Intertidal Wetlands Project 2021-04-02T20:26:26+00:00

Project Description

Intertidal Wetlands Project

Project Lead: Research Foundation of CUNY; and Fiorello H. LaGuardia Community College Foundation
Project Partners: LaGuardia Community College; NYC Department of Environmental Protection; NYC Sanitation Department; Newtown Creek Alliance; North Brooklyn Community Boathouse, formerly North Brooklyn Boat Club; Outside New York; City Parks Foundation; Nelson, Pope & Voorhis; Buckeye Partners; and Terrain-NYC
Project Location: Greenpoint shoreline
Total GCEF Funding: $135,528
2014 GCEF Grant: $130,178 2020 GCEF Grant: $5,350
Total Matching Contribution: $91,321
2014 Matching Contribution $91,321
2014 Project Completed: June 2019 2020 Project Completed:

In 2014, through a competitive process, the Research Foundation of the City University of New York (CUNY) at LaGuardia Community College received a $130,178 GCEF grant (and provided $91,321 in matching funds) to assess degraded shorelines along Newtown Creek as potential sites for installing constructed intertidal wetland habitats, otherwise known as a “living shoreline.”

With the assistance of Environmental Science and Engineering students from LaGuardia Community College and trained volunteers from the North Brooklyn Community Boathouse, the project sought to reintroduce elements of native salt marshes to Newtown Creek in the form of suspended grass basins and floating grass rafts. These wetland habitat installations provided living space for intertidal invertebrates, such as ribbed mussels, which improve water quality by removing bacteria and excess dissolved nutrients. The installations also support the creek’s vertebrate life—acting as small fish shelters with crabs and shrimp among the cordgrass roots and supplying food for native birds such as herons and kingfishers.

Major project activities funded by GCEF included: creating conceptual designs for the wetland habitat construction at two potential shoreline sites, in collaboration with the community and professional contractors; advancing one of these sites to a fully-engineered design, including construction drawings, cost estimates, and permits; installing “soft” habitat along the walls of existing hard bulkheads; and expanding habitat already established on bulkhead walls at existing sites.

The success of the project spurred interest in the creation of additional installations along Newtown Creek. In September 2019, core samples were taken from a section of concrete bulkhead along the Queens side of Newtown Creek, confirming the structural integrity of the bulkhead to support the installation of 30 additional wetland habitat installations. Construction of additional floating grass islands in the North Henry Street section of the Newtown Creek is pending.

Additionally, landscape architects working on the nearby Gowanus Canal restoration toured the Newtown Creek Nature Walk to inform their potential use of similar “living shoreline” features at the Canal.

  • Developed a construction design plan for a potential “living shoreline” (aka intertidal wetland habitat) at the North Henry Street site
  • Completed an environmental site assessment and conceptual plan, including an engineering design, for the North Henry Street site
  • Developed a conceptual design plan for a second potential living shoreline site at the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Development Center bulkhead located at the end of Manhattan Avenue
  • Maintained the Whale Creek intertidal basins of salt marsh grasses along the Newtown Creek Nature Walk by removing old growth in the early spring and improving basin drainage
  • Extended the Whale Creek intertidal wetlands, creating a “living shoreline” edge of over 200-feet, along the western side of the Whale Creek bulkhead
  • Developed another 200 feet of wetland habitat for the NYC Department of Sanitation’s Marine Transfer Station bulkhead along the west shore of No Name Inlet
  • Conducted 6 waterside public viewing tours of the Whale Creek and No Name Inlet wetland and demonstration habitats