Coney Island students welcome spring, fortify nabe against flooding with planting project

Planting project in Coney Island brings in Spring for the nabe.
Volunteers are bringing in spring by planting native beach grasses in Coney Island.
Photo by Erica Price

Spring in Coney Island will be even prettier — and more climate-friendly – thanks to student volunteers from a neighborhood beautification program who planted beach vegetation along the shore of Coney Island Creek Park. 

The handy helpers worked with Resilient Schools and Communities to replant beach grass along Bay View between Seagate Avenue and West 33rd Street earlier this month. 

Plant experts said since the area is surrounded by water, it makes the neighborhood easily susceptible to coastal flooding and storms — which often bring sand into roadways and neighboring homes. This brings in travel and overall quality of life concerns.

plants on dunes in coney island
Vegetation can help prevent flooding and sand migration. Photo by Erica Price

But revegetating the dunes with American beach grass puts a buffer between the beach and helps to keep sand from migrating. 

RiSC, a National Wildlife Federation program, has been working in Coney Island since 2021 and has since planted 50,000 plants with more on the way, according to Emily Fano, senior manager of climate resilience education for the National Wildlife Federation.

Her team is focused on educating locals about the low-cost preventions they can install to work against negative climate impacts. 

“It’s a way to teach kids about the climate impact and what some of the solutions are. We try to empower our students to what is hopeful. They’re mostly learning about the problem but not the solutions,” Fano told Brooklyn Paper. 

native beach grasses in coney island
Hundreds of volunteers have headed down to Coney this Spring to address climate concerns. Photo by Erica Price

Close to 600 students from 24 schools across New York City have helped out at various workdays through March and April. Other volunteer groups from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, a team from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and other local partners, have lent a helping hand. 

Fano said though there’s much to be done, these residents are taking some essential steps to reinvest in their nabe. 

“It helps build infrastructure and social resilience by bringing people together to help address some of the climate impacts,” Fano said. 

(Update April 19, 2024, at 3:07 p.m): This story has been updated to provide more accurate information on RiSC and the volunteers.