It was ten years ago that scientists began to take note of Jamaica Bay’s rapidly deteriorating marshes, and earlier this year that Congressman Anthony Weiner proclaimed a four point plan to target the culprit: nitrogen. While small projects have come and gone to shore up the city’s most important ecological treasure, which includes Plumb Beach and Gateway National Park, they proved to be akin to putting a band-aid on a late stage Ebola victim. Well, Ebola-infected Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, get ready for your cast!
The United States Army Corps of Engineers announced last week that it will partner with several agencies to help restore the dying salt marshes. The marshes starting shrinking by more than 44 acres a year, according to a study done in 2001. At the time, scientists predicted it would be gone in 20 years, and with it the fish, shellfish, birds, and plants that make the most unique and important ecosystem in the northeastern coastline. The marshes help improve water quality by removing nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphates. That is, unless it overdoses on those ingredients
And it has. More than 250 million gallons of “treated” shit, piss, and children’s dead goldfish pour into Jamaica Bay each day from four wastewater treatment facilities. The nitrogen buildup proved to be too much for the marshes, and like a heroin addict with too much smack, they’re withering away.
That’s why in November the Corps of Engineers (Earth), Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Fire), the U.S. National Park Service (Wind), the State of New York Department of Environmental Conservation (Water), and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (Heart) have combined their powers to dump 200,000 cubic yards of clean sand (Captain Planet) into our Bay. The project aims to restore about 35 acres of low and high marsh habitat in Jamaica Bay, at a cost of $11.5 million.
This is a good thing, right? We think so, but we still can’t shake the idea that this is just a larger, more expensive band-aid on that heroin-addicted Ebola victim. Afterall, if the marshes are declining by 44 acres each year, how the hell will 35 acres and $11.5 million change the situation?