The Living Shoreline: An Environmental Educational Center

One of the five sites being studied for its potential in oyster reef restoration is a neglected wetlands area behind City Island’s local school, P.S. 175, that belongs to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. For the past two years, CIOR has been engaged in removing debris and invasive, non-native plants and encouraging the growth of native vegetation, with the support of the Parks Department and volunteers from the City Island community. One of the important goals of this project is to educate the community in the importance of shoreline protection, and CIOR is working with the science teachers and the Billion Oyster Project to provide educational opportunities for students at the school. With the support of a grant from the Long Island Sound Stewardship Fund, CIOR engaged Filomena Riganti, a landscape architect, to prepare a design for this area, including the installation of pilot oyster reefs, the creation of walking paths, the establishment of an outdoor science learning center, and to obtain appropriate permits from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Living Shoreline was surveyed for existing topography and site features which provide information for the permit process.

The park will feature natural walkways planted with indigenous marshland vegetation, and visitors will have access to the shoreline,  where oyster cage monitoring stations will be accessible for study and where oyster reefs will be located further out in the water.

The plan is to make the space accessible to the general public as well as to students and to provide a hands-on educational experience demonstrating the importance of coastal wetlands and marine ecology. The creation of a space for students and residents of New York City to learn about this important ecosystem is an important part of protecting and ensuring marine environments into the future.