Keep the wetlands wet and wild.
The Natural Areas Conservancy and the city Parks Department released a plan last Wednesday to restore New York wetlands and keep them healthy over the next 30 years.
To do that, the new report, titled “Wetlands Management Framework for New York City,” identifies more than 300 acres of wetland restoration projects in NYC Parks properties — many of them situated in Jamaica Bay and other sections of Queens.
The report points out that of the 5,650 acres of wetlands in New York City today, around half of that total is managed by NYC Parks. That is a small fraction of the city’s historical wetlands from about 400 years ago — 85 percent of which were destroyed by sea-level rise, development and pollution as New York City has grown.
The report describes wetlands as an essential part of the ecosystem, which provide recreation opportunities, enhance resilience to climate change and support hundreds of species of birds, plants and fish. Their value is immense. Every year more people visit Jamaica Bay than Yellowstone National Park, it points out.
The report’s goals include creating new wetlands, transferring about 93 acres of publicly owned property to Parks Department’s jurisdiction, acquiring another 50 acres currently under private ownership, dedicating funds for capital restoration of 288 acres of marshes and increasing wetlands staffing.
Several of its top priority projects are in Queens. The borough’s highest priority project is in Rosedale’s Idlewild Park, where the report recommends spending $3.6 million for sediment placement, a process that builds on an existing marsh that is drowning due to sea-level rise.
The report’s second-priority projects in Queens all involved removing historical landfills on former salt marshes or ponds to restore the wetlands. It recommends a $9.7 million fill removal project in Alley Pond Park, a $6.1 million project in Brandt Point, a $130,000 project in Broad Channel and a $4.8 million project in Ramblersville.