ConSERVE NYC Volunteers Restore Jamaica Bay


Cultures come together to continue the storm recovery process in Queens

This weekend, SCA teamed up with the National Park Service at Gateway National Recreation Area to organize the largest ConSERVE NYC event to date, bringing over 100 volunteers to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on March 1st to continue the storm recovery process.

At the north end of the refuge near the North Channel Bridge Kayak Launch, volunteers took to the beaches to clean up trash and debris, collecting a total of 4500 pounds of litter. Meanwhile, near the Visitor Center, volunteers cleared 1/4 mile of overgrown trail, removed 2000 sq ft of invasive Oriental bittersweet and Japanese honeysuckle vines, and laid the groundwork for a new wheelchair-accessible trail.

SCA participants were joined by members of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, a volunteer organization which works with diverse communities around Jamaica Bay to ensure that religious rituals on the waterfront can be carried out without harming delicate coastal ecosystems. “It is part of the Hindu tradition to respect all living things,” said Sunita Viswanath, a founding board member of Sadhana. “We are so honored to be coming together with other service organizations like SCA to help promote these universal values.”

As this month’s ConSERVE NYC event fell during AmeriCorps Week, SCA was also proud to team up with other AmeriCorps partners working in New York City, including FEMA Corps and Green City Force. “It was fun to tie in AmeriCorps Week with a fellow AmeriCorps program,” said Donald Hawkins, a member of FEMA Corps who volunteered on his own time to take part in Saturday’s project. Local members of SCA’s Hudson Valley AmeriCorps program joined in the event as well, along with SCA alumni who had served as AmeriCorps members in locations as far-flung as Georgia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and California. 

Participants also included student groups from local schools in Queens. Two dozen students from Bryant High School in Astoria traveled down to Jamaica Bay for the event, while St. John’s University sent contingents from Alpha Phi Omega and the St. John’s Earth Club.

After a morning of service work, a Gateway ranger led volunteers on a hike around West Pond, where they witnessed the full extent of the legacy left by Hurricane Sandy. During the storm, a large section of the trail was completely swept away, transforming West Pond into a saltwater lagoon connected to the bay, and permanently altering the ecosystem.

“We want these students to see the challenges here, and hopefully they will want to come back and keep helping in the restoration process,” said Keith White, Volunteer Coordinator at Gateway. “The areas the volunteers covered today look fantastic. The beach and the trails are looking even better than they did before Sandy!”

— Ann Pedtke, SCA Marketing Outreach Coordinator

See more photos from Saturday’s event at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

As part of the ConSERVE NYC initiative, SCA will host public service events each month to engage the conservation community and build resiliency in New York City’s public lands. Register now for the next event on Sunday, March 23rd, on the Brooklyn Greenway.