A saltmarsh is a coastal ecosystem in the upper coastal intertidal zone between land and open saltwater or brackish water that is regularly flooded by the tides. It is dominated by dense stands of salt-tolerant plants such as herbs, grasses, or low shrubs. Saltmarshes have historically been endangered by poorly implemented coastal management practices, with land reclaimed for human uses or polluted by upstream agriculture or other industrial coastal uses.

NYC Parks, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, and National Audubon was working on a project to restore the saltmarsh habitat in Hook Creek Park. This project was carried out in two different phases. The first phase of the restoration consisted of a first-ever pilot project, using equipment to shoot sand from the hard non-marsh surface into the wetlands. The second phase of the project added native plants to the marsh to restore breeding bird habitat in the saltmarsh. This park has been restored to preserve saltmarsh from sea level rise and provide new habitats for breeding birds.

Importantly, the saltmarsh is home to sensitive and endangered species of birds, such as the Seaside Sparrow and Saltmarsh Sparrow that entirely rely on this specific habitat for breeding. The restoration of this saltmarsh at Hook Creek Park offers a multitude of benefits, ranging from supporting diverse ecosystems and enhancing water quality to mitigating climate change impacts and providing suitable habitats for a diverse array of bird species.


Text and photos by Hector Cordero.