June 1 Jamaica Bay Marsh Restoration!


(Aerial photo of planting site by Public Lab and Louisiana-based Dredge Research Collaborative. Expand to see rows of seedlings)


American Littoral Society, Google, Citizens Committee for NYC, and HarborLAB celebrate a great day of planting spartina to restore Jamaica Bay. Great job, HarborLAB Operations Manager EJ Lee and many thanks to our partners!

On Sunday, June 1, HarborLAB brought Citizens Committee for NYC and Google to paddle and help the American Littoral Society and Jamaica Bay EcoWatchers plant spartina marsh grass, a building block of our estuary ecosystem. We were thrilled to work beside Audubon volunteers and others, and to learn more about restoring vital saltwater marsh habitat. Many thanks to American Littoral Society Northeast President Don Riepe, who organized the full event, and Lori Lichtman, Development and Volunteer Coordinator for Citizens Committee for NYC!

Over the past century our region’s saltwater marsh grass areas have been reduced by 85% due to development, pollution, and other urban pressures. HarborLAB started “Cordgrass in the Classroom” to help students understand this problem and participate in its solution. Now we are combining planting and paddling into event days that augment the efforts of those leading the challenging work of restoration. The Google gaggle took turns planting thousands of seedlings and kayaking around areas where they could see mature plants supporting shorebirds, invertebrates, and marine life. It was fun to introduce Google employees and interns to this work, and to deepen our relationship with Citizens Committee for NYC. Thanks in great part to Citizens Committee for NYC, we will soon plant spartina and other native species at our launch site on the Newtown Creek!

This event was an achievement for HarborLAB because despite being a small and young organization, we produced two simultaneous programs on June 1, this marsh grass restoration and nature paddles by canoe on Willow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. HarborLAB Operations Manager EJ Lee was our on-site leader at Jamaica Bay and Executive Director Erik Baard made the arrangements for both events while leading on-site at Willow Lake.

All photos in the gallery are by American Littoral Society and Citizens Committee for NYC.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge!

Glossy ibis flock in Jamaica Bay. Photo by Don Riepe, American Littoral Society.

Glossy ibis flock in Jamaica Bay. Photo by Don Riepe, American Littoral Society.


This is a wonderful chance to share a day of fun and learning with Hour Children, a nonprofit dedicated to help families get on a positive, healthy, and productive track after a mother’s incarceration. Many of the kids were born in prison, or are being mentored while their mothers are incarcerated. Hour Children also provide neighborhood services, like summer and after school programs, a food pantry, educational aid, job search and training, and thrift shops. Hour Children’s LIC neighborhood includes three large NYCHA residences.

Here are photos from the last time our volunteers took the kids paddling.

Here’s our Facebook event page for this outing.

8AM: We’ll meet outside My Mother’s House, Hour Children’s supportive housing program (3630 12th St, Long Island City, NY).

830AM: Drive to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

930AM: Arrive at the Mill Basin Launch:



Paddle to explore the bay with mature teens and enjoy walk-up paddles for the younger kids.

1PM: Lunch.

130PM: Go to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (http://www.nyharborparks.org/visit/flbe.html). Jamaica Bay is Grand Central for birds migrating through our city, and home to diamondback terrapin turtles, horseshoe crabs, all manner of fish, and more! You’ll be giving the kids a great experience and maybe scoring some amazing nature photos to boot! Banner photo by Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society.

Thanks to a new sponsor we expect to soon announce, and with whom we plan to visit Jamaica Bay, we purchased a boat trailer to get our fleet to the site! We’re also grateful to Jersey Paddler for the considerable discount it is offering on our trailer.

For Orchard Beach Lagoon fans, no worries — we’ll go there soon too!

Jamaica Bay. Photo by Don Riepe, American Littoral Society.

Jamaica Bay. Photo by Don Riepe, American Littoral Society.