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  • Heidi E Golden

NYC: Should Have Brought the Machete

Recently, I traveled to the wilds of New York City's Brooklyn and Queens boroughs with Johnny Quispe as part of Princeton Hydro's aquatics team to monitor sea level fluctuations within the marshes of Spring Creek. This tidal ecosystem is bounded by busy highways, residential neighborhoods, and a water treatment plant, with JFK airport only a few miles away as the gull flies. Stepping off the pavement and through a chain linked fence "portal," we were transported from the city's bustle into a jungle of sumac and phragmites (the invasive common reed), every step fraught with ensnaring vines. We bushwhacked our way through upland, scrub-shrub, high marsh, and low marsh to deploy water level loggers at three different locations within the tidal creeks.

Johnny Quispe and I make our way through a jungle of reeds and sumac. Next time I'm brining a machete!

This site is called Spring Creek North to prevent confusion with the adjacent Spring Creek South project on the eastern side of the Belt Parkway. Our ecosystem restoration project aims to restore over 45 acres of degraded area, improving the water quality, species diversity, and wildlife habitat of Spring Creek and its associated salt marshes. Setting up monitoring stations and collecting and analyzing field data provides scientific baselines necessary to begin planning specifications for this effort.


We stumble upon a tire graveyard on our way to our first tide gauge location.

Our tidal gauge loggers record data from sensors measuring barometric pressure, water pressure, and temperature.

Healthy tidal marsh ecosystems not only create habitat for natural plant and animal communities, but provide resiliency to coastal human populations from ever increasing threats from climate change driven storm surges and sea level rise.


This fiesty fiddler crab, no larger then my thumb, defends his territory from our unwelcome intrusion.

We finish our last station just as dusk approaches, providing a beautiful end to a successful, albeit tiring, day on the marsh.

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