Sunken Meadow State Park Restoration

Volunteers join a New York State Parks employee in planting salt marsh grasses at Sunken Meadow State Park. Credit: Save the Sound.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused devastation throughout much of the mid-Atlantic seaboard of the United States. Despite all of Hurricane Sandy’s negative impacts on our area there was one beneficial outcome to report. Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge helped to remove a manmade earthen berm at the mouth of Sunken Meadow Creek at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, NY. The berm, built in the 1950s during park infrastructure development, had essentially cut off tidal flow from the Long Island Sound to the creek resulting in poor water quality and habitat within the ecosystem. Hurricane Sandy’s breach of the berm restored tidal flow to the creek for the first time in over 60 years and created the possibility for tidal wetland restoration within the waterway.

Luckily, Save the Sound, NYS State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, NYS Deptartment of Environmental Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service were already working on designs in 2012 for breaching and restoring the creek. In 2014, the partners developed a restoration plan for the creek, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded funding to Save the Sound to strengthen the park’s resiliency. The project included tidal wetland restoration, fish passage feasibility studies, an 18-acre parking lot green infrastructure retrofit, and education and outreach. To date, the project has restored four acres of tidal wetland habitat in the creek. Over 100 volunteers have assisted with the restoration work with further planting opportunities available in 2019.

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