DEP Launches Pilot Program to Preserve Jamaica Bay

The city's Department of Environmental protection is launching a new pilot program to help preserve the borough’s wetlands. NY1’s Clodagh McGowan filed the following report.

Jamaica Bay is home to numerous marsh islands, but five mini-islands are man made and they serve an important purpose.

They are wave attenuators, acting as the buffer between the water and the wetlands.

"If a boat happens to pass by or there's a wind generated wave, the attenuator breaks the energy of that wave, so therefore the energy hitting the marsh edge is reduced," said John McLaughlin, NYC DEP’s Director of the Office of Ecological Services.

Last month, the agency installed the floating attenuators about 100 feet off Brant Point in Arverne.

"They're designed to handle the 50-year storm. And basically, they rise up and down with the tide, it's kind of like a big rubber band, they can stretch as the tide goes up and down," said McLaughlin.

It's all part of a $500,000 pilot program designed to slow erosion in the vulnerable wetlands around Jamaica Bay. DEP will monitor and study the attenuator's performance with the help of local resiliency groups. 

"[To] help them understand, what are we learning? What is transferable to other parts of the bay, where can we use these solutions or where do we need new solutions," said Adam Parris, the Executive Director of the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay.

The wave attenuators will be in place for the next two years. McLaughlin says if the pilot program proves to be successful the data collected could be used for a future, larger scale sustainability project.

"It's important that we start small, learn and then progress the designs going forward," said McLaughlin.

And McLaughlin says Jamaica Bay is now down to about 1,200 acres of wetlands, less than half of what it was in the 1970s. So, the pilot program is a big step towards preservation for generations to come. ​

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