There is no shortage of things to say about 2020. Throughout this unprecedented year, NCA remained diligent in finding new ways to achieve our mission to Reveal, Restore and Revitalize Newtown Creek. Below are some of the highlights and key partnerships from this past year (also check ou our Tidal Toast video showcasing much of our work leading up to and continuing throughout 2020). Enjoy!
(1) COVID severely limited our ability to host field trips and run public tours, so we created 24 educational videos about Newtown Creek and our Urban Ecology STEM curriculum, including virtual field lessons, intro to Creek topics, virtual tours with Mitch Waxman, and live from the water videos (made possible by generous support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation).
(2) We hosted 14 socially distanced and outdoor cleanup/planting events at 9 different sites around Newtown Creek. In total hundreds of volunteers removed thousands of pounds of debris and invasive species while helping to restore public shoreline areas. We were also able to expand NCA’s staff and welcomed Brenda Suchilt as our part time horticulturalist to us maintain and grow the various wildlife habitats areas that we manage.
(3) In Long Island City, we replanted the 48th avenue median as a native wildflower meadow. In conjunction with NYC DOT and our partners from Hunters Point Parks Conservancy we planted over 750 plants, including 27 different native species on this formerly unmaintained 3,300 sq foot median.
(4) We completed our fifth consecutive summer of extensive water quality monitoring, collecting over 1,800 data points, measuring oxygen, bacteria, wildlife observations and more. Shoutout to our partners from the NYC Citizens Water Quality Testing program who established a new lab in Williamsburg since many others, including our go to at LaGuardia College, were shut down due to COVID.
(5) We documented, investigated and reported 14 separate incidents of illegal dumping and/or discharges directly impacting Newtown Creek. Working with responsible parties, our partners at Riverkeeper, and agencies at the city, state and federal levels we were able to rectify these instances of pollution and protect the Creek.
(6) We joined as a party to the National Grid rate case (wherein the company is seeking to make customers pay for their expansion of fracked gas infrastructure in the Newtown Creek watershed); spoke out at press conferences and events about the North Brooklyn Pipeline; and filed comments to the NYS DEC about a current air permit application for Grid’s highly polluted Newtown Creek facility. This fight is far from over and we must thank our partners from Sane energy and the No North Brooklyn Pipeline Coalition for leading the charge.
(7) Through our leadership roles within the Superfund Community Advisory Group (CAG) we advocated against a proposed “No Further Action” plan regarding Combined Sewer Overflow into the Creek and pushed back on a responsible party led effort to focus early cleanup efforts on the least hazardous areas of the Creek. To date, the EPA has yet to make a final determination about either action.
(8) With funding from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, we partnered with Greenpoint Innovations in the creation of Iena Cruz’s High Tide mural on the side of the Hunters Point Campus in Long Island City. This beautiful mural depicts the past, present and future of our local waterways – showcasing native wildlife and the value in combating pollution. Many thanks to the numerous project partners and supporters who helped bring this lasting public art piece to LIC.
(9) In December we raised over $17,000 from 70 different donors as part of matching donation campaign to support the further development of the Dutch Kills Loop, a proposed 1.2 mile circuit of potential open space and waterfront access in Long Island City, Queens. We are very excited to work with our partners to expand this project in 2021, and look forward to having you join us!
(10) And just this week, we launched an online petition to NYC Department of Transportation and Economic Development Corporation calling for revisions to the shortsighted Vernon blvd shoreline design to ensure waterfront access and ecological benefits, as has been requested by the community for the past 20 years. Read more about the background on this issue and sign the petition today!
We are proud of what we accomplished during such a tumultuous year and sincerely grateful for our network of collaborators and supporters who make this all possible. We look forward to a safer and more just 2021. Until then please stay diligent in protecting yourself, your community and our environment.