Photo: Max Guliani for Hudson River Park

New underwater habitat will support a variety of marine life while improving the overall health of the Hudson River ecosystem

The Hudson River Park Trust announced that it is expanding its habitat enhancement efforts through the deployment of an estimated 20 million juvenile oysters along the northern shoreline of the Park’s Gansevoort Peninsula. The oysters are set on hundreds of submerged structures, known as reef balls and gabions, and will bolster the overall health of the Park’s 400-acre Estuarine Sanctuary by creating an underwater reef-like system.

This habitat restoration project is a key component of the ongoing process of converting the Gansevoort Peninsula into a new 5.5-acre park anticipated to open in Spring 2023. The new submerged features will provide hard structures where encrusting organisms will settle as well as protective places for local fish populations to hide. Fabricated and seeded by the Billion Oyster Project, the structures are being installed by Trevcon Construction as part of the broader park project designed by James Corner Field Operations on behalf of the Hudson River Park Trust.

“This new underwater habitat at the Gansevoort Peninsula advances the Trust’s mission of protecting and supporting the Park’s Estuarine Sanctuary by creating new homes for the variety of marine life that resides in or passes through Park waters, and it will also help us create a more resilient Park,” said Noreen Doyle, President and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust. “Restoring the local oyster population provides important benefits for humans, wildlife and the environment and we are proud to be a local leader in these efforts.”

The Gansevoort project builds on the Trust’s environmental work, inclusive of prior oyster installations, and has the goal of creating greater habitat diversity for the organisms that live in the Park’s Estuarine Sanctuary. As the juvenile oysters deployed through this installation mature and reproduce, they will collectively create an oyster reef complex and improve underwater habitat for many estuarine organisms, including the over 85 fish species that migrate through or reside in the Park’s Sanctuary waters. These structures will also help protect the Gansevoort Peninsula’s northern shoreline by reducing wave energy and storm surge impacts, which in turn, will preserve the health of the adjacent salt marsh which will be installed later this season as another part of the Gansevoort project.

“Billion Oyster Project is excited for another summer fabricating structures, setting reef balls and gabions with oyster larvae, and deploying these structures at Gansevoort Peninsula in collaboration with Hudson River Park Trust and Trevcon Construction,” said Danielle Bissett, Director of Restoration at Billion Oyster Project. “These large-scale projects highlight the potential of restoring oysters to the Hudson River and we’re looking forward to supporting this ongoing effort!”

“The Hudson River Park Trust challenged JCFO to not only design a beautiful, functional, and resilient park, but to help the Trust meet their habitat goals within the Hudson River estuary,” said Sanjukta Sen, Senior Associate at James Corner Field Operations. “Our design team analyzed the site and determined that the north edge provided an ideal location due to its relatively sheltered location. We developed a design that incorporates a combination of reef balls and oyster gabions deployed in a carefully engineered reef system along the north edge of the peninsula. We’re proud that our design will provide valuable habitat opportunities within the Hudson River Estuarine Sanctuary.”

“We’re happy and excited to be involved with this part of the revitalization of oysters in the Hudson River. The project has progressed and been successfully completed as planned for the submerged habitat. We appreciate the opportunity to improve this waterway with the restoration of the oyster habitat,” said Danny Li, Vice President at Trevcon Construction Company, Inc.

Installation of the Gansevoort habitat enhancement features will continue through approximately July 21st. Funding for this project, as with the rest of Gansevoort Peninsula, was provided by the City of New York as part of its continuing commitment to Hudson River Park. New York State is similarly providing the funding for another new park section expected to open in 2023 at Pier 97.

Construction of the Gansevoort Peninsula started in 2021 and is expected to open as a new public park area featuring direct river access, a salt marsh, dog run, adult fitness zone and full-size athletic field. The southern edge of the Gansevoort Peninsula already features David Hammons’ Day’s End, a permanent, site-specific public art installation gifted to Hudson River Park by the Whitney Museum of American Art and dedicated in 2021.

The Gansevoort project follows the success of the Trust’s Tribeca Habitat Enhancement Project. Completed in December 2021, that project, located between Pier 26 and Pier 34, reached the milestone of deploying 11.2 million juvenile oysters in the Park’s Sanctuary waters. Together, these two habitat enhancement projects will provide researchers with invaluable information about ways to support marine life within the Hudson River and beyond. Recently, the Trust approved a contract for five years of research in the Tribeca Habitat area in partnership with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

These activities are also part of the Park’s ongoing effort to communicate the ecological importance of the Park’s Estuarine Sanctuary through its River Project’s educational and scientific programs. Their work invites visitors of all ages to experience the Hudson River as a living laboratory for community engagement, stewardship and learning, with programming that reaches over 30,000 New Yorkers annually.

ABOUT HUDSON RIVER PARK
Hudson River Park, which extends from Chambers Street to 59th Street along Manhattan’s west side, is the longest riverfront park in the United States. This free, urban recreational oasis is home to award winning skate parks, playgrounds, sports fields, gardens and nature exhibits, boating and maritime activities, art installations, and myriad year-round events that celebrate the diverse cultures and neighborhoods along its shores. The Park, which transformed four miles of decaying piers and parking lots into a premier New York City destination for local residents and visitors alike, plays a critical role in protecting the Hudson River ecosystem. For more information, please visit www.hudsonriverpark.org, or follow the Park on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @HudsonRiverPark.