Cushman & Wakefield Help NWF Restore NYC DunesThings that take years to build can be taken down overnight; such is the case with barrier sand dunes in Gateway National Recreation Area sitting between New York City and the ocean. On October 29, 2012 Superstorm Sandy flattened miles of dunes that had been a physical protection for NYC against extreme weather.
On May 4, 2013, National Wildlife Federation and the National Park Service brought in some people who know something about buildings to help us do some building. On a sunny Saturday, 15 employee volunteers from Cushman & Wakefield, one of the biggest commercial real estate firms around, joined us to work on a dunes restoration project. Part of a series of Ranger Rick Restores Days being held throughout the tri-state region, the volunteers spent the day planting shoots of Seaside Golden Rod in rows on the beach to start a new foundation for a 1000 foot long sand dune.
Park Ranger Dan Meharg explained to the group that these plants and the dunes not only provide habitat for local wild birds but for migrating monarch butterflies that are in a state of decline due to habitat loss and the use of commercial pesticides. These vegetated sand dunes outside NYC give the monarchs a stopover safe haven that can help to build their numbers thousands of miles away.
The restoration work required kneeling in the sand and digging with seashell or one’s hand to create a place for one plant at a time. Each small plant in the sand was a building action: the foundation for new physical protection for millions of people from future weather, the start of new habitat for local wildlife and for a species moving across the hemisphere, and for each planter kneeling in the sand, the building of a new connection to nature.