Saw Mill Creek Marsh Dike Removal and Restoration

Case Name:


United States of America

Restoration Types:

Habitat Creation; Habitat Enhancement


Affected DOI Resources:

Migratory Birds


Staten Island



Project Description

The Saw Mill Creek Marsh Preserve is a 182-acre complex of tidal salt marshes, coastal hummocks, and maritime oak forests in western Staten Island, NY. It contains the largest expanse of salt marsh along the eastern shore of the Arthur Kill, providing critical breeding habitat for saltmarsh sparrows, wintering habitat for short-eared owls and northern harriers, and foraging habitat for the "Harbor Herons", wading birds such as black-crowned night herons, great egrets, and glossy ibises that nest on islands around the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary. Using funding from the Exxon Bayway oil spill settlement, as well as a contribution from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund (NYS EPF), four acres of tidal salt marsh were restored by removing an earthen dike that had been constructed during the 1950s. The dike had impeded the natural tidal flow, increasing sedimentation and allowing invasive common reeds (Phragmites) to spread and become established. In 1998, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation's (NYC Parks) Salt Marsh Restoration Team (SMRT) removed the dike and regraded the site. The stands of Phragmites died off when the tidal regime was restored, and approximately 15,000 smooth cordgrass and 400 salt hay seedlings were planted in the footprint of the former dike. After the seedlings became mature, they assisted with the natural regeneration of the interior of the marsh. The salt marsh recovered over a five year period.

Restoration Land Ownership

County or Municipal

Parties Implementing Restoration

New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

DOI Project Representatives

Fish and Wildlife Service

Restoration Documents

Document NameDocument Date
No records to display.

Map View


New Jersey Ecological Services Field Office

4 East Jimmie Leeds Road, Suite 4, Galloway, NJ 08205 | (609) 383-3938 |

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