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This past Sunday, Karen and I joined a group of volunteers on a marsh restoration project in Jamaica Bay, organized by the American Littoral Society and other environmental groups. About 85 percent of the wetlands in Jamaica Bay have disappeared, resulting in lost habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife. In addition, wetlands provide natural flood control, which the community of Broad Channel, Queens, could have benefitted from during Hurricane Sandy. For more on the project, click here.

Sunday was cold, windy, and rainy, but we decided to go anyway, knowing we would regret missing the opportunity to be part of the first ever community-led restoration project on national land (Jamaica Bay is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area). To get to Rulers Bar Hassock, where the Spartina marsh grass was waiting to be planted, we had to take a boat from Broad Channel to a float moored just off the island. We then pulled the float as close to Rulers Bar as we could get it and waded through ankle-deep water and mud to the island:

rulers bar-1

Here we are on the island, dressed for foul weather:

rulers bar-3Rulers Bar is eight acres of sand that gets covered twice a day by the high tide. The Spartina plugs get planted two feet apart and a few inches deep. It’s amazing that the tide doesn’t wash them away. The plugs along the fence are still in trays, and plugs planted the day before are arranged across the sand in rows:

rulers bar-4There’s a lot more island to cover:

rulers bar-2

Rulers Bar HassockIf I remember correctly, the plan is to plant 88,000 plugs, with a goal of 85 percent survival to next year. More than 10,300 plugs were planted last weekend.

The proces is quite simple: make holes in the sand, remove plugs from the tray, place one in each hole, cover with sand and pat it down. The tool for making the holes is a dibble. Here Karen gets her dibble on:

rulers bar-6What is the collective noun for a group of volunteers? An army? A horde? A scattering? Anyway, the turnout on Sunday was quite large, especially given the weather:

rulers bar-7There are three more days of planting. To join the fun (and do some good) click any of these links:

May 25th, 11 am – 3 pm

May 26th, 12 pm – 4 pm

June 2nd, 10:30 pm – 2:30 pm

 

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