Weekly Update: One Shoreline at a Time

Save the Sound staff and members of the Douglas Manor Environmental Association visit Big Rock, the site of our current living shoreline project in Queens, New York. Pictured here (left to right) are Save the Sound’s Megan Lung, Louise Harrison, Katie Friedman, and Paul Woodworth; Kevin Wolfe of DMEA; Josh Garskof of Save the Sound; and Jamie Sutherland of DMEA. 

Going Back to Nature, One Shoreline at a Time 

Katie Friedman, our New York ecological restoration program manager, is working on a living shoreline project in the Douglas Manor neighborhood of Queens. The project, known as Big Rock, is gearing up to start construction in 2024 and will restore four acres of salt marsh for erosion control and habitat restoration. 

We asked Katie to explain the concept and benefits of a living shoreline and how we can support these efforts. 

“In an urban area where we want to stabilize the coast or protect infrastructure from high wave energy or erosion, we typically build hard structures out of unnatural materials—think concrete seawalls and bulkheads,” says Katie. “Living shorelines, in contrast, use nature-based features which may include plantings of native shrubs, oyster reef habitats, and bundles of wood, things which can adapt to changes over time. Wetland marshes and oyster reefs grow horizontally and vertically, adapting to sea level rise while absorbing wave energy, whereas a hardened shoreline will redistribute wave energy, contributing to erosion in neighboring coastal areas.” 

In addition to protection from erosion and sea level rise, living shorelines offer many co-benefits. 

“Marshes and oyster reefs provide habitat for local wildlife, help improve water quality and clarity, and vegetation components pull carbon from the atmosphere and ocean as they photosynthesize,” says Katie. “These shorelines also serve as recreational spaces and living classrooms for our communities.” 

These benefits are in dire need at Douglas Manor. 

“Douglas Manor has been experiencing coastal erosion for many years,” says Katie. “A large portion of their coastline was once marsh, which has been filled in over time. Now, a playing field and a major roadway are being eroded. To combat this, we are installing oyster castles, which are essentially eco-friendly, concrete Lego blocks that will undercut wave energy and provide oyster habitat. We are restoring four acres of salt marsh to improve the aquatic habitat as well as protect the shoreline from further erosion.”  

Big Rock restoration has been a collaborative project from the beginning. As living shorelines are a relatively new technique in the region, with only a handful of projects having been completed in New York City, it is important to work with the community to raise public awareness and support. 

You can be a part of the expansion of living shorelines in New York. 

“There is a bill that Save the Sound is working on with New York State Senator Shelley Mayer to strengthen the NY state Department of Environmental Conservation’s ability to prioritize living shorelines over hardened shorelines when approving project permits,” explains Katie. “This is an opportunity for NY state residents to advocate for their assembly person to pass this bill. Your voice can help living shorelines become the preferred alternative for shoreline protection.” 

We invite you to follow the progress of the restoration at Big Rock in future emails and ensure more living shorelines around the region by taking action on bill S5186. Reach out to your New York state senator and assemblymember to express your support! 

Watch: Climate action heats up in CT legislature 

Thanks to our work together, critical climate action bills have passed out of CT’s Environment Committee and are beginning to move through the next steps of the legislative process. The CT Coalition for Climate Action—with State Representative Christine Palm and experts from Save the Sound, Connecticut Chapter Sierra Club, and Connecticut League of Conservation Voters—hosted a mid-session briefing recently that included an overview of CT’s climate commitments and our recommendations for a stronger Global Warming Solutions Act, a look at specific climate-related bills moving through the CT state legislature now, and tips on how you can take action. Watch to learn more: https://youtu.be/Y1GRjfwShIc  

CT state representative Christine Palm speaks in the CT Coalition for Climate Action webinar

New UWS season, old-school training session 

For the first time since 2019, training for the Unified Water Study did not require our partner groups to log into Zoom. Instead, last Thursday was all about good old face time, as our water quality team kicked off preparations for the 2023 season in person.  

Six UWS groups—Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor, New England Science and Sailing Foundation, Salonga Wetland Advocates Network, SUNY Maritime, Town of Darien, and our newest addition, Project Oceanology—spent the day at our Larchmont office reviewing sampling procedures, chlorophyll filtering, macrophyte sampling, and learning how to use the new ProDSS multiparameter sonde (smaller and lighter than the water quality meter they’d used in the past). 

“The groups also took the time to introduce themselves to each other and network, which was really great to see,” said Ameera Khan, our environmental analyst, who led the training session along with laboratory manager Elena Colón and director of water quality Peter Linderoth. 

Five more one-day training sessions will be held over the next two weeks. 

Training sessions for the 2023 Unified Water Study season were held in our Larchmont office last Thursday. 

Action Opportunity: Tweed Airport expansion comments due May 1 

A public hearing earlier this month on the Environmental Assessment (EA) of Tweed New Haven Airport’s proposed expansion drew a crowd. Like the East Haven mayor, local legislators, and many of the airport’s neighbors, we’re urging the Federal Aviation Administration to prepare a more detailed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the serious effects of an airport expansion. The current EA fails to account for a number of environmental concerns that must be considered to protect the well-being of wetlands, wildlife, and Long Island Sound itself, as well as neighbors in state-designated environmental justice communities, who are impacted by flooding, traffic, emissions, and noise pollution from the airport. In fact, we believe the National Environmental Policy Act requires an EIS for projects like this with significant environmental impact. Submit your own comments to the FAA by May 1 at hvn-ea@mjinc.com

Support a healthy Long Island Sound as a Green Guardian! 

Green Guardians provide sustaining monthly support, securing Save the Sound’s ability to fight for healthy water and sustainable Sound communities. Set up an automatic monthly payment and the small addition to your household budget will both support Save the Sound’s strategic projects and bolster our ability to respond to emergencies like sewage spills and at-risk habitats. As a Green Guardian, know that you’re fighting for a thriving Long Island Sound—all year long. For more information, click here or contact executive vice president of philanthropy Alicia Sullivan at asullivan@savethesound.org or 203-787-0646 x109. 

Quick Links 

Upcoming Events 

  • TONIGHT: Reimagine the Cross Bronx Expressway – Monday, Apr. 10 at 6:00 p.m. – virtual open house. Help New York City develop a community-driven vision that could add 30 acres of park to the Bronx and reconnect neighborhoods currently separated by highway. Details
  • Arts & Climate Open Mic Night – Friday, Apr. 14 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Semilla Cafe & Studio in Hartford. Join Save the Sound, scholar-activist Kat Morris, and other members of the CT Coalition for Climate Action for conversation, food and drink, and an open mic to share music, poetry, and inspiration for the climate work ahead! Space is limited, so please register
  • Branford Earth Day Fair – Saturday, Apr. 15 at 10:30 a.m. on the Branford Green, CT. Earth-friendly ideas and inspiration, activities for kids, and exhibits by local sustainability orgs including Save the Sound! Learn more
  • Public talk “Envision Plum Island Preserved: The Natural and Human History of Plum Island” – Tuesday, Apr. 18 at 1:30 p.m. at The Custom House Maritime Museum in New London, CT. Louise Harrison, Save the Sound’s NY natural areas manager, will give an update on Plum Island preservation efforts. Click for details.
  • 2023 CT Youth Advocacy Day – Friday, Apr. 21 at 8:30 a.m. at the Connecticut State Capitol. Save the Sound and partners invite you to a day of youth empowerment and advocacy! Details
  • Celebrate Earth Day with Save the Sound – Saturday, Apr. 22 – festivals in in Larchmont and Mount Vernon, NY and Hamden and Milford, CT, and a cleanup in Bridgeport, CT. Stop by our tables and say hi! Click here for locations and times for each event.
  • Essex Boat Show – Apr. 28-30 on Safe Harbor Essex Island, CT. Hear a talk from Soundkeeper Bill Lucey on Saturday, visit our table, and enjoy live music. Schedule and details.
  • Long Island Natural History Conference – Friday, Apr. 28 in Islip, NY. Hear an update from Long Island natural areas manager Louise Harrison at this annual conference hosted by Seatuck. Register.
  • Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride – Saturday, Apr. 29 in New Haven. Cycle or hike with us, or simply support the Save the Sound team and our friends at CPEN-Community Placemaking Engagement Network. Thanks to a generous donor, all funds will be matched until $2,500 is reached! Learn more

Find details on these, and all our events, on our Stay Engaged page.

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