NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP today joined Bronx River Administrator and Bronx River Alliance Executive Director Linda R. Cox, FAICP, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Congressman José E. Serrano, NY State Senator Gustavo Rivera Representative Miquel Rondon, Community Board 6 District Manager Ivine Galarza, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Bronx River Partnership Coordinator James Turek and Wildlife Conservation Society Executive Vice President for Public Affairs John F. Calvelli to officially cut the ribbon on the new River Park Fish Passage, located on the Bronx River at Boston Road and East 180th Street in The Bronx.
This fish passage will allow two species collectively known as river herring -- alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) -- to swim over the East 182nd Street Dam to 12 acres of spawning and rearing habitat. The project was completed in December 2014 and this spring will mark the first time that river herring will have the opportunity to spawn north of the dam since the 1600s. For more than four centuries, dams built for industry or agriculture have blocked the migration of fish along the Bronx River. This spring, NYC Parks Natural Resources Group (NRG) and the Bronx River Alliance will monitor the River Park Fish Passage through the use of an underwater video camera and fish counter.
The River Park Fish Passage will help to establish a sustainable river herring population on the Bronx River, attract and provide more food for native wildlife, contribute to regional efforts to protect river herring by expanding access to habitat, maximize the ecological health and value of the Bronx River, and is a key component of on-going efforts to improve the river and restore NYC’s coastal ecosystem.
"Thanks to the hard work of NYC Parks' Natural Resources Group and the Bronx River Alliance's dedicated team of scientists, fish will be able to reach an ideal habitat that was once off limits to spawn a next generation – a great sign of the resiliency of the Bronx River,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Citywide we are opening up more of our waterfront to the public and restoring our ecosystems and natural habitats. We are very grateful to Congressman Serrano, Borough President Diaz and all our partners for their unwavering support of this project which was a decade in the making.”
“Despite living in a huge metropolis like New York City, restoring our ecological resources is as important in The Bronx as it is anywhere else around the country,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I want to thank the Bronx River Alliance and New York City Parks' Natural Resources Group for their commitment to repopulate the Bronx River with river herring and blueback herring, which can only help our ecosystem in the borough rebound.”
“I would like to commend the NYC Parks Department and Bronx River Alliance for restoring a natural habitat to a native Bronx species. Today’s ribbon cutting demonstrates that technology and planning can successfully foster biodiversity in the Bronx River - inhibited hundreds of years ago due to industrial development,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “We look forward to seeing the results of this fish passage in creating new ecosystems in the Bronx.”
“The ongoing restoration of the Bronx River is a source of great pride for WCS and is an important part of the natural beauty of the Bronx Zoo,” Said John F. Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs: These fish passages are vital to maintaining the long-term health of the ecosystem. This project would have never gotten off the ground without the critical, unwavering support for this project from Congressman José E. Serrano, and the partnership between WCS, NOAA, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Bronx River Alliance will ensure the Bronx River is a resource that can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
River herring live most of their lives in the Atlantic Ocean and return to freshwater streams to spawn every spring. They swim in large schools, are forage fish, and are a critical source of food to many predators in the river (great blue heron and osprey) and in the ocean (bottlenose dolphin, striped bass and tuna).
This $1.87 million project was made possible in part thanks to major funding and support from Congressman José E. Serrano through the Wildlife Conservation Society's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Lower Bronx River Partnership, Borough President Ruben Diaz, the Environmental Protection Agency, the New York State Department's Environmental Protection Fund, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This passage is part of a decade-long effort by NYC Parks Natural Resources Group and the Bronx River Alliance to restore river herring habitat and ecosystems. NYC Parks also worked extensively with expert advisors from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Inland Fisheries Division, with additional support from the U.S. Geological Survey U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and NOAA.
An improved canoe portage was incorporated into the construction of the passage to facilitate boating on the Bronx River Blueway which is a National Water Trail open to recreational kayakers and canoeists. This fish passage provides a unique opportunity for the local community to experience nature at work in their urban backyards by visiting the fish passage on Bronx River Alliance’s paddling tours and observing the it from River Park.
About the Bronx River Alliance
The Bronx River Alliance serves as a coordinated voice for the river and works in harmonious partnership to protect, improve and restore the Bronx River corridor so that it can be a healthy ecological, recreational, educational and economic resource for the communities through which the river flows. The Alliance works in close partnership with NYC Parks and numerous other organizations to achieve these goals. Linda Cox, FAICP, is the Bronx River Administrator for NYC Parks as well as Executive Director of the Alliance.
About NYC Parks' Natural Resources Group
New York City's natural areas continue to support diverse plant and wildlife populations, including numerous rare, threatened and endangered species. Of 29,000 acres of NYC parkland, over 10,000 acres are composed of forest, woodland, freshwater wetland and salt marsh ecosystems — all of which face the constant threats from human impacts. www.bronxriver.org