Press Release: Living Shoreline Project in Queens, New York Receives $749,976 to Restore Coastal Habitat

Save the Sound will receive nearly $750,000 through New York’s Water Quality Improvement Program for the Big Rock Wetland Restoration Project in Queens. It’s part of a recent package from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC), which has awarded approximately $110 million to 86 projects across the state aiming to protect drinking water, combat harmful algal blooms, update aging water infrastructure, and improve aquatic habitat in communities statewide.   

Big Rock site as it currently exists is overrun with invasive Phragmites reed grass and offers little protection from erosion.

Big Rock, the coastal site of our upcoming living shoreline project in the Douglas Manor neighborhood, will undergo an ecological transformation process to restore eroding shoreline with living structures that mitigate and prevent erosion and adapt to rising sea levels. Our team will restore four acres of salt marsh and install “oyster castles” (artificial structures that encourage oyster spat to attach and form reefs) and vegetation along 1,100 linear feet of shoreline. The oyster castles and vegetation will help to filter nutrients from stormwater and stabilize marsh banks in this wetland inlet off of Little Neck Bay known as Udalls Cove. With this support from the NYS DEC, construction of the full project is slated to begin in early 2024. 

Stabilization of the coastline currently relies on hard structures such as sea walls and boulders that are not efficient at absorbing wave energy.

“We are so grateful to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for awarding Save the Sound this grant,” says Katie Friedman, New York ecological restoration program manager at Save the Sound. “Thanks to this funding from the Water Quality Improvement Program, we will be able to complete the restoration of both salt marsh and oyster reef habitat while enhancing the coastal resiliency of the Douglas Manor neighborhood in Little Neck Bay, Queens.” 

This rendering shows the future vision of the site including oyster castles and native vegetation.

Living shorelines are those comprised of native vegetation and ecosystem builders such as oysters and (in other parts of the country) mangroves to perform the same protective function as manmade sea walls and bulkheads – flood prevention and erosion control. However, living shorelines do it better. As nature-based solutions, they adapt to changes in the environment and largely maintain themselves. Oyster reefs, mangroves, and native marsh grasses absorb wave energy rather than reflecting it as sea walls do, resulting in a more resilient coastline and better protected coastal communities. The benefits of a living shoreline are needed at Douglas Manor, as the community’s playing field and a main road are currently eroding into the Sound.   

Save the Sound is working with partners at the Douglas Manor Association, Douglas Manor Environmental Association, Udalls Cove Preservation Committee, Hofstra University, New York City Audubon, Billion Oyster Project, and NYC Parks on this restoration. Additional project funding for construction of the Big Rock Wetland Restoration project has been awarded through the National Coastal Resiliency Fund, Congressionally-Directed Spending advocated for by then-Representative Tom Suozzi and administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Long Island Sound Futures Fund, supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in partnership with the Long Island Sound Study, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  

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