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NYC Parks awarded federal grant preparing underserved students to assist the Jamaica Bay marshland renewal effort

May. 3, 2023 By Bill Parry

NYC Parks announced Tuesday, May 2, it has been awarded a $629,000 federal grant to establish a paid internship and training program that will help economically disadvantaged and minority high school and college students participate in coastal habitat restoration along Jamaica Bay.

The project was selected through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is among 35 new projects to bolster coastal renewal efforts in underserved communities nationwide. Funds will also be used to launch free community programming, including volunteer opportunities and environmental education.

“We are thrilled that NOAA is funding this important program that will increase opportunities for young students to be trained and engage in critical wetland protection and restoration work,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “We are grateful to NOAA for this grant, which will increase equity by offering paid training for students from underserved communities while creating vital programming to educate the community on environmental issues. This funding will help ensure that Jamaica Bay, one of our city’s richest ecological areas, is protected for years to come.”

(Photo by Mark Hallum)

With the grant, Parks will work to implement habitat restoration projects along Jamaica Bay’s 18,000-acre wetland estuary, the largest remaining extent of marshland in New York City. It includes 10,000 acres of parkland jointly managed by the National Parks Service and NYC Parks.

Consisting of numerous islands, a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands, and two freshwater ponds, the wetlands provide a unique environment for both wildlife preservation and urban recreation, Jamaica Bay is home to 325 species of birds, 50 species of butterflies, and 100 species of finfish.

(Photo by Mark Hallum)

Environmentalists have been thrilled with the return of other marine wildlife to the waters of Jamaica Bay including humpback whales, seals, and dolphins which had been missing for decades.

“We are thrilled that NOAA is funding this important program that will increase opportunities for young students to be trained and engage in critical wetland protection and restoration work,” NYC Parks Assistant Commissioner of Natural Resources & Planning Marit Larson said. “This multi-year program will also help us reach out to more community members about how to enjoy and support the ecological benefits of their coastal parks as well as participate in resiliency planning.”

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