Saw Mill Creek’s degraded marshland is being restored after serving as an illegal dumping ground for decades.
New York City is nearing the completion of a 54-acre wetlands restoration project on Staten Island’s west shore after years of dredging debris from Saw Mill Creek. This mitigation bank is the first of its kind in New York City.
The restoration is expected to reduce flooding and protect shorelines from storm surges. The wetlands suffered severe damage from dumping and from Hurricane Sandy. More than 40,000 cu yd of debris were removed from tidal wetlands, marshlands and mudflats that make up the Saw Mill Creek watershed, according to a press release by New York Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Tires, hunks of concrete and abandoned boats and cars became common sights in the marshland along Saw Mill Creek, reported Curbed.
“The restoration of over 50 acres of tidal wetlands will create hundreds of jobs and revitalize the city's waterfront, while accelerating future development projects,” said James Patchett, president and CEO of NYCEDC.
The mitigation bank simplifies the restoration process since builders no longer have to go through lengthy reviews for individual efforts. Mitigation banking has been endorsed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. EPA amongst other organizations as the most successful and preferred approach to offset unavoidable wetlands impacts, according to NYCEDC.
“Wetlands help protect our island from severe weather events, improve our quality of life by purifying the air and create habitats for other species to live in,” said Assemblymember Michael Cusick. “I look forward to seeing the success of the Saw Mill Creek Mitigation Bank replicated elsewhere in the city and across New York State."
The second phase of the Saw Mill Creek restoration project will tackle another 15 acres, according to Curbed.
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