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PR- 186-12
May 20, 2012


Initiatives Help Meet PlaNYC Goal to Improve Water Quality and Restore Coastal Ecosystems

City - with State and Federal Partners - to Invest nearly $48 Million in Wetlands Projects, Establish a Natural Areas Conservancy

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the release of the New York City Wetlands Strategy, a comprehensive action plan to protect, preserve and restore wetlands throughout the five boroughs. Wetlands are a vital part of New York City's vibrant waterfront that improve water quality, protect shoreline, and beautify the harbor. The Strategy is the first of its kind since Mayor Bloomberg signed a package of local laws requiring the City to plan for a more sustainable future as a part of PlaNYC. Among the 12 initiatives outlined are: investing $48 million in projects that restore and enhance nearly 127 acres of wetlands and neighboring areas; adding 75 acres of wetland to the New York City Parks system; and creating the natural areas conservancy to encourage a public-private partnership for wetlands management.

"Wetlands are vital to improving water quality and protecting New York City's waterfront," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The Wetlands Strategy is a comprehensive plan to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands - a central part of our sustainability and economic development goals."

"DEC and New York City share a common desire to enhance wetlands protection, restoration and management efforts," said State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens. "We have worked together to restore wetlands and marsh islands in Jamaica Bay, and will look for every opportunity to do more. I want to congratulate the Mayor for undertaking the initiative embodied in the Wetland Strategy and look forward to a successful collaboration going forward."

"The protection and preservation of wetlands is a critical component of the City's strategy to improve water quality," said Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland. "The ability of wetlands to clean water is exemplified by our award-winning Bluebelt program which, from Staten Island to Queens, and soon the Bronx, preserves natural environments that retain and drain storm water before it enters our waterways."

"The loss of New York City's historic wetlands has decreased the City's biodiversity and left our shorelines and coastal communities vulnerable to sea level rise and storm events," said NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Today's release of the Wetlands Strategy shows a strong commitment to the conservation and restoration of these vital resources.  These efforts are further supported by our formation of a natural areas conservancy, which will bring private support and scientific oversight to the conservation of New York City's unique waterways, estuaries, and marshes."

"PlaNYC is an inter-disciplinary, inter-agency approach to achieving multiple goals at once - and so is our new wetlands strategy," said David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. "Environmental protection, coastal resilience, and clearer regulations for economic development all come together in this plan."

"Sound waterfront development depends on simultaneously creating new residential areas and an economically-vital, working waterfront, while also preserving biodiversity," said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. "The City's wetlands strategy coupled with EDC's initiatives to develop our waterfront help strike the balance among better access, more jobs and a better environment."

The Wetlands Strategy builds on the PlaNYC goals to improve water quality, increase opportunities for recreation along waterways and waterfronts, and restore natural environments along coastal areas. The initiatives offer ambitious and comprehensive approaches to managing wetland areas that protect and also restore damaged regions. Working with state and federal partners, the City will invest $48 million at 16 sites to restore 127 acres of wetlands and surrounding area. The Departments of Parks and Recreation and Environmental Protection are in the process of leading several restoration projects, including Pugsley Creek and Turtle Cove in the Bronx, Fresh Kills North Park in Staten Island, and Meadow Lake in Queens. The City will also focus on acquiring more wetland areas as part of the Department of Parks and Recreation, expanding on the wetlands it has incorporated and managed over the last 10 years. This includes adding 75 acres of wetland to the New York City Parks system.

The Wetlands Strategy proposes innovative measures to encourage public-private partnerships in the maintenance and care for wetland areas. First, the City will establish a natural wetlands conservancy, the first citywide preservation network in the country and a model for other cities. The conservancy will coordinate public and private partners to raise funding, locate resources and manage wetland projects. Similarly, the City will pursue policies that help streamline how wetlands projects are permitted and funded.

A copy of the Wetlands Strategy is available at:
. The complete list of initiatives includes:

  1. Strengthening protection of vulnerable wetland parcels
  2. Increasing wetlands acquisition effort
  3. Updating the Waterfront Revitalization Program to enhance wetlands protection
  4. Working with state and federal partners to revise wetlands mitigation guidance
  5. Creating a wetlands mitigation banking or in-lieu fee mechanism for public projects
  6. Completing City-funded restoration projects
  7. Creating a natural areas conservancy
  8. Working with state and federal partners to complete and implement the Comprehensive Restoration Plan
  9. Improving wetlands mapping in New York City
  10. Monitoring tidal wetlands and analyzing the potential impact of sea level rise
  11. Assessing the conditions and functions of New York City wetlands
  12. Developing a research agenda to address wetlands challenges


Stu Loeser /Lauren Passalacqua   (212) 788-2958


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