Wetland Frequently Asked Questions

What are wetlands?

Wetlands are areas of land saturated by water, either permanently or seasonally, such that they take on characteristics of a distinct ecosystem. Freshkills Park is home to many different types of wetlands, including salt marshes and freshwater wetlands.

Why is wetlands hydrology important?

Wetlands hydrology is the study of water in these special areas.  Research allows for better understanding of water quality, flood control, streamflow maintenance, species diversity, and the measuring of the economic benefits of wetlands.  Learn more about our water monitoring program, which tests for five different parameters: pH, phosphate, nitrate/nitrite, dissolved oxygen, and temperature here.

What is the difference between tidal salt marshes and inland freshwater marshes?

Tidal salt marshes are coastal wetlands that are flooded and drained by the tides. They are home to a diverse set of species, including Diamondback Terrapins, herons, and salt-resistant cordgrass.  In Freshkills Park they can be found along Main Creek and Richmond Creek, and make up the majority of the wetlands found at Freshkills.

Freshwater wetlands usually occur along streams, lakes, and rivers, and usually under periodic or permanent shallow water. Freshwater wetlands shelter many species, including Mallard Ducks, muskrats, and Red-Backed Salamanders.  In Freshkills Park, this habitat is found near East Park and South Park and are human-created systems resulting from the drainage systems that route water away from the mounds.  Non-tidal marshes are the most prevalent and widely distributed wetland habitat across the United States.

What is the difference between developed land and wet land?

In contrast to an impermeable concrete promenade, a wetland has a naturally soft edge.  The land goes through stages of saturation before transitioning into firm ground further inland. Wetlands are a riparian, or “in-between” zone – a liminal boundary that behaves like a sponge. They can absorb and slow down the velocity of a storm surge, lessening its force and magnitude, thereby decreasing the damage it may cause.

What is wetland restoration?

Wetland restoration is the process to restore ecological functions lost due to draining and filling.  Regulations related to the Clean Water Act guide wetland restoration. Wetland restoration measures at Freshkills Park have included using goats to remove invasive species. A Living Shoreline pilot project focused on the potential of restoring two tidal wetland locations using existing salt marsh plants (Spartina, Phragmites) in addition to a matrix of living animals (ribbed mussels and other bivalves, algae), to increase biodiversity and strength and filtering ability of the shoreline.

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