News from the Columbia Climate School

Restoration Efforts on the Bronx River

By: Andrew Wilson

It is not everyday that one has the opportunity to see efforts to restore a major river, take water samples in the field, and refine one’s canoeing skills. Students from the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development did all three on the first field trip of the semester, exploring the Bronx River with the Bronx River Alliance. The Bronx River Alliance is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the ecosystem of the river. The organization has created educational and recreational activities for citizens in the community, in the hopes of educating people on the history of the river’s utility as a transportation route for concrete and its value as a sustainable economic resource.

Students were led on a two-mile canoe trip by education director Damien Griffen, who talked about the delicate and important ecosystem of the river, the history of human impact on the river, and what the community is doing to restore it. Students analyzed water samples from the river and learned about oyster beds that have been planted in an effort to naturally clean the river.  During the canoe trip to the river’s estuary, students also had the opportunity for an impromptu meeting with community leaders who live along the estuary in the Bronx community of Harding Park. The community leaders joined the students in their own kayaks and spoke about the history of the community and the group’s restoration efforts to improve the environmental health of the part of the river closest to their homes.   

This trip was one of two this fall for the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development. These experiences allow our students to consider career paths, to engage challenging and multifaceted sustainable development problems and solutions, and to foster an excitement for science and discovery that augments their classroom experiences. This semester’s schedule can be found here.

Andrew Wilson is an intern with the Earth Institute’s Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development and working toward a degree in the Master of Public Administration in Development Practice.

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