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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
No. 71
www.nyc.gov/parks

NYC Parks Receives EPA Grant For Salt Marsh Vulnerability Assessment And Planning For Climate Change

Salt Marsh at Udall's Cove, Queens, on Long Island Sound: Victoria O'Neill, Ellen Pehek and Susan Stanley of NRG helping to install a long term monitoring station to assess the vulnerability of the marsh to future sea level rise.
Salt Marsh at Udall's Cove, Queens, on Long Island Sound: Victoria O'Neill, Ellen Pehek and Susan Stanley of NRG helping to install a long term monitoring station to assess the vulnerability of the marsh to future sea level rise.
photo by Ellen Hartig

NYC Parks received a Wetlands Program Development Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 to study the conditions of New York City’s tidal wetlands, or salt marshes, and analyze their vulnerability to climate change and opportunities for protecting them as the sea level rises over the next century. This work will be led by NYC Parks’ Natural Resources Group (NRG). To date, Parks has restored over 90 acres of salt marsh, and has worked to acquire or protect dozens of acres of salt marsh.

New York City has approximately 4,000 acres of remaining tidal wetlands, representing a loss of more than 80% of our historic tidal marsh. NYC is at risk of losing these remaining marshes during this century due to rising sea levels. Through the efforts of non-profit and government agencies working together under the leadership of the Bloomberg Administration, New York City’s harbor is growing significantly cleaner. Coastal habitats are continuing to rebound, including habitats for species that were once a critical part of our cultural heritage, such as alewife and oysters. Through this project, NRG will produce recommendations on how to protect and restore NYC’s salt marsh ecosystem in the face of the challenges of our changing world.

“Preserving salt marshes is essential to the future of our urban environment especially as we recover from Hurricane Sandy,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Veronica White. “In addition to providing habitats for a variety of species of plants, birds, reptiles, fish, and microbes, they also provide natural water quality improvement, shoreline erosion control, and flood protection. This EPA grant is helping Parks take an important step towards the goal of assuring that our salt marshes are maintained and restored to continue to function for humans and the ecosystem.”

This EPA grant for $222,000 is being matched by New York City, and is leveraging additional analysis by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for sea level rise scenario modeling. Over the next two years, Parks will assess conditions and processes at existing salt marshes to determine which marshes are most vulnerable to being drowned by rising sea levels, and develop recommendations for prioritizing restoration and management actions at these sites. Parks will also collaborate with partners to model future tide elevations to identify where low-lying undeveloped land adjacent to marshes can best be preserved to allow marshes to migrate landward over time.

This project builds on the NRG’s work since 1984 to protect and restore salt marsh ecosystems throughout New York City. NRG has worked with regional partners to create the Harbor Estuary Program's Comprehensive Restoration Plan. The Plan prioritizes habitat and ecosystem services protection for the New York City harbor and waterways. NRG also partners with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement large scale salt marsh restoration projects in sites where historic salt marshes were converted to land fill, such as Marine Park in Brooklyn and Soundview Park in the Bronx. The EPA project will incorporate working with these and other partners on planning and restoration projects to create a robust analysis and well-developed policy recommendations for New York City’s salt marshes.

CONTACT: Vickie Karp / Phil Abramson (212) 360-1311

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