Habitat Type: Grassland, Salt Marsh
Although small in size, the interior portion of the site contains one of the most diverse upland maritime plant communities on the Jamaica Bay shoreline. Maritime shrubland plants that are absent from much of the rest of the region, such as eastern red cedar and American holly, occur here. There are a variety of marshland grasses and sea lavender on the western shore of the peninsula, and beach heather, bayberry thickets, and woodland species further upland. The preserve also hosts various breeding songbirds, nesting kingfishers, and black-crowned night herons. The sandy upland provides nesting habitat for diamondback terrapins.
Vernam Barbadoes Preserve occupies the greater part of the Terrapeninsula, which extends into Jamaica Bay in the Rockaway section of Queens. The peninsula is flanked by two silt-filled inlets, the Vernam and Barbadoes Basins. For centuries Rockaway has been an ever-shifting barrier beach, simultaneously protecting the mainland and supporting New York’s coastal wildlife and the rich marshland of Jamaica Bay. In addition to hosting a wide variety of plants and animals, Jamaica Bay is a major stop in the migration cycles of thousands of species of birds. Along with natural features in the Jamaica Bay Parks and Wildlife Refuge, the Vernam Barbadoes Preserve is part of the 64,000 acre Gateway National Recreation Area that was established in 1972.