Conservation Easements on Shooters Island

State TrusteeNew York Department of Environmental Conservation

Case Name:


United States of America

Restoration Types:



Affected DOI Resources:

Migratory Birds


Elizabeth and Bayonne



Project Description

Shooters Island is a 43-acre island located off the North Shore of Staten Island in Newark Bay. Approximately 35 acres of Shooters Island is in the state of New York, and a small portion of the northern end is in New Jersey. During colonial times, the island was used as a hunting preserve. In 1860, a small shipyard was constructed on Shooters Island and other companies soon followed, including the Shooter’s Island Petroleum Refining and Storage Company and the Townsend-Downey Shipbuilding Company. The Townsend-Downey Company built cruising and racing yachts, the most famous being the Meteor III built for Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Hundreds of spectators attended the launch of the vessel on Shooters Island in February 1902, including President Theodore Roosevelt and Prince Henry of Prussia. The Standard Shipbuilding Company acquired the island in 1915, and employed over 9,000 people to construct steel cargo ships during World War I. During that time, over 30 acres of fill were added to the island to expand the shipyard. Shipbuilding operations ceased following the war, and the island was abandoned by 1922. By 1930, numerous vessels were abandoned in the waters around Shooters Island.

Local interest in preserving the island began in the 1960s when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) proposed to remove the island to expand the shipping channel. During the 1970s, Shooters Island became an important nesting area for wading birds, including black-crowned night herons, yellow-crowned night herons, snowy egrets, great egrets, cattle egrets, and glossy ibises. Because of its importance to the "Harbor Herons", New York City acquired the section of the island within New York State. Using funds from the Exxon Bayway oil spill settlement, New York City paid the cities of Bayonne and Elizabeth $15,000 each to establish conservation easements on the New Jersey portion of the island. With the entire island protected in perpetuity, Shooters Island was transferred to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) in March 1994, and is managed as a bird sanctuary.

Restoration Land Ownership

County or Municipal

Parties Implementing Restoration

New York City Department of Parks & Recreation; New York Department of Environmental Conservation

DOI Project Representatives

Fish and Wildlife Service

Restoration Documents

Document NameDocument Date
No records to display.

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