Defending the Marsh
Seed by seed, a community bands together to save the lifeblood of New York's Jamaica Bay.
Turn left or right anywhere in Broad Channel, and you’ll be at the water in minutes, peering out at a green-and-aqua patchwork of smaller surrounding islands. It’s predominantly marshland that you see, sweeping across Jamaica Bay in piles of spongy peat.
Wedged between the gray runways of JFK Airport, the housing projects of the Rockaways, and the suburban calm of Howard Beach, the area is but a thin sliver of land in southeastern Queens, measuring just a mile long and four blocks wide. Of the thirteen sizable islands that lie within Jamaica Bay, Broad Channel is the only one that’s inhabited, and it’s one of the few neighborhoods in New York entirely surrounded by water.
For the roughly three thousand residents who live on “the Channel,” as it’s known, much of life revolves around the water. Kayaks and sails are stowed in driveways, while motorboats rock gently in the docks. Many of the homes, which are often spaced so closely together that neighbors can practical…