Conservation of Jamaica Bay

Jamaica Bay–home of the only U.S. National Park one can reach by subway–is environmentally stressed in multitudinous way but it’s also a resilient, functioning ecosystem with many admirers.  In 2011 I had a conversation with the head of the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy about the existing Jamaica Bay Institute that led to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Mayor Michael Bloomberg soon announcing plans for a Jamaica Bay ecology center.  With colleagues at Hunter (William Solecki) and Brooklyn College (John Marra & Brett Branco), I helped assemble a proposal and a team of external partners that has been awarded the contract to develop what is now being called the Jamaica Bay Science & Resilience Center.  Work continues to move towards a CUNY-led institution with an assemblage of strong technical and educational partners that will increase our knowledge of Jamaica Bay and also use it as a model for increasing environmental resilience in an urban estuary, a goal with its importance only magnified by Superstorm Sandy.

There are many studies that can and should be done Jamaica Bay.  In 2008 I prepared a Research Opportunities Report for the National Park Service.  In September 2007, my colleague at Queens College, Gillian Stewart and I organized a 24-hour Bioblitz at the Bay in which 273 volunteers discovered nearly 700 plant and animal species.  More recently, Solecki and I worked with  a small team from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and others to  look at possibilities for creating salinity gradients in at least one creek leading to Jamaica Bay.  Though modeling showed only modest possible effects from available water sources, opportunities may exist to add water to upland areas that would create lotic habitats before entering a tidal creek. (Photo is of sorting beach seine catch at the Bioblitz).