Successes in the Bronx River offer best practices that can be replicated in other communities

Bronx, NY – Oct. 23, 2014 –
For more than ten years a coalition of community and government partners have been working together to restore the Bronx River – a project that has resulted in cleaner rivers, vibrant ecosystem, numerous education initiatives, and improved access to one of New York City’s richest natural resources. Today, the Wildlife Conservation Society, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and community partners hosted a symposium at WCS’s Bronx Zoo where experts discussed best practices, challenges, and opportunities for urban river restoration.

The goal of the symposium was to examine the role of urban river restoration as a driver for community well being and engagement; discuss the ways that clean rivers promote healthy urban ecologies; and identify opportunities for support for urban river programs.

The keynote address was delivered by Stephen R. Kellert, Tweedy Ordway Professor Emeritus of Social Ecology and Senior Research Scholar at Yale University, and concurrent sessions covered a vast array of topics from planning river restoration projects, watershed management, community engagement, wildlife conservation, and program funding.

“The NOAA-WCS Partnership has been a great opportunity for NOAA Fisheries to help with grant funding and successful completion of nearly 70 habitat restoration and other supporting projects over the past 14 years” said Jim Turek, NOAA Coordinator for the partnership. “The foresight by Congressman Seranno in securing targeted restoration funds, combined with the dedication of an array of local leaders, groups and volunteers have served well in contributing to this successful restoration partnership.”

Said John F. Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President, Public Affairs: “It is amazing to see what this partnership has been able to accomplish on the Bronx River. WCS works with communities around the world to conserve wildlife, habitats, and natural resources. This is a wonderful local example of that kind of work. It is an invaluable resource for the community and an ever growing source of pride for residents of the Bronx.”

Said Linda Cox, Executive Director Bronx River Alliance and Bronx River Administrator for New York City Department of Parks and Recreation: “It has been a great experience sharing our successes and lessons learned on the Bronx River and reflecting on the challenges ahead. We look forward to continuing to work with so many collaborators on the restoration of the Bronx River.”

Said Marit Larson, Director of Wetlands Restoration, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation: “The Bronx River is critical ecologically, supporting locally rare wetland plant communities and a diversity of wild-life, including dozens of species of bird fish. The river also provides a unique open space through the Bronx, connecting human and natural communities from the estuary to the upland forest. NYC Parks and partners have restored significant stream habitat over the past decade, and created new opportunities for the community to experience and enjoy the Bronx River. We look forward to continuing to protect, enhance and manage this great resource.”

Said Adam Green, Executive Director of Rocking the Boat: “For the past decade the WCS-NOAA Lower Bronx River Partnership has brought scientists, educators, activists, students, and community members together in service of revitalizing both the River and the Bronx communities it runs through. As a result, the Bronx River is healthier than it has been in centuries and thousands of neighbors have fallen in love with a natural resource they never knew existed. Rocking the Boat is proud to have dedicated such a significant degree of its own organizational development around this effort and is committed to continuing to do so long into the future.”

Congressman José E. Serrano was honored at a reception concluding the day’s events where the Wildlife Conservation Society, NOAA, and the community partners extended their gratitude to the Congressman for his critical, unwavering support for the restoration work on the Bronx and Harlem Rivers.

Community Partners:

Banana Kelly High School
Bronx Council for Environmental Quality
Bronx River Alliance
Bronx River Art Center
City Parks Foundation
Friends of Brook Park
Gaia Institute
Highbridge Community Life Center
Hudson River Foundation
Lehman College
Natural Resources Group, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
The New York Botanical Garden
New York City Audubon
New York City Economic Development Corporation
New York Restoration Project
Phipps CDC/Drew Gardens
The Point Community Development Corporation
Rocking the Boat
Sustainable South Bronx
Wildlife Conservation Society
Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice

Steve Sautner – 718-220-3682;
Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182;