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Director’s Debrief, August 2016: Community Reefs

By Susannah Black
August 2, 2016

160801_BBP carrying

Friends and Supporters,

I am sitting under the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP). One of my favorite places in the city, BBP is designed specifically around the water as a resource of value. Paths lead right to the water’s edge and New Yorkers can walk down and interpret the signs warning them to stay out of the water in more ways than you’d expect. In a city that still in many ways works so hard to keep its residents out of and away from the water, these paths speak to a new way of designing public spaces to encourage access to and appreciation for the Harbor. From the water’s edge, cormorants are visible diving around the base of the Manhattan Bridge, East River ferries zip by and every five minutes or so, and the deafening clang of trains running over the bridge punctuate the otherwise peaceful spot.

I wonder how many of those commuters know that the cormorants are down here feeding directly beneath them. Or that we are hard at work installing our second community reef. Five ten-foot long steel “cabinets” are being walked through waist deep water by BOP staff and volunteers. In three years, these structures will support a vibrant ecosystem and hopefully food for many more cormorants. This fall, look out for opportunities to monitor this site during public volunteer days. We will be working at BBP and Bush Terminal Park throughout the summer and fall and will be in need of extra hands.

And this is just one of many ways that BOP is moving forward this summer.  Though school’s out, BOP staff and student interns are working hard to install nurseries, develop curricula, build reef structures, finalize permits, bring new restaurant partners on board, and design professional development opportunities for teachers.  We’re excited to welcome new partners as well, particularly United Metro Energy, who are supplying all the fuel it takes to run our shell collection van and our fleet of restoration vessels.

Read on for a brief profile of John Cronin, the first Hudson Riverkeeper and hero of the environmental movement of the last forty years, and for the talk he gave at Harbor School’s graduation. Learn along with BOP Fellows as you find out what it really means that oysters are a keystone species.  And get your tickets now in anticipation of the competition and fun of the New York Harbor Regatta and Regatta Bash, on September 16, 2016.

Thank for your continued support.

Pete Malinowski
Director, Billion Oyster Project
New York Harbor Foundation