Back in 2010 LaGuardia Community College professor, and Newtown Creek enthusiast, Dr. Sarah Durand proposed creating metal frames that could house native salt marsh grasses on the otherwise flat surfaces that line most of Newtown Creek’s shores. These marine planters would be fixed to the bulkheads at the same elevation in the tidal cycle that grasses would exist in a natural intertidal zone, submerged in salt water near high tide and left dry as tides receded twice a day. Such plants have great potential in improving nutrient imbalances that currently have a drastic impact of the quality of water in Newtown Creek. Since then the project was selected by the City Parks Foundation to receive funding (approximately $500,000 total), the firm OutsideNY was selected as program manager and pilot plantings began in 2013.
This summer saw the fabrication, installation, planting and now monitoring of nearly a dozen of the frames. Durand, Carter Craft (of OutsideNY), a number of LaGuardia environmental science students and trained volunteers from the North Brooklyn Boat Club have helped reintroduce salt marsh grasses that once covered much of area surrounding Newtown Creek. In other words, native species likely not seen on the creek in the past 100 years are back – and they are not just surviving, they are thriving! Many of the Spartina alterniflora species have had tremendous growth since being planted – both near the Pulaski Bridge, Whale Creek and the head of Dutch Kills (where water quality is typically much worse). They even created a nifty little flier about the project.
NCA is very excited to help push this project forward and help bring further ecological restoration to the creek. Stay posted for more updates as the project develops and more planters are installed.