Intertidal Wetland Project 2021-10-05T17:26:45+00:00

Project Description

Intertidal Wetland 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: September 2021

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 expand an approach to estuary ecosystem renewal that exploits bulkheads and seawalls as foundations for intertidal habitat and to develop a viable construction design to replace the bulkhead and rip-rap of an industrialized shoreline with intertidal wetland habitat.

Major project activities funded by GCEF included: (1) creating conceptual designs for the intertidal  wetland habitat construction at two potential shoreline sites, in collaboration with the community and professional contractors; (2) advancing one of these sites to a fully-engineered design, including construction drawings, cost estimates, and permits; (3) installing intertidal wetland habitat along the walls of existing hard bulkheads; and (4) expanding habitat already established on bulkhead walls at existing sites.

A construction design plan for a potential “living shoreline” (aka intertidal wetland habitat) at a section of Newtown Creek adjacent to North Henry Street was developed, including the completion of an environmental site assessment, a conceptual plan, and an engineering design. A concept design for establishing a living shoreline at the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Development Center bulkhead, located at the end of Manhattan Avenue was also created.

With the assistance of Environmental Science and Engineering students from LaGuardia Community College and trained volunteers from the North Brooklyn Community Boathouse, the project also 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 provide 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 shelters for small fish, crabs, and shrimp among the grass roots, and supplying food for native birds such as herons and kingfishers.

The success of the project’s intertidal wetland habitat installations demonstrated the viability of reintroducing salt marsh grasses along an industrialized shoreline, and is encouraging related efforts. In 2021, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation committed to providing over $1 million in funding to construct intertidal wetland habitat in an inlet of Newtown Creek inlet adjacent to North Henry Street. Additionally, landscape architects working on the nearby Gowanus Canal restoration toured the Newtown Creek’s intertidal wetland habitat installations to inform their potential use of similar living shoreline features at the Canal.

In 2020, the Fiorello H. La Guardia Community College Foundation received a $5,350 GCEF grant to introduce herbaceous plants to raft planter boxes in order to provide food for pollinator wildlife, including multiple bee species, beetles, butterflies, birds, and bats. The raft planter boxes were already in place within the North Henry Street inlet. The grant money supported the purchase of plants, soil, student stipends, and necessary supplies.

  • 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 wetland, 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
  • Introduced herbaceous plants to raft planter boxes located in the North Henry Street inlet, providing food for pollinator wildlife