2009-10-02 / Community

Norton Basin Clean-Up Crew Removes Invasive Plants

Youth volunteer holding Mugwort, an invasive plant species. Youth volunteer holding Mugwort, an invasive plant species. Young volunteers and community members joined together for Rockaway Waterfront Alliance's Community Weekend Workshop. Students were joined by members of Norton Basin Edgemere Stewardship Group and Audubon Society as they set about their task of conservation by clearing Norton Basin of debris and invasive plant species.

Norton Basin, an extension of Michaelis-Bayswater Park, is a fragile tidal marsh area that is subject to illegal dumping and pollution. Unlike other parts of Michaelis-Bayswater Park, the area of Norton Basin is vulnerable due to the high volumes of public access to the area. During times of high tide, the water can be seen from the sidewalk that is separated by a metal buffer at Norton Avenue, a small street that spans only a few blocks.

Marlen Waaijer of Norton Basin Edgemere Stewardship Group explained to the volunteers the constant flux of water from the estuary and Norton Basin's unique ability to adapt to the changes and stewardship that has proved to be vital to the health of the surrounding areas including plant and animal life.

John Rowden of the Audubon Society explaining habitat differences between the bay and the ocean. John Rowden of the Audubon Society explaining habitat differences between the bay and the ocean. "The area was a dump before we came in", said Marlen, "and now it is thriving again." The area serves as a beacon of light in comparison to the usual dumping that occurs in Rockaways most fragile area. However, small traces of Norton Basin's harsh past could still be seen as volunteers followed John Rowden of the Audubon Society, out into the tidal areas. Rowden talked about the wildlife in the area. A shopping cart, plastic bags, and smaller debris had drifted into the thick, low intertidal zones of grasses and reeds, and out of the reach of the community members who wish to see the area completely cleaned and restored.

Despite the limited resources and naturally occurring barriers that restrict cleaning efforts, all the participants in the Community Weekend Workshop were able to band together as a force to be reckoned with. They gathered approximately 300 pounds of invasive ragweed and mugwort, plants that have begun to stifle the native plants of the basin. The workshop was a tremendous success, and those who are interested in participating in similar conservation efforts around Jamaica Bay can contact RWA directly at volunteer@rwalliance.org or 718- 327-5919 ext.7.

Volunteer picking up litter and pulling invasive species from Norton Basin. Volunteer picking up litter and pulling invasive species from Norton Basin.

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