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New York District Partners with Other Agencies to Restore Jamaica Bay Marsh Islands

The New York District Corps of Engineers is planning to restore degrading marsh islands in Rockaway Inlet in Jamaica Bay, using sand dredged from Rockaway Inlet and stockpiled on Runway 6-24 at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.

The project is scheduled for summer of 2006.

The Corps of Engineers periodically performs maintenance dredging of the Rockaway Inlet in Jamaica Bay to enable patrol vessels, fishing boats and pleasure craft to use the channel.

The marsh islands and surrounding area are part of the Jamaica Bay Unit of the National Park Services, Gateway National Recreation Area. Ninety percent of the marsh islands have been lost since colonial times, due to a variety of causes. The remaining 1,000 acres of islands are disappearing at a rate of 50 acres per year.

In cooperation with the National Park Service, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Port Authority, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York District decided to use sand which was dredged from the Rockaway Inlet to restore two of the marsh islands -- Elders Point island and Yellow Bar island. The New York District's New York Harbor Deepening Program will also contribute several thousand cubic yards of sand.

The area is visited by millions of people each year as a place for recreation. It is also used as a nesting place for migrating birds and nurseries for fish. The marsh islands counterbalance global warming and urban pollution by trapping carbon and chemicals, and buffer homes from storm and wave . Losing the marsh islands would have a recreational and environmental impact.

According to Stephen Couch, Corps project manager, the sand will be used to raise the elevation of the islands to reestablish a low marsh habitat which will in turn restore the island's wildlife habitat.

"The sand is compatible with the composition of the marsh islands," said Joseph Olha, Corps project manager. "This past winter approximately 182,943 cubic yards of sand was dredged from Rockaway Inlet."

Additional details about this project will be provided in a future issue.

About the Author: Dr. JoAnne Castagna is a technical writer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District. For immediate questions concerning this project, please contact the author at Joanne.castagna@usace.army.mil

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