Jamaica Bay is situated within the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, New York City. Approximately 8 miles long by 4 miles wide, it covers 26 square miles, and opens into the Atlantic Ocean via the Rockaway Inlet. Jamaica Bay is recognized by the United States Fish and Wildlife (USFW) as a coastal habitat deserving preservation and restoration of habitats which contribute to sustaining and expanding the region's native living resources. Jamaica Bay is a highly productive habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species. These species breed and use the area as a nursery for juvenile birds that reside in the area during winter and migratory birds that stop-over during fall and spring.
The Jamaica Bay Marsh Islands are at the heart of the complex urban ecosystem of Jamaica Bay that is a part of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior - Gateway National Recreation Area (GNRA), first urban National Park, established in 1972 and is a key component of the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative.
The Marsh Islands Complex is an integral part of Jamaica Bay Ecosystem and has been targeted for restoration. It is estimated that approximately 1,400 acres of tidal salt marsh have been lost from the marsh islands since 1924, with the system wide rate of loss rapidly increasing in recent years. From 1994 and 1999, an estimated 220 acres of salt marsh were lost at a rate of 47 acres per year. Left alone, the marshes were projected to vanish by 2025, destroying wildlife habitat and threatening the bay's shorelines. To date, there is no consensus among ecological experts on the cause of the erosion of the marsh islands, which range from rising sea levels and warmer temperatures to nitrogen input from stormwater run-off. Representatives from federal, state and local agencies have helped to "jumpstart" the ecological process acknowledging that these daunting challenges to restoring an urban estuary need to be overcome.
In response to these losses, under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Continuing Authorities Program (CAP), the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) requested assistance in implementing one or more marsh island restoration projects.
A 2006 Report titled "Jamaica Bay Marsh Islands, Jamaica Bay, NY, Integrated Ecosystem Restoration Report" recommended restoration of three marsh islands: Elders Point East, Elders Point West and Yellow Bar Hassock.
As of 2005, Elders Point was comprised of two islands, Elders East and Elders West totaling 21 vegetated acres. Originally one island comprised of 132 acres, the loss of marsh in the center portion severed the two ends, resulting in two separate islands connected by mudflat. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer activities at Elders Point East Marsh Island in 2006-2007 involved restoring 40 acres of marsh constructed for mitigation purposes to offset environmental impacts of the New York & New Jersey Harbor Deepening Project (HDP). In 2010, the USACE, in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the National Park Service restored approximately 40 additional acres at Elders Point West as a result of the beneficial use of dredged material from the HDP.
The restoration plan for Elders East and West included restoring the existing vegetated areas and the sheltered and exposed mudflats by placing dredged sand up to an elevation suitable for low marsh growth. This included hand planting more than 700,000 plants (grown from local seed stock by the National Resources Conservation Service) on East and replanting more than 200,000 plants on West. On Elders East, Spartina alterniflora was planted throughout the low marsh zone. A mixture of Spartina alterniflora, Spartina patens (salt hay), and Distichis spicata (spike grass) were planted in the zones between low marsh and upland.
As part of the NY/NJ Harbor-Jamaica Bay Multi-Project Initiative, sand from the Ambrose Channel was beneficially reused from the Harbor Deepening project to create an additional 80 acres of marsh island habitat within Jamaica Bay. During February and March 2012, 375,000cubic yards of sand was placed at Yellow Bar Hassock Marsh Island resulting in 67 acres of new marsh island and approximately 44 acres of wetlands (including ~ 16 acres of hummock relocation. 29 acres of low marsh seeding, 27,722 high marsh plants, and 20,000 high marsh transition plants). Marsh construction was completed on 2 August 2012.
Placement of 95,000 cubic yards of sand was initiated at Rulers Bar Marsh Island on 29 August in order to create an additional 22.2 acres of marsh. Once completed, pipeline infrastructure will be moved to Black Wall Marsh Island to place 125,000 cubic yardsof Ambrose sand to create another 12.2 acres of marsh. The District will continue to work with the NYCDEP and the NYSDEC as they lead a community based planting effort to vegetate these islands.
Ambrose Channel sand was also beneficially used in September and October 2012 to restore an additional 30 acres of marsh islands at Black Wall (155,000 cubic yards of sand, 20.5 acres) and Rulers Bar (95,000 cubic yards of sand – 9.8 acres). Black Wall and Rulers Bar Marsh Islands were constructed as part of the USACE Beneficial Use Program along with USACE partners NYCDEP, NYSDEC, and The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The marsh island restoration efforts are being monitored and are providing valuable data on the cause of the problems and helping identify the most effective future restoration options. This program also has significant implications for the future success of restoration activities from beneficially using sand from the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Program.
-- Restoration in the Bay Presentation
-- Request for Expressions of Interest, Jamaica Bay Science and Resilience Center City of New York and National Park Service
For information, please contact:
Lisa Baron, Project Manager