The Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy (UDEC) is a not for profit environmental & cultural organization committed to active participation in restoration, revitalization, restoration, and protection. In addition, UDEC is committed to public education for our coastal resources with a special focus on the urban estuary, its watershed and the community that lives, learns, works, and play in and along its shore. The UDEC focuses on urban youth in the inner city and the challenges they face due to increased urbanization and decreasing clean, green spaces.
For Halloween 2008, UDEC held a special bird event: Ludger Balan writes: “For Halloween last we introduced students in our program at the Harlem River Ecology Center to a live owl encounter demonstration and education program which became their inspiration for creating these fun interpretive masks.”
Because the UDEC operates a site both upstream and downstream of the urban estuary,the 2008 Urban Birds workshop encompassed a program at both of these locations.
The first event was held at the Harlem River Ecology Center and incorporated a guest presenter with wildlife demonstration, an arts and crafts project and an outdoor survey.
The survey portion of the activity followed with a follow-up action plan that entails the planting of a donated berry tree and seed sunflowers in the front garden which is located at the front entry of UDEC’s urban nature center. During this segment of the program, UDEC distributed seeds and provided training for participants to follow suit and plant seeds. The program was offered as weekend family activity and offered as a workshop activity within their school field trip program.
The second event at Gowanus/Red Hook South Brooklyn Harbor followed suit with the same format, except that, for the outdoor survey, they incorporated an on-water eco-cruise along one of our project sites in that area, the historic and notorious Gowanus Canal, Gowanus Bay and Erie basin section, Fresh Creek Jamaica Bay or Coney Island Creek/Dreiyer Offerman Salt Marsh. The data collection took place on water, aboard their unique 32ft Indian Shipping canoe that comfortably and safely accommodates 21 paddlers.
The program focused both on upland birds as well as aquatic birds known to visit or reside on these sites. This activity serviced many goals as this is also one way to have the community become better informed about the significance of an ecological restoration of any of these waterways, a concept which is at the forefront of a debate in the community.
The Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy has been a leading institution in educating the public and raising awareness for the ecological to these waterways, since our inception in 1998 and on-going.
The advantage of having both an upstream and downstream site along the urban estuary, affords them a unique opportunity to connect communities by water, while offering a wonderful resource to better understanding the dynamics of the urban estuary and its interconnectivity with many neighborhoods and regions.