Jamaica Bay volunteers Volunteers at our Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge © Jonathan Grassi

Stories in New York

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Joining forces for an urban National Wildlife Refuge.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of Gateway National Recreation Area in Queens, is a true urban gem. It’s home to an impressive array of birds—more than 330 species have been sighted—and other wildlife. The Refuge also offers an essential connection to nature for people in New York City. 

The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and sponsored by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC), is working in Jamaica Bay as part of a collaborative project to improve the ecological health of habitats, increase resiliency and enhance visitor experience at the refuge. 

What TNC Is Doing in Partnership with National Park Service

  • Restore native plant communities, including flood and salt-tolerant plants, to create better habitat for migratory birds and improve the site’s ability to recover from future floods.
  • Complete baseline biological monitoring, including surveys of birds, soils, vegetation and insects.
  • Reduce invasive plants.

Why this project matters

“With more frequent flooding, sea level rise and severe storms predicted for New York City, this work has potential applications for the city’s 520 miles of coastline and beyond,” says Emily Nobel Maxwell, Director of the Conservancy’s New York City program. This project will help demonstrate how land management strategies on coastal parklands and natural areas can enhance their resilience to climate change.

What You Can Do

Look for upcoming volunteer opportunities to help us with this important project.

How the Project Has Progressed

In 2016, we organized a six-day volunteer event to plant 10,000 native trees and shrubs, and the National Park Service presented The Nature Conservancy's New York City Program with its Director's Partnership Award, recognizing the Conservancy's restoration work in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. And in 2017, hundreds of volunteers gathered for a re-planting event.

But our job is not done. We will keep working to undo that damage, making the refuge more resilient to future floods and restoring critical wildlife habitat.