Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Restoration Projects

North and South Garden Native Plant Restoration

“This important restoration work at Jamaica Bay connects science and recreation, nature and people...JBRPC is proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service to create a resilient Jamaica Bay for nature, local residents, and visitors alike.”
— Tom Secunda, Chairman, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of Gateway National Recreation Area in Queens, is the only wildlife refuge in the National Parks System. It provides sanctuary to an impressive array of birds—more than 330 species have been sighted—and other wildlife such as reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and small mammals. The Refuge is a popular destination for bird watching and programming is offered throughout the year for students, connecting them with nature and the environment.

The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC), worked in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to improve the ecological health of habitats, increase resiliency, and enhance visitor experience at the refuge.  JBRPC is proud to support this important work!


What is the project?

  •  Restore native plant communities, including flood and salt-tolerant plants, to create better habitat for migratory birds and improve the site’s ability to recover from future floods.
  • Complete baseline biological monitoring, including surveys of birds, soils, vegetation and insects for long-term monitoring.
  • Reduce invasive plants on approximately 14-acres of parkland.
Project Site Map

Project Site Map


Project Benefits

The project benefits not only the environment and the species living in the refuge, but also visitors and the surrounding community. With more frequent flooding, sea level rise and storms predicted for New York City, this project will help improve the site’s ability to recover and to lessen the impacts of extreme weather. Here are the actions that will make this project a success:

Restoring Biodiversity to the Refuge

  • Removing invasive species
  • Establishing diverse native plant communities
  • Supporting native wildlife

Improving Visitor Experience

  • Enhancing wildlife viewing
  • Improving education and outreach opportunities
Photo provided by The Nature Conservancy. 

Photo provided by The Nature Conservancy. 

Project Timeline

South Garden

The Nature Conservancy, JBRPC and NPS began work on the South Garden site in the Winter of 2015.  In Spring 2016, The Nature Conservancy, JBRPC and NPS, with help from more than 120 volunteers, removed invasive species and planted 2,200 plants on nearly 2-acres of parkland.

In the Summer of 2016, The Nature Conservancy and NPS continued to remove invasive species from the refuge and prepared nearly 4-acres for volunteer planting projects in the Fall of 2016.  More than 275 volunteers participated in the Fall planting session and planted more than 7,800 trees!

North Garden

The work continued in 2017. In January 2017, project partners removed invasive species in the North Garden area of the refuge, and in October 2017, a large volunteer planting project helped plant over 18,000 trees and shrubs.  The project will now be followed by long-term monitoring of the site and adaptive management. 

Photo provided by The Nature Conservancy. 

Photo provided by The Nature Conservancy. 

How you can help

Hundreds of volunteers were engaged in re-planting the site over a three year period, and others joined - or will join - in monitoring butterflies and pollinators to track the project’s success. Volunteer opportunities related to this and other projects can be found on our Volunteer page. Monetary donations are also appreciated to help support this and other work.