement, gratitude is due the ASLA-NY DOB Task Force:

Adrian Smith ASLA, chair
Elena Brescia ASLA
Terri-Lee Burger ASLA
Isabel Castilla
Susannah Drake FASLA
Sergio Ghiano
Justine Heilner
Michael Koontz ASLA
Kate Larsen Aff. ASLA
Signe Nielsen FASLA
Steven Noone ASLA
Elizabeth Silver
Laura Starr ASLA
Lisa Switkin
Karen Tamir ASLA
Annette Wilkus FASLA
Denisha Williams ASLA
Christian Zimmerman FASLA
We should also recognize that National ASLA Advocacy staff helped facilitate our outreach efforts to members and to members of the New York City Council.


LOCAL LAW 141 OF 2013:

§28-101.5 Definitions

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT. A person licensed and registered to practice the profession of landscape architecture under the Education Law of the State of New York.

§28-104.6 Applicant. The applicant for approval of construction documents shall be the registered design professional who prepared or supervised the preparation of the construction documents on behalf of the owner.

Exception: The applicant may be other than a registered design professional for: 

4. Applications for work falling within the practice of landscape architecture as defined by the New York state education law, including but not limited to landscaping and vegetation plans, tree protection plans, erosion and sedimentation plans, grading and drainage plans, curb cuts, pavement plans, and site plans for urban plazas and parking lots, where the applicant is a landscape architect. Landscape architects shall not file plans for stormwater management and plumbing systems;

§28-104.6.1 Verification of professional qualification required. The department shall not accept construction documents or other documents submitted in connection with applications for construction document approval or work permits under this code by any person representing that he or she is [an architect or engineer] a registered design professional or landscape architect without verifying, by means of lists compiled and made available by the New York state department of education pursuant to paragraph e-1 of subdivision four of section sixty-five hundred seven of the education law, that such person meets the qualifications established by law to practice as an architect or engineer in New York state.

  Adrian Smith is ASLA-NY’s current Trustee and is a past chapter President.



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