|Inwood’s North Cove: Where the wild things are!
Story by Adrian Cabreja
In the belief that wildlife takes little hold on an area marked by concrete, fire hydrants and parked vehicles, James Cataldi, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and founder of the Manhattan WetLands and WildLife Association has worked tirelessly to prove other wise
“The North Cove is now home to about 20 different species of animals,” says Cataldi, an Inwood resident “And it looks like more species will continue to make it their home.
The North Cove tucked near Manhattan’s north eastern tip is a partially submerged salt marsh that plays host to scores of Canada Geese, Ducks, American Kestrels, Fiddler Crabs, Blue Crabs and various small fish and mussels
“You also have 330 migrating birds fly north and south through New York City each year, along with multigenerational insects like monarch butterfly.”
The North Cove (along with other locations in Northern Manhattan) is part of an east coast migratory rout called the Atlantic flyway a route that thousands of birds use to migrate every year. The Atlantic flyway extends from the Chilean coast all the way the northern tip of Canada.
Other than its habitual importance, the North Cove is important for the reason that it is a landing spot for various birds that make this long journey.
But, although the North Cove is becoming a sanctuary for various species of animals it was not always this way. It was due to large efforts that this outback located in Northern Manhattan has recently become host to visiting and permanent life.
Upon being introduced to the North Cove, Cataldi was astonished to find what he called a “Heorin Shantytown” and a dumping ground
“I saw no life at the cove the place felt sterile,” said Cataldi
At the time the North Cove was home to two sickly geese
Cataldi, Immediately began what would virtually be a sole effort to clean and rehabilitate the North Cove. For the past four years Cataldi has dedicated almost every single day to this mission Missing only one day.
Cataldi, has removed over 1,200 cubic meters of waste from the cove. The garbage included tons of syringes, toxins and rubber tires.
Initially what would be a difficult effort was further agitated by early efforts to develop the cove a development that could have retarded Cataldi’s rehabilitating efforts. In addition to this Cataldi was accused by the MTA for trespassing
“I was kicked out of the cove almost everyday. I was stubborn however and id come back and continue cleaning,” said Cataldi.
Since then however Cataldi has sought public support and is federally protected and authorized to restore the North Cove.
“Mr. Cataldi has conducted 99% of this clean up on his own without any funding and few resources.” said Carol Lynes of the United Stated Environmental Protection Agency. “He is a modern day ‘Lorax’” she continued referring to Dr. Seus’s famed character that fought against plighting the environment
“He has a great passion for what he does”, said State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
Although Cataldi has restored some life into the North Cove his founding of the Manhattan WetLands and WildLife Association (MWWA) is warrant to a desire for further development and the realization that there is a lot of work to be done.
The MWWA has recently published what would be their 10-year plan to restore and further the work necessary at the North Cove. Some of MWWA’s focuses will be on wildlife monitoring, care and rehabilitation, testing and improving the water quality at and around North Cove, fighting soil erosion and water pollution, stopping sediment leaching and burdening into the Harlem River and providing an overall value and benefit to Inwood.
“I have done most of the cleaning. The problem now is that the soil is dead. The cove was a dumping ground for so many years that the soil itself became dead. There is no life in the soil. A healthier environment starts on the microbiological level and there is no microbiology in the soil,” said Cataldi.
“Although the area has been significantly improved, it will take years of continuous work to clean up the area and restore to it to a viable tidal wetland,” said Lynes.
For more information on the MWWA and to volunteer in MWWA’s restoration efforts please visit nycwetlands.org
IMG 1: Canada Geese ready to take flight.
IMG 2: “Although the area has been significantly improved, it will take years of continuous work to clean up the area and restore to it to a viable tidal wetland,” said Lynes. Photo by MWWAIMG 3: “I was kicked out of the cove almost everyday. I was stubborn however and id come back and continue cleaning,” said Cataldi.