Gateway Hosts Marsh Restoration Volunteers
On Sunday, August 8, Gateway National Recreation Area hosted a volunteer recognition event at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to recognize those that contributed their time to a marsh restoration effort at Big Egg Marsh, Broad Channel. Acting Unit Superintendent Chris Soller thanked the volunteers for their hard work and dedication to the project. The volunteers were given certificates and “Protect Jamaica Bay” lapel pins as tokens of appreciation for their conservation efforts. National Park Service Scientist, George Frame, offered a tour of the restoration site at Big Egg and an update on the project.
Gateway National Recreation Area is the primary steward of Jamaica Bay: a natural oasis in the midst of New York City. The bay’s salt marshes are invaluable to birds, fish and other wildlife. These wetlands are also critical to the health and protection of Jamaica Bay’s coastal communities, by improving water quality through the filtering of pollutants, and by buffering storm surge and reducing wave action.
Unfortunately, Jamaica Bay salt marshes have been deteriorating at an alarming rate that appears to be accelerating. If this rate of loss continues, marsh islands in Jamaica Bay could vanish completely in the next 20 to 25 years. The National Park Service and other public agencies, with a responsibility to protect the bay, are exploring the causes of this loss and seeking ways to mitigate this problem.
Last year the National Park Service coordinated a multi-agency pilot project aimed at restoring a two-acre parcel of degraded marsh in Jamaica Bay. Sediment was applied to the marsh surface at Big Egg Marsh and then planted with over 20,000 seed-lings of marsh grass.
Over 80 volunteers contributed to the project, donating approximately 1000 hours of their time and effort to the cause. The plantings took root and survived the winter, and have shown promising growth over the spring and summer.
While initial restoration of the site is now complete, much work will continue as scientists and volunteers monitor the site to evaluate the success of the method that was used. It is hoped that the project at Big Egg Marsh will serve as demonstration for future restoration efforts in Jamaica Bay.
From now through September, a photography exhibit documenting the Big Egg Marsh project is on display at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Contact Station. Professional photographer Michael Unold donated his time and expertise throughout the summer of 2003 to photo document the work at Big Egg, and the hands on volunteer stewardship that helped make it all happen.
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located on Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel.