In 2019, Langan Engineering conducted a habitat assessment of the project area on-land and in the East River. It was based on information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC), which generates a list of Federally-listed threatened/endangered species in the United States. IPaC also covers other resources - such as critical habitat - that are either known or expected to exist in the project area.
Wildlife in the Project Area: Based on a recent IPaC criteria, there are no critical habitats at the project site. A variety of migratory birds have been identified in the project area as either ‘birds of conservation concern’ or those that ‘warrant special attention’.
Fish in the Project Area: NOAA National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) has identified Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) in the waters of the East River around Southpoint Park, including: Blue Fish, Atlantic Butterfish, Summer Flounder, Winter Flounder, Little Skate, Atlantic Herring, Red Hake, Windowpane Flounder, Winter Skate and Clearnose Skate. None of these fish are listed as State or Federal ‘Threatened and Endangered Species’.
Conclusion: Due to the absence of threatened or endangered species on and adjacent to the project site, it is unlikely the project will adversely affect threatened or endangered wildlife.
Vegetation in Project Area:
Westside: the vegetative community is primarily a scrub-herbaceous community dominated by Ragweed, Mugwort, London Plane tree, Norway Maple and Black Locust.
This vegetation is primarily non-native and/or invasive. But it provides a habitat for a variety of song birds and neo tropical migrants. Several Canada Geese were seen in this area with their young during a field inspection conducted at the end of May 2019.
Eastside: the waterfront has a similar understory as the west side but includes more and larger diameter trees in various physical conditions from good to poor. The trees include: Silver Maple, Siberian Elm, Eastern Cottonwood, Black Locust, Mulberry and Boxelder. Japanese Knotweed and Mugwort dominate the understory.
The understory is fairly dense in some sections. Similar to the west side of The Park, the eastern side provides suitable habitat for migrants such as songbirds and occasional waterfowl such as ducks and Canada Geese.
Conclusion: The majority of the vegetation to be removed is non-native and invasive. This vegetation will be replaced by trees, shrubs and herbs that are primarily native or naturalized with some ornamental herbs along the proposed walkway. These plants will attract more bird and wildlife species to the park.
The existing sea walls prevent the movement of wildlife to and from the river. The rip-rap revetment will provide a transition from the river onto the site for a variety species which may occasionally inhabit the site during breeding and migration seasons, possibly waterfowl and sea turtles.
Final Conclusion: The project will result in the temporary removal of the invasive vegetated habitat. The new rip-rap edge and enhanced vegetation will be greatly improve the area for wildlife.
The following agencies have reviewed these findings as part of the application process for the Southpoint Park Open Space Project.
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps)
- U.S. Department of the Interior – Fish and Wildlife Services
- New York State Department of State (NYS DOS)
- New York City Waterfront Revitalization Program (NYC WRP)
- National Marine Fisheries Services (NOAA)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- New York State – Homeland Security and Emergency Services
- New York State – Departmental of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC)
- New York State – State Historic Preservation Office (NYS SHPO)
- New York City – Department of City Planning (NYC DCP)
- New York City – Small Business Services (NYC SBS) - for Waterfront Revitalization Program Consistency Review
- New York City – Landmark Preservation Commission - for Waterfront Revitalization Program Consistency Review