Reflections: Scenes from Jamaica Bay


Rockaway is surrounded by thousands of acres of parkland, hosting diverse wildlife, important cultural sites, and picturesque natural areas including Jamaica Bay, an urban tidal estuary. As a public-private partnership, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy supports 10,000 acres of this parkland and hosts programming and stewardship events in parks throughout the year, including co-hosting the bi-annual Rockaway! Free Arts Festival. To highlight Jamaica Bay and Rockaway parks and raise awareness about these spaces, the Conservancy is launching a new revolving art installation, Reflections. Reflections, viewable safely at the Conservancy’s storefront window, will host works by local artists throughout the year, reflecting on the natural beauty and cultural importance of our parks.

To kick-off the installation, Don Riepe, Jamaica Bay Guardian and Director of the Northeast Chapter of the American Littoral Society, presents Scenes from Jamaica Bay highlighting wildlife and unique ecology found in this urban tidal estuary. Thirteen original photographs present an important look at wildlife and natural areas found in Jamaica Bay and Rockaway, including osprey, snowy owl, skimmers, painted turtles, humpback whale and more.

Retired from the National Park Service in 2003, Mr. Riepe worked as a naturalist ranger and manager of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and serves on the advisory board of NYC Audubon and is co-chair of the Jamaica Bay Task Force. Mr. Riepe has written many articles on natural history subjects and his photographs have been published in journals including Scientific American, National Wildlife, Audubon, Defenders, Underwater Naturalist, Parade, and The New York Times.

“In my many years exploring Jamaica Bay, I can always find something new to celebrate. Our parks are diverse and unique to New York City. In this urban environment, I’m pleased to offer photographs of wildlife and natural areas found throughout the Bay,” Riepe said.

“We are thrilled to host original photographs by Don Riepe as part of our inaugural installation of Reflections,” Alex Zablocki, Executive Director, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy said. “I hope many will come by our new office and see the pieces in person and reflect on the blessings our parkland offers us in Rockaway and Jamaica Bay.”

An avid birder, Don also has a keen interest in Lepidoptera or butterflies and moths. “Perhaps one of my favorite pieces as part of this installation is a bumblebee on swamp milkweed. This important insect was photographed on an equally important native plant that supports other insects like monarch butterflies,” Don Riepe, a Broad Channel resident explained. “Even the smallest critters should not be overlooked for their beauty and importance in this urban tidal estuary,” Riepe concluded.

To view Reflections through Spring 2021, visit the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks’ office at 11404 Beach Channel Drive in Rockaway Park. The artwork can be viewed through the storefront window seven days a week.

“Don’s photos of the community and wildlife are inspiring. We hope people will visit the storefront to see the exhibit and celebrate by sharing personal images and scenes of Jamaica Bay,” Elizabeth Stoehr, Program Manager, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, said. “To contribute and interact through social media, upload your images and tag the Conservancy @jbrpc on Instagram and Twitter and by using the hashtags #JBRPCReflections and #ScenesofJamaicaBay.”