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Learn About Eels and Oysters at the Bronx River

By Eddie Small | August 15, 2014 7:40pm
 The Bronx River will host a series of research projects on Monday, Aug. 18.
The Bronx River will host a series of research projects on Monday, Aug. 18.
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Bronx River Alliance

THE BRONX — Ever wonder about the ecosystem of the Bronx River? Now's your chance to learn about everything from its oyster and mussel populations to its water quality.

Research demonstrations, as part of "A Day in the Life of the Bronx River," will take place Monday as part of an effort to increase knowledge about the waterway's health and help people make decisions about improving it, restoring its habitats and using it recreationally.

The event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. in Shoelace Park by the canoe launch at Bronx Park and 219th Street. Demonstrations will take place along the river.

"A Day in the Life" will conclude at noon in Hunts Point Riverside Park with an overview of the activities and what was learned from them, said Maggie Greenfield, spokeswoman for the Bronx River Alliance.

"We’re hoping we can pull together some visuals of what people saw on the river," she said.

Projects will include an assessment of potential invasive plants, a survey of introduced clam populations and an examination of the effect dams have on the migration and movement of American eels.

"People are using the river for different things, so it’s good to know the condition," said Gabriela Munoz, program associate at the NY-NJ Harbor and Estuary Program. "What’s the need for additional work in terms of public access or water quality or habitat restoration?"

Government, businesses and private foundations have invested more than $180 million in the Bronx River so far to help restore the waterway and develop the Bronx River Greenway, a system of parks and trails that will run along the river in Westchester County and The Bronx. About 19 of the roughly 23 miles of the Greenway are in place now, according to the Alliance.

The Alliance, Estuary Program, Environmental Protection Agency and non-profit Rocking the Boat partnered this year to measure the river for signs of bacteria over the summer, and Columbia University was recently awarded a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation that the school is using to study green infrastructure at the Bronx River watershed, said Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson in an email.

Greenfield credited the bacteria monitoring with helping to launch the event, which is being put on by the NYC Parks Department, the Estuary Program, the Alliance and representatives from federal, state, city, university and local organizations.

Greenfield said many people still do not realize the Bronx River exists.

"This day is really sort of a snapshot of both the wealth of diversity that we have along the Bronx River as well as some of the problems we face," she said.