Spring Cleaning in Rockaway and Jamaica Bay Parks

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Spring is finally here, and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy began the season with a great volunteer event filled with community and partnership!  Working with NYC Parks and the local community, the Conservancy was thrilled to begin our spring stewardship season with local residents, community groups, and NYC Parks for a volunteer cleanup and native plant restoration project on Saturday, March 27.

The project provided some much-needed TLC to parkland adjacent to the boardwalk and the Beach 30th Street Playground between Beach 26th Street and Marvin Street in Far Rockaway. Forty volunteers removed upwards of 500 pounds of trash and planted 400 native coastal perennials and shrubs, along with 6,000 native beach grasses. Volunteers planted native shrub species such as Beach plumb (Prunus maritima), Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), Rosa carolina (Carolina rose), and Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) as well as American beachgrass (Ammophila brevigulata) in the dune adjacent to the boardwalk.

Collective stewardship efforts like these show the important role everyone can play in making even small park spaces meaningful and vibrant. This latest stewardship project builds off of work the Conservancy led at the park with NYC Parks in spring 2020 when 10,000 additional beach grasses were planted, along with 300 native shrubs and perennials. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, we were unable to engage volunteers at that time. Many thanks to Borough President Donovan Richards for supporting this special project and to the volunteers and parks staff that made it a reality. In the coming months, the Conservancy looks forward to watching the landscape come to life, providing four seasons of flowering plants, and will continue to work with the community and NYC Parks in caring for the area through volunteer stewardship.

Throughout the year, the Conservancy works with NYC Parks to bring resources and stewardship efforts to parks across the Rockaway peninsula and Jamaica Bay. For this latest project, the Conservancy combined resources working with Rockaway Parks Administrator Eric Peterson to source native plants from citywide nurseries, including the Greenbelt Native Plant Center, and beach grasses were sourced from Jamaica Bay at a nursery at Floyd Bennett Field. By using native plants in restoration projects, the plants are more likely to thrive and will attract an array of pollinators and wildlife such as birds, bees, and butterflies to the landscape. The areas restored this past weekend are fenced in to protect the plantings from foot traffic as they settle in the landscape and grow throughout the season.

This project is one of many restoration projects the Conservancy has planned this spring and we hope you will join us! Cleanups are scheduled in April and May with the Surfrider Foundation – NYC Chapter at Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary and Rockaway Community Park respectively, and a restoration project will take place at Jamaica Bay Park with the Natural Areas Conservancy in April.

Parks across the city experienced record visitation and impact in 2020 and this continues through 2021. Increased visitation and stretched resources provide an opportunity to work together to care for our parks. We are fortunate to be amongst such an active community and many other organizations that are committed to park stewardship. Learn more about upcoming events at www.jbrpc.org/shorelinecleanups. Happy spring and we look forward to seeing you in our parks!

 By Shanna Blanchard

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