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Salt Marsh Restoration Project
To help explain this
complex saltmarsh restoration process an interactive animation
of the process has been created. Click the image below to begin.
[If you are having problems starting the program you may need
to download the latest version of Macromedia
Gateway National Recreation
Area is the steward of Jamaica Bay: a natural oasis in the midst
of New York City. Its saltmarsh habitats are invaluable to birds,
fish and other wildlife. Wetlands are also critical to the health
and protection of coastal communities. They improve water quality
by filtering pollutants, and are the first defense against storm
surge and coastal erosion.
Saltmarsh islands in Jamaica Bay have been deteriorating at an
unprecedented rate of 50 acres a year. If this rate of loss continues,
marsh islands in Jamaica Bay will vanish by the year 2025. This
environmental degradation has primarily resulted from centuries
of human-induced alterations to the bay for urban development.
They include: dredging of channels, creation of borrow pits, filling
in of marshes, and bulkheading the shoreline. These activities
have cumulatively affected the natural sediment supply to the
bay. In a healthy marsh, sediment is continually replenished,
keeping the surface elevation in pace with sea level rise. However,
in Jamaica Bay, the marshlands are losing sediment quicker than
it is being replaced, resulting in the drowning of marsh grasses
and the sinking of marsh islands.
Gateway National Recreation Area is conducting a two acre pilot
restoration project at Big Egg Marsh to test whether adding several
inches of dredged sediment will replenish the marsh sufficiently
to reverse the trend of deterioration. Sediment is applied through
a pressurized spray nozzle in thin layers on the marsh surface.
This low impact method fills in the depressions, while allowing
the remnant grass to spring back and avoid damage.
The site is carefully monitored
to evaluate the effectiveness of this restoration method. Results
will provide guidance to the National Park Service and other federal
and state agencies who are committed to restoring this precious
resource to a healthy estuary.