Habitat Restoration and Water Health

This year we created water programming close to home by focusing on one local body of water and placing it in the context of water around the world. Young people in Brooklyn learned about Newtown Creek’s history and status, made their own model watershed, and went outside to care for trees – natural filters for our water.

We continued a decade-long exchange between NYC and the origin of our drinking water. Students participated in 19 restoration projects which resulted in mulching and/or planting of over 3,250 trees, shrubs, and ground cover plants in 7 NYC parks and on four school campuses along bodies of water in four of the five boroughs and in sections of NYC’s watersheds in the Catskill Mountains. This year, we added tree care to our habitat restoration projects, caring for

400 trees. We continue to plant new trees and plants, but caring for newly planted trees, many part of the “Million Trees” initiative, is imperative for their long-term success. Mulching, aerating soil, weeding, and watering is fun for students and directly supports the NYS Regents Earth Science Syllabus, as it covers water retention, soil permeability, and management of storm water runoff.

I found planting trees and removing invasive plants to be simple and fun because I felt I was helping the planet!—Darian Rivera, DeWitt Clinton HS student

An Example of Water Education in Action

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA50 Living Environment students at Frances Perkins Academy in Williamsburg studied the state of water quality throughout the world, the structure of the NYC water supply system, and the history and status of Newtown Creek. They then built model watersheds to analyze how water flows through an ecosystem, assessed the permeability of different soils, and conducted water tests to compare the quality of Newtown Creek to NYC drinking water. Then, they mulched 36 trees and planted 13 new ones at McCarren Park, thanks to help from the Parks. Dept.

Their younger fifth grade schoolmates from PS 31 planted 1,020 Liriope plants and other shrubs, mulched 26 trees and shrubs, spread grass seed over 600 square feet, and spread three cubic yards of mulch, all in McCarren Park.