Saving Jamaica Bay

Egret at Jamaica Bay with Manhattan skyline in backgroundI often think we undervalue the nature spots that are not wildernesses — the ones in and near cities and towns. Not only do these underappreciated places provide precious habitat for wildlife within the built environment, they also give humans respite from the hustle-bustle of modern life.

Jamaica Bay in New York City is one such place. At its heart is a wildlife refuge managed by the National Park Service. I have visited many times to walk the trails, view the birds (some 320 species have been sighted there) and get away from it all. When I can’t leave town, it provides the dose of nature I can’t do without.

So I was disturbed to discover that nitrogen pollution is choking the bay — and relieved to learn that a solution (or the makings of one) may be at hand. Read Saving an Urban Wild Land to learn more about this oasis in the nation’s largest city and what’s being done to protect and restore it. And please add your comments about cherished places like this where you live.


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12 Responses to Saving Jamaica Bay

  1. Elan Carlson July 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Dear Sheryl! Thank you so much for your insightful message. I can’t tell you how great it feels this morning to read the helpful caring of all of you to helping us turn the world around for all our precious life. Thank you, thank you!

    Please enjoy a gentle summer, with all my heart,


    • Sheryl July 26, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

      Elan, it makes my day to get such a lovely message in return. Thank you and best wishes, Sheryl

  2. Publius July 26, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    Please be aware that the “refuge” extends far beyond the trails that have been created for the benefit of people on one island in the bay, and actually includes over 9,000 (nine thousand) acres of water and almost all of the other islands, marshes, and everything else in most of the bay.

    The refuge is itself a constituant part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, itself over 26,000 (twenty-six thousand) acres. That’s more than two times the size of Manhattan Island.

    • Sheryl July 26, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

      Publius, forgive me for liking my own work best ;), but the place to go for information on Gateway and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy website, which my web firm designed and produces content for:

      The Gateway page is here:

      and there are also Jamaica Bay “soundscapes,” ringtones and wallpaper on the site, as well as a couple of podcast episodes with park ranger, Dave Taft, who is fascinating!


  3. Arlene Aughey July 26, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Ae you aware, however, that the USDA, under the aegis of the Atlantic Fyway Council, is currently in the process of slaughtering hundreds of thousands of waterfowl both in the Refuge, and in the surrounding area? They are claiming a variety of reasons, all of which are false, and are devastating many people like myself who are appalled by this. They are shooting, clubbing and gassing geese, ducks, even swans. Under their theory, for example, our area only “needs” 500 mute swans but we have 1,250; therefore, they are in the process of killing 750 right now. Please, please look into this, and try to have it stopped. When did God die, and these people got put in charge?

    • Sheryl July 26, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

      Thanks for mentioning that, Arlene. Yes, I am aware. That is, I am if you are talking about the bird slaughter that is the government’s response to the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson.

      The cause of the crash was determined to be birds getting sucked into the plane’s engines — so the government’s way of preventing a repeat is to reduce the bird population. What I don’t know is if the government considered and rejected alternatives, such as addling the goose eggs.I do know the park service was dealing with the problem a couple of years ago (before the crash) that way.

      Personally, I feel it’s very important to find non-lethal alternatives.

      This is an issue for deer as well, which I wrote about several months ago:


  4. rmpacelady July 26, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    This is my new website, I am in the process of publishing it. I am waiting to get the domain name and all that set up.
    Meanwhile, I am in the process of attending Pace University in the Fall. My ultimate goal is that of an Environmental Lawyer, but, first I need to finish my Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies and Associate’s in Public Administration.
    I want to publish articles, with correct citations, of course, and have my visitors comment. As well as provide links to NRDC as well as other sites.
    BTW: One of these day I will get to Jamaica Bay and enjoy some of nature with an urban flavor. I just moved to NY in May so still not sure of where I am at. Still lost and been sticking around White Plains.

  5. Mitch D. August 26, 2010 at 3:00 am #

    I used to live in New York, and have been to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge many times, thought not for a good while now.

    I am tickled that there are plans afoot to help restore the area.

    Close to 30 years ago, I think it was, I volunteered with the park rangers and helped install an Osprey nesting platform, and a Kestrel box.

    I started my birding in Brooklyn, in 1980 or ’81, and Jamaica Bay was a favorite spot.

    I have a birding friend, here in New Jersey, and have often suggested a visit to Jamaica Bay, this article will get us to go!


    • Sheryl August 31, 2010 at 4:37 am #

      Mitch, please do come back! It’s beautiful — and the osprey are thriving.


  6. Mitch D. September 1, 2010 at 1:24 am #

    Will do.

  7. Mitch D. October 14, 2010 at 2:57 am #

    And I did, two or three weeks ago. I went with my oldest son, and we had a fine afternoon of it. We walked around the west pond and visited the east pond. At the east pond, I was able to count 149 swans while standing in one spot!

    The visitor’s center had been totally redone since i was there last, and is quite beautiful.

    In the words of one famous Californian “I will be back.”

    • Sheryl October 15, 2010 at 2:46 am #

      149? Really?? That’s amazing. I’m glad the visit met expectations..