Site icon HarborLAB

Nov. 5: Canoe for Butterflies and Plants!


Black swallowtail on purple milkweed at HarborLAB. Photo by Erik Baard

Plant and butterfly survey training and optional canoe trip.

Nov. 5: 10AM-230PM.
53-21 Vernon Blvd LIC 11101

FREE. Open to all volunteers willing to teach others. This work is important to our shared goal of a greener, better understood Newtown Creek shoreline ecosystem. HarborLAB needs to develop team leaders so that we can document the creek and then remote islands of the harbor.

RSVP by Friday, Nov. 4 at 5PM to NCA:

Updated Details:

There are pollutants assaulting the Newtown Creek’s ecosystem from silt to sky, but we must never forget that this is still a living place. HarborLAB will assist Hudsonia and the Newtown Creek Alliance in a new project to survey and photo-document the plants and butterflies surrounding the creek and upload that data to iNaturalist.

This is fun and meaningful stuff, and a great opportunity for bio nerds and shutterbugs alike!

HarborLAB urgently requested that the EPA to sample plant tissue as part of its environmental study of the creek, and we were quickly supported by NCA and Riverkeeper. We plant native species and distribute seedballs throughout the creek area. Our GreenLaunch home base is rich with native grasses, bushes, trees, and wildflowers like milkweed that we’ve planted and tended to restore habitat. This Hudsonia/NCA project perfectly harmonizes with our work.

Please download the iNaturalist app. We strongly recommend that you bring an external battery to keep your phone charged or to recharge after the event.  

Schedule subject to modification by Lisa Bloodgood of NCA.

10AM-1145AM: Gather at HarborLAB (53-21 Vernon Blvd, LIC, NY 11101). Training and surveying done on site. Signed waivers required.
1145AM-1215PM: Lunch.
1215-2PM: Field work! Survey the area by foot and canoe! Put that training into practice to reinforce your learning.
230PM: All boats and gear stowed away.

Notes on canoeing: Preceded by a safety talk, orientation, gear preparation. Please be very cautious when using the dock, ladder, and stairs. We’re unable to properly install our larger dock and access because of squatting sailboat owners. Course will be directed by Lisa Bloodgood of NCA within the bounds of Second Street and Dutch Kills on the Queens side. All boats stay close together and near shore to avoid larger vessel traffic. Diana Szatkowski leads.

General notes: Please forgive the chaos of our sheds. Our organization day is Nov. 18. 

Full explanation by Lisa Bloodgood of Newtown Creek Alliance:


Hello Budding Botanists and new Project Leaders!

Welcome to NCA’s newest project with our partners at Hudsonia, the Plant, and Butterfly survey of Newtown Creek! Each of you either expressed an interest in being a leader or being involved in the project in some way. This email will provide you with your first introduction to the project and instructions for getting started with us this season.

Project overview: With our partners at Hudsonia and all of you we will spend the coming year identifying, collecting, and documenting all of the many plants within 100 meters of the Creek. We will create a field guide for the public and have a greater understanding of the diversity of plant species and their distribution along our beloved and beleaguered waterway.

At the training we will show you how to use iNaturalist, the app we will be using throughout the duration of the project. I strongly recommend downloading the app to your phones now and trying it out on a walk over the next few days. We have created a project titled “Newtown Creek” where the teams you will lead, will track and record observations of plants, butterflies and any other critter you happen upon. This is crucial to the project and will be the main data collection technology we will use. It is super cool and lends to a greater pool of biodiversity information.

We will show you some of the most common plants you will find along the Creek, how to take a good photo, how to use a dichotomous key for identification, how to collect and press plants for a herbarium, and probably a few other things. We will go over safety protocols, get you ready to manage your volunteer teams, and get you ready to work by water as well – we will be working with both HarborLAB and the North Brooklyn Boat Club for our water-bound assessment work. I am attaching an overview map of the creek – we will provide you with a more detailed map at the training – and here is a link to the Biodiversity Assessment Handbook for New York City put together by Erik Kiviat of Hudsonia and Elizabeth Johnson. You are encouraged to make yourself as familiar with all of these resources as your time allows for before we meet. If you just show up ready to learn on Saturday that’s just fine too, we’re preparing other resources for you.

Next steps: Let’s all see how we do with the training, and how favorable the weather will be into November before we make too many plans for the end of fall. We want to tackle some of the accessible land access sites to get us all comfortable with the work and knock out as much as we can in English Kills by water before we lose all our foliage to the winter. English Kills is far more pleasant in this weather than in summer.

All of us at Newtown Creek Alliance and Hudsonia are so very excited for this project and to be working with you all! Please don’t hesitate to ask me any question now or in the future and if you aren’t sure if you can commit to the entirety of this project, come and try it out, we can play it by ear going forward. We know you have something great to contribute!! You can text or call me anytime (within reason of course).

Please RSVP for this coming weekends training we need to know who is coming and who can’t make it! If you know anyone else that might be interested in working on this project please share this email!

See you soon and thank you for supporting NCA and the work we do – we couldn’t do it without you!!!

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