The Bronx River, New York City’s only freshwater river, flows through the center of NYBG and is buffered by the Thain Family Forest. Known as aquehung or “river of high bluffs” by the Lenape who lived and fished along it, the Bronx River is featured in the NYBG landscape by the Bronx River gorge, Stone Mill, and waterfall. As a suburban to urban river, the Bronx River has been confronted with many challenges that are being reversed through coordinated stewardship along the entire length of the river and throughout its watershed. NYBG has developed partnerships with the Bronx River Alliance, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation’s Natural Resources Group, Westchester County Parks, and Bronx River Parkway Reservation Conservancy to collaboratively improve the health of the river and engage local communities in citizen science and stewardship.
Forest volunteers and visiting school groups conduct water quality monitoring. There are two methods that are used: standard chemical water quality tests including pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, nitrate, nitrites, and turbidity and biological diversity sampling of macroinvertebrates including kicknets and leaf packs. The data collected are shared directly with the Bronx River Alliance through their online database, bronxriverwater.org.
Forest staff work to restore the riparian forest along the Bronx River banks according to the 2012 Bronx River Riparian Invasive Plant Management Plan collaboratively produced by New York City partners. Staff are also responsible for the task of clearing trash and debris from the Bronx River, hosting frequent cleanup events and collecting trash assessment data to determine what is accumulating and helping to inform advocacy groups to reduce the amount of litter in the river.
Recently, Garden staff have worked in early detection and rapid response for a new invasive plant species, Corydalis incisa or incised fumewort, along the Bronx River banks. The entire length of the river has been surveyed and infestation areas are being managed to eradicate this emerging invasive plant.
Public Programs along the Bronx River are featured during Fall Forest Weekends with canoe trips and tours. Throughout the year, the Bronx River is also featured in regular Forest tours and specialty tours such as the History of the Bronx River.