New York City creates about 12,000 tons of garbage daily, a portion of which ends up in the water. If it floats, the garbage drifts down the rivers and out to sea, where the Gulf Stream swirls it around like a perpetual toilet flush. But a lot of the garbage is sucked back into New York Harbor. Periodically, a big tide or winter storm vaults the floaters over a dune, where their journey ends. Rocky Point is just such a garbage trap.
Not very long ago, Rocky Point was a place where herons bobbed for killifish and fiddler crabs scuttled through the cordgrass. Where muskrats erected waterfront subdivisions and hundreds of shorebirds made their migratory pit stops, all set against the panorama of Manhattan, Coney Island, and Jamaica Bay. It’s the only tidal wetland in the Breezy Point District of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Breezy is best-known for its pristine (by New York standards) beaches and the endangered piping plover, to which the Park devotes most of its resources and personnel. Because neither humans nor plovers frequent Rocky Point, the site has been neglected. But it is still very much alive. At least twenty species of native plants are present. There’s no oil or chemical pollution. The garbage is mostly the bigger sort, like boards and polystyrene. And once the wetland is cleaned, it will be easy to keep it clean. This November, Tony Luscombe and I started the process of reviving Rocky Point marsh. This blog will be a diary of our progress.