If you want to learn about the history and wildlife of Jamaica Bay, take a boat ride with Dan Mundy of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and Jamaica Bay Guardian Don Riepe and you will have your bases covered.
Jamaica Bay is located between Queens and Brooklyn, connected to Lower New York Bay through the Rockaway Inlet.
Jamaica Bay is home to numerous species of marine life and birds. But pollution and development took its toll on the bay over the years, leading to the erosion of salt marshes that play a key role in providing habitats for various creatures, providing flood protection for residents in communities along the water, and naturally filtering out contaminants from the water.
"Marshes are the lifeblood of this bay, so we're concerned about marsh erosion, marsh loss," said Riepe, the Jamaica Bay program director for the American Littoral Society.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, has been working with organizations like Mundy and Riepe's as part of the effort to help the bay bounce back. One of the major issues that the agency is tackling in all of the city's waterways: combined sewer overflows.
"When there is a heavy rain, the sewer system wasn't designed to capture all of that flow, there can be releases of untreated wastewater," New York City DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. "We want to address that."
Riepe's American Littoral Society has been involved in restoring marshes, like one at Sunset Cove off of Cross Bay Boulevard, not to mention coastal cleanups.
"An easy thing to do is to come out," Riepe said. "and take something off the beach. You've done something, you can actually see the results of your work."
For Mundy, a lifelong resident of Broad Channel, the partnerships on the bay are paying off.
"As far back as I can remember, as a child, when I was six and seven with my rowboat and whatnot, I can never remember the bay…being as clean as it is now," said the president of Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers.
Among the measures that the DEP is taking to keep the bay cleaner is actually right on the Paerdegat Basin: giant storage tanks that store sewage during a big rain storm so it doesn't overflow into the water. And then once the wastewater treatment plant is ready to handle, it'll be sent there for treatment.
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