This Organization Is Working To Bring Nature to the Bronx

The Bronx River Alliance works to improve the condition of the river and the communities it flows through.

The Bronx River is 23 miles long, winding from the suburbs north of New York City through the Bronx. Since the industrial revolution brought pollution to the waterway, there has been a concerted effort to clean it up. The Bronx River Alliance expanded that work at the turn of the 21st century.

The nonprofit organization works to improve the conditions of the river and the communities it flows through. It “enjoys a unique public/private partnership with the New York City Parks Department, which is a pretty unique position because we get a lot of in-kind donations, and support, and resources from the Parks Department,” Christian Murphy, Bronx River Alliance’s ecology coordinator, explained to NowThis. “That really allows us to do a lot of the work that we do on the river that otherwise would not be possible for an organization this small.”

The Bronx River Alliance offers a variety of programs for its more than 1,500 yearly volunteers to get involved. Volunteers help in a variety of ways, from picking up trash to helping with recreation programs.

Credit: NowThis

Another way people can get involved with the organization is by helping it plant native trees and plants and remove invasive species. “That's when we're cutting down weeds and other plants that come from other parts of the world that are harming our native forests here,” Murphy said. “Those volunteers are helping to make the river a cleaner place by participating in our programming.”

Among the many activities the Bronx River Alliance has to offer, one recreational program stands out the most: paddling the river. It offers the opportunity to canoe or kayak along the Bronx portion of the river. People can either choose to paddle in the upper river for a more urban experience through the Bronx River Forest, New York Botanical Garden, and part of the Bronx Zoo, or paddle the lower river for a more nature-based experience.

“It brings people in from far and wide, from out of state, from across the city,” Murphy said. “They just really want to experience this sort of space from a unique perspective. And what better way than actually from being on the water itself?”

Murphy said an easy way to help the Bronx River or your local waterway is simply to pick up after yourself and not litter. He also emphasized that getting involved politically and supporting politicians who are working to advance environmental protections can go a long way toward helping organizations like the Bronx River Alliance.