This past Saturday we joined almost a hundred people for The Bronx River Alliance Flotilla taking us on a 5-mile paddling journey down New York City’s only freshwater river.
To say that nothing like this exists within New York City is an understatement for there truly isn’t anything like it in the five boroughs.
Starting at E 219th Street at Shoelace Park, the 5-mile adventure took us down the Bronx River, through The New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx Zoo and ended in Hunts Point’s Riverside Park with Rock The Boat. We even encountered several waterfalls along the way—yes waterfalls in The Bronx!
At many points along the river, you get a feeling that you’re no longer in The Bronx let alone New York City as you’re surrounded by nothing but trees. This is readily apparent while going through NYBG and when you enter The Bronx Zoo you feel as if you’re in some jungle as you hear the screeching of primates and other animals at the zoo.
The Flotilla is such a special event bringing together folks from all walks of life enjoying the beauty of one our best natural resources. New York City Parks Commissioner, Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP was in attendance and took the trip down with our own Nilka Martell (who better to provide a narrative on the history of the River and what’s what along the way than Nilka?) and he quickly loved the experience so much that he said it’s one of the top ten things on his list now and will be in attendance next year.
In the 40+ years since activists first got together to begin cleaning up The Bronx River, it has rebounded in a wonderful success story where not only is it the cleanest it’s been in modern times, but also wildlife has returned from beavers to fish that swim upstream to spawn via the newly installed fish ladder.
For most of the journey you could see how clear the water was but don’t be fooled: We have a long way to go before the Bronx River is fully restored. This much was evident once we got to The Bruckner and from that point south, you can see an oily sheen on the water along with garbage.
And that is the beauty of the Flotilla for it offers you the opportunity to see first hand what has been accomplished along with what still needs to be done.
I can’t stress enough how amazing this opportunity was and in many ways probably the best thing you can do in our borough and NYC. The $56K raised is specifically for just that—to reach and make canoeing available 1,000 kids and their families.
You can still donate to the Bronx River Alliance by going here.
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