DEP announces $1.8 million project to restore Alley Creek wetlands in Bayside

Photos courtesy of the Department of Environmental Protection

In honor of Earth Day, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced a major restoration project of wetlands in Bayside.

DEP said that the $1.8 million would go toward restoring approximately 1.9 acres of tidal wetlands at Alley Creek, including critical tidal salt marsh and maritime grassland habitat and the removal of debris and invasive common reed grass.

The restoration effort aims to improve the health of the waterway by reestablishing natural tidal flooding and supporting a diverse and complex salt marsh habitat. Designs for the project include progressively smaller tributary channels which will provide even greater water quality benefits.

“Wetlands play a critical and substantial role in a healthy marine environment as they naturally filter impurities and provide valuable wildlife habitat,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “From Alley Creek to Flushing Bay, to Newtown Creek and Jamaica Bay, and to our more than 70 Bluebelts [natural drainage corridors] across Staten Island, we are creating the conditions that allow wetlands to naturally improve New York City’s environment.”

The city agency reported that they expect work to be completed later in 2019. The Alley Creek wetlands restoration will take place in the area north of Northern Boulevard and will build upon 16 acres of wetland restoration DEP completed on the south side of the boulevard.

“I welcome news of the Alley Creek tidal restoration project, which will go a long way to foster the growth of marine life, improve water quality and reduce area flooding,” said Councilman Paul Vallone. “Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment, and I commend DEP for its work to ensure the environmental stability of northeast Queens.”

Phase one of the restoration work includes excavation of historic fill material including asphalt and concrete and removal of invasive reed grass. DEP will backfill the site with about 2,500 cubic yards of clean sand and carve out tidal channels designed to maximize the area of vital low marsh vegetation.

The agency will then install approximately 27,400 plants as two-inch plugs, including a variety of native wetland species like smooth cordgrass, salt meadow cordgrass, seashore saltgrass, little bluestem and seaside goldenrod. A diverse mix of at least 15 wetland plants will be planted in the upland portions of the site. Additionally, 13 woody shrubs and approximately 500 square yards of original salt marsh vegetation will be replanted.

“As advocates for the environmental health of the estuary, the Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) can only be extremely gratified by the continued support of DEP in effecting the improvements that will ensure cleaner water in Alley Creek and Little Neck Bay, and we look forward to this and additional projects,” said APEC Board Member Tom McGlinchey. “Our estuary here reflects the potential for diversity of environment that provide crucial benefits to plant and marine life in this unique area of New York City, and where so many urban students and adults are able to come to our Environmental Center to learn about ecology and what must be done to protect the area.”

For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, or visit DEP’s Facebook and Twitter.