Jamaica Bay Institute

National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, Gateway National Recreation Area

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Salt marsh with New York City skyline in background

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Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Overview and History

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is one of the most important urban wildlife refuges in the United States. Encompassing 9,155 acres, it is comprised of diverse habitats including salt marsh, several fresh and brackish water ponds, upland field and woods, and an open expanse of bay and islands – all located within the limits of New York City.

The refuge was initially “created” and managed by the NYC Parks Department. In 1951, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, after consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ordered the creation of two large fresh water ponds, today known as the East Pond (100 acres) and the West Pond (45 acres).

In 1953, NYC Parks Department employee Herbert Johnson was transferred to the site and became the first refuge manger.

In 1972, the refuge was transferred to the National Park Service as part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

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Last updated: August 12, 2004
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