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Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary

Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary is named to honor two environmentalists Dr. Rene (1901-1982) and his wife Jean Dubos (1918-1988). Dr. Rene Dubos accomplishments are widely known. Born in France, on February 20, 1901, Dubos is commonly recognized as the primary developer of modern antibiotics. In 1939, Dubos isolated a microorganism that was used in the first antibiotic to be commercially manufactured. In later life, his attention shifted to humankind’s relationship with the natural environment. As advisor to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (1972), Dubos coined the phrase “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Rene Dubos died in 1982 and was survived by Jean, who was the moving force behind the formation of this sanctuary. Its creation corresponds with the Dubos’ vision of global environmentalism achieved through local action.

On October 5, 1988, Parks acquired Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary through assignment of city owned land from the Department of General Services. Projecting into Jamaica Bay at a northeasterly angle, the peninsula measures 35.9 acres. The site is bounded by Sommerville Basin on the Eastern side, Grass Hassock Channel on the West, and DeCosta Avenue on the South. In 1991, an additional 2.1 acres between Beach 65th Street and Beach 63rd Street were acquired through the purchase of private land. In 1997, 8.7 acres of shorefront property between Beach 69th Street and Beach 63rd Street were acquired. The additions are part of the New York City Audubon Society’s drive to “Buffer the Bay,” a project that helps preserve over 700 acres along the shores of Jamaica Bay.

Jamaica Bay is an 18,000-acre wetland estuary surrounded by the Rockaway Peninsula in the South, Brooklyn in the West, and Queens in the East. Comprising an area almost equal to that of Manhattan, the bay consists of numerous islands, a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands, and several freshwater ponds. The wetlands provide a unique environment for both wildlife preservation and urban recreation. Enclosed by the Rockaway Peninsula and protected from the Atlantic Ocean, the region currently hosts over 325 species of birds, 50 species of butterflies, and 100 species of finfish. A favorite stop for migratory waterfowl, the area is an integral part of the larger, regional ecosystem. One of New York City’s most extraordinary natural resources, Jamaica Bay remains largely undeveloped.

Dubos Point was a saltwater marsh until 1912, at which point it was filled with dredged materials for real estate development. The project failed to materialize and the site then reverted to a more natural state. Dubos’ renewed meadowlands help filter water pollution and reduce flood flows/erosion. A stop along the Atlantic Flyway, the park sustains many domestic and migratory birds and is well suited for bird observation. The Merlin and Peregrine Falcon, both endangered species, have been seen on Dubos. The beautiful Snowy Egret as well as diverse species of ducks, hawks, and heron inhabit Dubos. The New York City Audubon Society helped Parks to maintain the sanctuary from 1988 to 1999.

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