When you think of New York, you might automatically think of the city. You might envision bright lights, speeding cabs, horns honking, and streets filled with pedestrians trying to get to work, taking in the sights, and making the most of their day in the Big Apple. You might think of Broadway shows and the Empire State Building. What you probably don’t think of, however, is a wildlife sanctuary that houses acre upon acre of beautiful wildlife. Located only 20 minutes from Beachfront Road, the Brant Point Wildlife Sanctuary is exactly what it sounds like; a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of New York. Protected from development, this sanctuary is the home to hundreds of species of birds and butterflies, as well as to plenty of natural wonder, such as salt marshes and barrier islands.
This little piece of Jamaica Bay is a place where families should take their children to learn about the importance of saltwater marshes and the history of protecting the environment. The Parks Commission of New York spends a great deal of time protecting areas like the Brant Point Wildlife Sanctuary from being destroyed to make room for more high rises and urban structures.
History of Brant Point Wildlife Sanctuary
The Brant Point Wildlife Sanctuary is the wetlands portion of Jamaica Bay, which is an 18,000 acre estuary to the North of Rockaway Peninsula, East of Brooklyn, and West of Queens. The bay is almost the same size as Manhattan, and it is made up of dozens of small islands, waterways, meadows, and ponds. It hosts a mecca of different wildlife species, including more than 300 types of birds, 100 types of fish, and more than 50 different kinds of butterflies. Former Parks Commissioner Robert Moses led the effort to have Jamaica Bay placed under the Parks Jurisdiction in 1938. He worked hard to ensure that nothing would be done to the area that includes Brant Point Wildlife Sanctuary, including a proposed port that would be built in the area, so that the sanctuary would remain as it is. The Brant Point Wildlife Sanctuary came under the Parks in 1992 and remains undeveloped in an effort to keep Jamaica Bay a natural area.
The Importance of Brant Point Wildlife Sanctuary
While some people are perfectly aware that marshes are a vital part of the ecosystem, others are not aware of this. When the last batch of glaciers melted around 7,000 years ago, it caused the oceans to rise to the level that they are today. While the water from the glaciers covered land from times long ago, sediment was washed away and deposited on the ground offshore, which created islands. These are called barrier islands; they protect the bays behind them. On the ocean side of the barrier islands, the shore takes quite a beating from the waves and surf, but the bays behind them are protected, which enables them to grow saltmarsh cordgrass. This grass traps debris and sediment to protect the ocean and land. As the debris disintegrates into the grass, the mud becomes rich with nutrients that allow life in the marshes.
The importance of the Brant Point Wildlife Sanctuary is to protect the ocean and bays. Salt marshes keep debris, pollution, and other harmful substances from reaching the oceans and destroying the ecosystem. This is a place where you can see what nature looks like in all its glory, as well as learn to understand the vital importance of protecting the environment. Your family will enjoy a day spent in Jamaica Bay visiting the Brant Point Wildlife Sanctuary, the views are breathtaking and the knowledge you will bring home is second to none.