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Norton Basin Natural Resource Area

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View from Norton Basin Natural Resource Area

The 11-acre Norton Basin Natural Resource Area is located at the eastern end of the Rockaway Peninsula. The site is bounded to the west by Norton Basin, a tributary of Jamaica Bay, to the east by a new development of multi-family homes facing Bay 32nd Street' to the north by the western terminus of Healy Avenue, and to the south by Michaelis-Bayswater Park which is operated by New York City Parks.

Featured Activities



General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

More than 1,700 feet of winding trails transect the property. The primary trail route begins near Bayswater Park and runs northerly towards the terminus of Healy Avenue. The trails are somewhat primitive in nature.

***Stay Safe- Bring A Friend When Out On The Trails***


General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

View from Norton Basin Natural Resource Area

The area has become an excellent foraging ground for the American black duck, brant goose, red-tail hawk, shorebirds and many species of egret. The marsh is a protective nursery for many young fish spawned in Jamaica Bay, such as the winter flounder and fluke. Many varieties of crabs, such as the blue-claw, fiddler, and horseshoe, can also be spotted along the shoreline.

Along with incredible opportunities for nature viewing and photography, the area allows visitors to enjoy hours of hiking through the many trails or fishing from the pier.


Take Rockaway Blvd. to Bay 32nd St. and turn left onto Healy Ave. The Norton Basin Natural Resource Area entrance is located at the end of Healy Ave (40.603163°N, 73.770031°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website). All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of Norton Basin Natural Resource Area must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

For your safety and protection of the property, the following regulations are in place:

  • All state forests are carry in - carry out facilities.
  • Unauthorized cutting of live trees or new trail building is prohibited.
  • No hunting is allowed on any Region 2 NYSDEC properties.
  • Fishing is allowed in compliance with State regulations.
  • No camping is allowed.
  • Keep pets under control and on leash while other forest users are around.
  • Unauthorized use of off-road motorized vehicles is prohibited. This includes cars, trucks, ATVs, and motorcycles.

How We Manage Norton Basin Natural Resource Area

DEC is developing a recreation management plan which will describe the management activities for public recreation on these lands.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us at

In the summer of 1997 the construction phase began with planting of the marsh and wetlands within the property. To more completely restore the tidal wetlands, several important steps still needed to be completed. First of all, the bulkhead was to be removed and the majority of the fill material and soil would be excavated. Once removed, it was discovered that this material was mostly clean sand and soil with the exception of some large concrete chunks. As a result, the material was sifted to remove the concrete and then the clean sand and soil was recycled back into the land by creating a low rolling dune immediately landward of the salt marsh.

Once the excavation was completed, a one-acre area of land was created upon which salt marsh grasses and shrubs, including salt-marsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), salt-meadow hay (Spartina patens), spike grass (Distichlis spicata), and groundsel bush (Baccharis halimifolia) could be planted to help restore and protect the natural habitat, as well as provide better coverage and security for wildlife.

Within the upland areas, native and exotic grasses, along with natural stands of northern bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica), black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), and black cherry (Prunus serotina) dominate, beautifully balancing the sandy shorelines with wooded landscape.

To intensify the beauty and diversity of the habitat, the dune was established with native shrubs and trees, including beach plum (Prunus maritima), Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana), northern bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica), pitch pine (Pinus rigida), serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), and red cedar (Juniperus virginiana).

Grasses such as little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata), along with jute (coconut fiber) matting were also planted to further stabilize the face of the dune, and prevent more serious erosion from occurring in the future. Several rare sedges, including crowfoot cyperus (Cyperus schweinitzii) and silver hair grass (Aira caryophyllea), which is not native to New York City, are also thriving on top of the dune.

As a result of the wetland and dune creation and subsequent restoration, many varieties of birds, fish, and other plant and wildlife have flourished within Norton Basin Natural Resource Area.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands & Facilities

Queens County Tourism (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

More about Norton Basin Natural Resource Area:

  • Important Links
  • Links Leaving DEC's Website
  • PDF Help
  • For help with PDFs on this page, please call 718-482-4942.
  • Contact for this Page
  • NYSDEC Region 2
    Lands and Forests
    Hunter's Point Plaza
    47-40 21st Street
    Long Island City, NY 11101
    Send us an email
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