A tree in front of clear skies and the river.
A Brighter New York As New York City sees more intense heat waves and frequent storms due to climate change, planting and tending its urban forest will help cool the air. © Diane Cook and Len Jenshel

Stories in New York

Together, We Find a Way: New York Impact 2023

A headshot picture of Bill Ulfelder.
Bill Ulfelder © Jonathan Grassi

From Our Director

Nature Relies on You

The challenges we face in New York, nationwide and globally—flooding, heat, fires and more—are ever-present reminders of the urgency of our conservation and climate work. At the same time, we have been gaining momentum, and making great progress toward developing and implementing solutions.

Looking back on 2023, I’m so proud of how we’ve used science, policy, innovation and partnerships to create lasting, tangible results to ensure that our lands and waters are healthy, thriving and safe places to live, work and play.

We are conserving connected networks of land and water and promoting the well-being of local communities across New York State. Our thoughtful and balanced approach meets the needs of residents and businesses, provides abundant recreational opportunities for millions of people and ensures diverse and thriving populations of wildlife.

We rely on you to be the bedrock of our success. 

With your support, we continue to advance the bold solutions so urgently needed in New York and beyond. We greatly appreciate your generosity and participation as we work to protect the healthy and resilient natural world on which all life depends.

A Message Of Gratitude New York Executive Director Bill Ulfelder along with New York Nature Conservancy colleagues want to THANK YOU for all that we were able to accomplish together in 2023.

Our Impact

In New York and beyond, we work to conserve nature, address climate change and enable equitable conservation. Here is an overview of our impact in 2023.

2023 By the Numbers

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    from New York State funds for groundwater monitoring to assess how phosphorus flows from septic systems into lakes

    More About Our Septic System
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    native species of plants were installed with our partners as part of an effort to restore a 30-acre floodplain in South Sandy Creek in the Lake Ontario region

    Why Healthy Floodplains
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    Brooklyn street trees will be planted as part of our Forest for All NYC initiative, a plan to equitably expand the city’s urban forest

    Hear From Forest For All NYC
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    acres of private land in New York State identified by our team as ripe for reforestation

    More on Reforestation
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    acres conserved in the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Catskills and the Green Mountains, through our Climate Resilience Grant Program

    Hear From Grantees
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    in grants for 14 projects will support partners’ land conservation efforts to conserve the greater Appalachians

    Learn More

Stories From New York

Spotlight on Saltmarsh Sparrows

Saving a Bird to Save Ourselves

Sick Saltmarshes Salt marshes play an important role in filtering water, supporting the coastal food web and absorbing wave energy. © Vanessa Salvucci
A person holding a sparrow.
Saltmarsh Sparrow Without our help, this population of perfectly camouflaged birds may soon disappear. © Sam Apgar

Brimming with bright green grass and cerulean skies, The Nature Conservancy’s Merrill Lake Sanctuary is one of the most striking coastal marshes on eastern Long Island. Nestled in the heart of East Hampton, the preserve offers panoramic vistas of Accabonac Harbor, with a primordial quiet broken only by the calls of ospreys and terns hunting their prey.

Here, where land meets the sea, is an abundance of aquatic life—making the sanctuary an ideal resting, feeding and breeding ground for shorebirds, waterfowl and other wildlife—including the saltmarsh sparrow. This special bird is unique to tidal marshes of the Atlantic Coast, where it lives a surreptitious life, blending perfectly with its surroundings. 

But this small songbird’s existence is under serious threat due to a trifecta of issues: sea level rise, habitat loss and pollution. The population decline of saltmarsh sparrows is indicative of their shrinking habitat, as marshes drown and have little room to shift against developed shorelines.

And there’s also the legacy of marsh alterations: first to optimize conditions for farming in the 1600 - 1800s and then to control mosquitoes in the early 1900s. These alterations in salt marshes across the East Coast, including Merrill Lake altered wetland hydrology and their ability to keep pace with accelerating sea level rise. 

Similarly, chronic nitrogen pollution from septic systems and sewers has changed the way marsh plants grow (above and below ground), which has compromised their ability to resist erosion.

The Nature Conservancy is working to protect our vital marshes by restoring degraded habitats and protecting coastal lands—places to which marshes can migrate as sea levels rise. Saving our marshes means saving ourselves. They filter pollution, prevent erosion and protect shorelines and inland communities from storms, and they provide nursery grounds for important fish and shellfish. 

As for the saltmarsh sparrow, they are not yet listed as an endangered species, but without our help, this population of perfectly camouflaged birds may soon disappear.

More Stories

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    Voice, Choice & Action gathering in Haudenosaunee Territory

    At this gathering, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices urged The Nature Conservancy to commit to 'right relations.' We heard the call and value the opportunity to practice conservation with reciprocity, honoring and valuing Indigenous knowledge Read more about the gathering

  • A top view of people in a kelp tank.

    The Shinnecock Kelp Farmers

    A multi-generational, women-led non-profit, expanded their kelp hatchery and farm in Southampton, NY—the first Indigenous-owned and operated kelp farm on the East Coast—with support from The Nature Conservancy in New York Learn more about this partnership

  • Sun shining through the trunks of trees in the Appalchians.

    The Appalachians

    The Appalachians store 9 billion tons of carbon, provide clean drinking water for 22 million people and generate $25 billion in recreational opportunities for residents and the many cities that sit at the edge of this globally important landscape Explore the area