- is a tidal strait 8 miles long between the Hudson and the East Rivers
- is a part of the Greater Hudson River Estuary System (1)
What is the Greater Hudson River Estuary System?
- Our Hudson River Estuary System runs from Troy, NYS to the mouth of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers
- These waters contain a valiable mix of fresh and salt water and are susceptible to tidal forces and fluctuations, sedimentation, rare biological cycling, and nutrient mixing; however protected from the force of Atlantic Ocean waves (2) and most marine debris
NYC Harbor, Harlem and Hudson Rivers
Our New York City Harbor and the Harlem River are critical parts of the Hudson River Greater Estuary System. Unfortunately our estuarial system is under serious environmental threat, especially the 5 last remaining inlets or mud flats on eastern shore of northern manhattan island along western edge the Harlem River. (including the north cove wildlife sanctuary with city plans for development under the stewardship of the Manhattan Wetlands and Wildlife Association founded by James “the birdman of inwood” Cataldi)
This critical area of concern requiring much more environmental protection runs from around 190 th street to 218th street, made up of swindler’s cove, Sherman creek, north cove, boathouse cove, and inwood hill park inlet. These inlets or tidal mud flats function as a critical landing area for birds and multi generational insects along the east coast migration path, and provide ideal public access to the Harlem River and some of the most beautiful scenic views of the Harlem Rover.
NYC portion of the greater estuary, with Inlets and water sheds
Our estuaries including Greater Hudson River Estuary System and northern manhattan inlets and water sheds are under extreme threat of extreme risk of non recoverable degradation and complete and non recoverable total collapse. This threat is directly related to developers, recreational interests, apathy and lack of knowledge of the issues and their importance of tjese rare environmental resources both for today and for future generations. (however our public elected officials are starting to realize the extreme importance of protecting these inlets from development and the role they play in the east coast path that passes over manhattan)
Because of high populations of people along the coastal zones, estuaries like the greater Hudson and Harlem River Estuary Systems are as well negatively affected by many factors based on human activity, gross neglect, capital greed or short term self interests of special interests.
These serious environmental imclude the following:
sedimentation from soil erosion
unplanned and balanced development from entities like Columbia University
money focused developers irresponsible projects
deforestation and covering green habitats with blacktop, cement or pavement
industrial and commercial activities including:
oils, (transportation and cooking)
gasoline and other toxic pollutants
business and agency gross abuse and negligence
over recreation use
Reckless development of tidal mud flats
non toxic point pollution and dumping of trash
Our Wetlands such as swamps and marshes filter the water and keep sediments back that pollute or entropy the water downstream. Wetland plants and soils act as a buffer between the ocean and the land and suck up storm surges, protecting the shorelines. This is especially important when the oceans rise in the future, combined with heavy rains, and winds. protecting the upland habitats, and urban developments in low lying areas of Manhattan, and the Bronx, and Queens. Salt marshes grasses and other plants also protect against erosion and stabilize the shoreline. (mwawa plans to return north cove into a five zone fully functioning salt water marsh)
Manhattan (MW&WA) [ www.NYCWetLands.org ] is dedicated to protecting estuary coves and inlets, and educating the public elected officials and the public at large, as well as with boots on the ground.
Future Mudflat Planting Scheme
After the MWAWA principals and volunteers complete the clean up effort (estimated to take over a decade), and in place a barrier permitting water to pass through, however protect from large destructive boat wakes, (especially the Circle Line) and prevent river and ocean débris from again polluting the mudflat and shore lines, as is currently taking place.
What is unique and rare about our Hudson/ Harlem River Estuaries?
An estuary is an enclosed transition zone between a river and the ocean where salt water and fresh water mix. The more fresh to salt water (ratio of fresh to salt water), the more biodiversity the eco-system is present. We believe the Inwood North Cove is the healthiest of the 5 coves, (between 187 to 218) the North Cove has a high fresh to salt water mix, making it among the most valuable and productive of its size.
These rare natural habitat eco-systems, like the Inwood North Cove (inlet or tidal mudflat) require public protection protection from development, in addition to protection laws congress, state and local governments.
These eco-systems also require daily active monitoring and stewardship of the wildlife and feral populations for today and future generations to come. Inwood North Cove serves as inspiration and as best practices guidelines and base lines, and warning indicators for the greater , creating more organic matter in a year than any other ecosystem of similar area as part of the Greater Hudson river estuary system.
Although mudflats or saltwater marshes along estuaries and the greater Hudson River Estuary System are protected from the full force of the ocean’s waves and ocean storms and marine debris, the Greater Hudson River Estuary System, and the remaining five sister coves including North Cove and the Sherman Creek, are some of the most productive ecosystems on the earth of similar area. Because of their unique composition of salt and fresh water they offer a highly unique habitat to a large variety of different, symbiotic, uncommon communities that are well adapted (and vital) for life specifically in this habitat (3).
Why is the Hudson / Harlem River Estuary Important?
Estuaries are home to a variety of different species including: many marine organisms dependent on estuary ecosystems for at least part of their life cycles. Estuaries are ideal for migrating birds, and insects as a place to rest, breed, interact with other migrating members of the same conspecifics, get food and recover from injury on or along their journey. These migration points are critical for the migration of approximately 400 migratory birds, water species including invertebrates, and insects, on the East Coast Migration Path. Many species of fish and other wildlife use the protected nature of the estuary to breed and recover from injury.. Estuaries also provide great cultural benefits in recreation and scientific study, (4) especially in Manhattan, as Manhattan is along the main path of the east coast migration. (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspecificity)
Is North Cove, the sister 3 coves and Sherman Creek critical to the larger Estuary System?
Yes, the North Cove is a critical part of the greater Hudson Estuary System, under extreme threat from developers after generations of apathy and neglect and gross abuse. As well the entire group of mudflats between 185 and 218th and the old growth forest (last remaining in Manhattan), (now under threat of complete collapse). Collectively these are rare and special eco-systems in their own right, and the bio diverse eco-systems. More biological action in the mud amd soil than tempura zone or tropical rain forests around, which have most of the bio mass in the canopy of the trees, not on the ground.
Our mudflats exist in estuaries because of the sheltered area and the sediment deposition estuaries are known for. Mudflats are rare, unique and provide critical home habitats for many diverse and inter dependent benthic invertebrates like clams and mussels, which are the base of the food chain for many fish and birds as well (5). (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meiobenthos)
NORTH COVE MUD FLAT FUTURE SALT MARSH WILL LOOK MUCH LIKE IT MIGHT HAVE LOOKED 400 YEARS AGO
Rehabilitation has started at the bottom (lowest levels of the mud flat), and work the way up to the higher levels of the mud flat, and shore lines and finally up the street levels. Salt marsh cord grass and glass wort first- when they take hold the environment will be a great environment to start planing the rest of the plants. However the Salt marsh cord grass and glass wort have to take hold so their roots stabilize the environment and their shoots shift the tide and provide oxygen.
Phragmites (plants) will be planted at North Cove: the common reed can take over the future North Cove salt marsh, so be will be careful, however many species including birds thrive on them. [ www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phragmites ]
UPLAND BORDER (transitional zone)
shrubby vegetation, grasses and flowering plants
HIGH MARSH– Sometimes flooded
MUDFLATS – REGULARLY FLOODED (twice daily)