The Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor recently received a $14,000 grant to launch a habitat restoration project in Glenwood Landing. The grant was awarded by Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and gear company that provides funding to thousands of community-based groups working to create positive change for the planet in their own backyards.
Through the winter, the coalition monitors the bacteria levels of water draining through shoreline outfalls, and found that runoff from the Powerhouse Drain Subwatershed, which is adjacent to the former site of the old Powerhouse building, contained high levels of nitrogen. The project is aimed at reducing that hazardous runoff from further contaminating Hempstead Harbor through a series of plantings, said Carol DiPaolo, CSHH’s program director.
“A major contributor of [contamination] is subwatershed that drains down from Glenwood Road into a huge outfall, which ends up in the harbor,” she said. “This bacteria is coming from stormwater runoff that can’t be contained, wildlife, and failing septic systems.”
The money will be used to develop a pilot project, which will provide nitrogen-absorbing shrubs and plants for residents to sow on their properties, thereby reducing nitrogen pollutants from contaminating the harbor. The ecological functions of the planters would help reduce the amount of pollutants that runoff into the harbor over time.
“The project encompasses 10 homeowners [who we will] work with to decide the best plants to use on their properties,” DiPaolo said. Plants and shrubs for the project will be provided to participating homeowners free of charge. “We’re hoping the success of the project can be replicated by another 10 properties, depending on future funding we receive.”
Additionally, the project includes a series of public education workshops to inform residents on the benefits of the restoration, as well as public data collection, which will measure nitrogen levels after the new plants are installed.
DiPaolo added that the workshops would also “make people aware of what the sources of these contaminants are, and how their actions and behaviors have an impact on the environment, too. Changing certain behaviors can add up in a big way and help further environmental improvements.”
CSHH’s president, Karen Papasergiou, echoed this claim. “I am quite excited about the project because it furthers our goals of engaging the community in helping to improve conditions in Hempstead Harbor,” she said.
This spring, CSHH will be notifying residents of the schedule of workshops and will look for volunteers to participate in the planting. The first meeting is scheduled for May 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gold Coast Library.
“It’s important to be more vigilant as more challenges arise and encourage residents to help in being part of the solution,” DiPaolo said.
If you are interested in helping with the habitat restoration project, contact the coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.