Hunter’s Point South Park and Gantry Plaza State Park are designed to promote the ecological well-being of the Long Island City waterfront. These parks play a role in our community beyond being recreational spaces. This guide serves to demonstrate the ecological significance of our parks to our community.
Tidal salt marshes form a grassy fringe near river mouths, bays, and along coastlines protected from the open ocean. Ocean tides fill the marsh with salty water and cause the water level to rise and fall twice a day. The marsh is deeper at high tide and shallower at low tide (National Geographic). Benefits of tidal marshes:
Tidal marsh provides habitat for many species.
Tidal marshes shield land from stormy seas, protecting the coastline from flooding as well as shoreline erosion.
Tidal marsh acts as a filter by absorbing excess nutrients that would lower oxygen levels in surrounding waters causing harm to wildlife in the water.
Native vegetation includes all the plant species that occur naturally in a particular habitat and provide essential habitat for native insects and animals. These plants have evolved together over time to form communities that are well-suited to the particular combination of soil, temperature, nutrients, and rainfall of their region (Leonardo Academy). Benefits of native vegetation:
Native species are less resource intensive, and therefore easier to maintain. They require less water usage and there is no need for synthetic fertilizers.
Native species are naturally resilient because they are adapted to local conditions. These plant species have evolved defenses to many diseases and insect pests.
Native plants provide vital habitats for native birds and other species.
Native plants conserve water and soil by reducing stormwater runoff and preventing soil erosion due to the plants’ extensive root systems.
Native species in the park include: Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), pitch pine (Pinus rigida), willow oak (Quercus phellos), beach plum (Prunus maritima), and shrub rose (Rosa blanca). purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), and crinkled hair grass (Deschampsia flexulosa) (Landscape Performance Series).
Bioswales are landscaping features used to slow, collect, infiltrate, and filter stormwater. Bioswales are designed to manage a specified amount of runoff from a large impervious area, such as a parking lot or roadway (Soil Science Society of America). Benefits of bioswales:
Bioswales reduce flooding as well as standing water that attracts insects such as mosquitoes.
Replacing sewage drains with bioswales creates beautiful and easy to maintain wildlife habitats.
Bioswales provide a natural process of stormwater treatment and transference by filtering and redirecting flooding caused by stormwater runoff. This helps prevent CSOs, a common problem in New York City.
Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO): The discharge from a combined sewer system that is caused by snowmelt or stormwater runoff.
Combined sewer systems are designed to collect stormwater runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater in the same pipe and bring it to the wastewater treatment facility. During rain or melting events, the sewer system’s capacity may be exceeded and all wastewater is discharged into a nearby body of water.
There are a total of seven locations along both Hunter’s Point South Park and Gantry Plaza State Park where the sewage system releases wastewater into the East River, polluting the water.
Green infrastructure, such as bioswales, helps mitigate this CSO issue by collecting and filtering stormwater.
Rip-rap is a permanent, erosion-resistant ground cover of large, loose, angular stone that is often found at waterfront edges. (Massachusetts Clean Water Toolkit). Benefits of rip-rap:
Rip-rap protects coastlines from water erosion by absorbing and deflecting the impact of storm surges and waves.
Rip-rap is simple to install and very easy to maintain.
Rip-rap can improve water quality by preventing the settling of sediment, which helps the water near the shoreline remain clean and clear.