Restoration at Bar Beach Lagoon, Long Island, New York
Valuable wetlands in western Long Island Sound, New York were degraded by contamination and were lost to filling, dredging, and "marsh drowning" from sea level rise and coastal-subsidence processes.
Bar Beach Lagoon, a degrading salt marsh located in North Hempstead (of the Hempstead Harbor estuary) was restored in spring 2003. The restoration led by NOAA efforts was a collaboration among many project partners. Debris and fill were cleared, invasive plant species were removed, and marsh and upland species were planted. This restores a portion of the 5-acre tidal cove to successful salt marsh for wildlife habitat and for aesthetic and recreational benefits to the Hempstead Harbor community.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)/Fish and Wildlife Service, the Town of North Hempstead, and Participating Parties Group (PPG) of responsible parties.
The Cooperative Process - Collaboration and Leveraging Resources:
The project began in 1992 as the result of a comprehensive settlement for cleanup and natural resource damages at the Applied Environmental Services/Shore Realty (AES) Superfund site in Glenwood Landing. The site is located adjacent to Motts Cove in Hempstead Harbor. The settlement achieved protection and recovery of trust resources, and compensation for injuries through restoration of degraded cord grass (Spartina) habitat. These injuries to intertidal and salt marsh habitat were caused by discharge of contaminated groundwater and leachate from the AES site into Motts Cove. Ten years later, the site cleanup is progressing and the intertidal area is improving. A Spartina wetland creation/rehabilitation project has been implemented across the harbor from the AES site in the Town of North Hempstead. Recovery of structure and function of this Bar Beach salt marsh will be measured by long-term monitoring. A maintenance plan and success criteria were components of the project to ensure recovery.
The cooperation and leveraging of resources by several government agencies, industry, and local community made this habitat restoration possible. NOAA took the lead, and coordinated multi-agency and stakeholder input. Injuries were addressed and restoration plans were developed and implemented. A successful collaboration among NOS's Office of Response and Restoration/Assessment and Restoration Division (ORR/ARD), NOAA Fisheries' Restoration Center (NMFS RC), and NOAA's Office of General Counsel (GC) formed an effective NOAA team. This team lead the efforts to develop and finalize a publicly approved Environmental Assessment and Restoration Plan. The ongoing communication and cooperation amongst the trustees and stakeholders was key to the selection and implementation of a successful project. The PPG (industry representatives) and the Town of North Hempstead were committed to restoring wetlands and an agreement was reached to restore Spartina habitat at the Bar Beach Town Park site, a priority area for the local community.
The PPG fully funded the design and partially funded the construction, the Town contributed funds and in-kind services, and the trustees contributed in-kind services and settlement monies from the PPG toward the construction activities. NOAA Restoration Center's provided the Town of Hempstead with a Community-based Restoration Program (CRP) grant which partially funded the project. These funds were needed to supplement the budget to complete this particular project. NOAA staff, Lisa Rosman of ORR/ARD and Jim Turek of NMFS RC, served as leads in planning and preparing the final Restoration Plan. They continued working with the PPG and the town to oversee restoration designs generated by consultants and to assist in the field work.
The Partnership Succeeds:
In spring 2003, the local contractor, selected and funded by the trustees and PPG, excavated more than 3,000 cubic yards of rubble, rock, tires, timber debris, and gravel from the 400-foot-long shoreline and prepared the site for plantings. The in-kind services provided by the town's Department of Public Works included use of a loader, access to clean fill, trucking the debris and excavated fill to the municipal landfill, and the waiving of the landfill disposal fees. Volunteers organized by Town of North Hempstead officials planted 2,000 marsh plants as part of community events. Volunteers included local students, town officials and their families, and a rowing team who regularly use the park for launching their scull boats. The volunteers also painstakingly installed stakes and strung line and plastic tape to keep geese and other plant grazers from entering the site. The project site will be monitored for five years to assess marsh plant survival, growth and cover, and marsh faunal community development using AES/Shore Realty waste site settlement funds obtained specifically for monitoring restoration success.
The level of cooperation among government entities and the Participating Parties Group (PPG) of owner/operators was remarkable. The PPG contributed above and beyond their original Superfund agreement. The active participation of the local community during this project provides a noteworthy model for collaboration that succeeds not only in reversing the degradation of valuable habitat but in restoring full beneficial uses to the local coastal community.