New York City

Waterfront Stewards

Waterfront Stewards
Read our Forest Service report - Connecting with our waterways: an assessment of public access and stewardship in the New York - New Jersey Harbor Estuary

STEW-MAP was replicated for waterfront-focused stewardship groups in the New York Harbor area, in collaboration with the Hudson River Foundation/Harbor and Estuary Program (HRF/HEP). We found 146 civic organizations that provide a broad array of programs that help engage people with the Harbor Estuary, primarily through community organizing, public outreach, and volunteering or employment. Particularly relevant to waterfront activities, 22% of these organizations offer boating, swimming, or fishing programs. About one third conduct climate change education programs or projects critical to building social resiliency. But as with physical access, the location and the capacity of this network is not evenly distributed. This stewardship assessment identified waterfront areas with higher and lower concentrations of stewardship activity, which was then analyzed alongside data on access and community needs. This work has enabled HRF/HEP to prioritizing grant funding towards increasing public waterfront access and stewardship. To learn more, read the report.

Additional research by NYC Urban Station Fellow Johan Enqvist built upon this dataset to examine engagement by waterfront stewards in relation to sense of place through conducting in-depth interviews with 31 waterfront stewards. He found that place meanings are useful to differentiate between groups based on how they currently view the site (as a place of work, a place of home, or a place of use), and what they want to achieve for it in their stewardship efforts. some groups work to restore what the place was previously, others work to protect what it currently is, while a few work to create an entirely new identity for their place. These findings demonstrate how there can be multiple different pathways to stewardship, which cannot be understood by simply assessing the strength of place attachment alone.

Last modified: September 28, 2020