2001-05-19 / Letters

Jamaica Bay Concerns

Jamaica Bay Concerns

Dear Editor;

I am extremely alarmed that our scientists have to try to figure out why our beautiful Jamaica Bay is losing its’ marshes. The answer is very simple, and they cannot see it for the water from the bay in their eyes!

Jamaica Bay is losing its’ topsoil at an alarming rate, due to higher tides and stronger destructive currents washing the topsoil out of the bay, and it never returns.

Over the last several centuries, the ocean level was much lower than it is at present. As a result of a low ocean level, the sediment washed from the area around the bay, into the bay, and collected and built up to a great thickness. This condition gave rise to the development of the topsoil upon which the marsh and related vegetation grew. In some areas this topsoil or sediment is several feet in thickness.

Over the years, with the advent of higher tides and stronger water movement out of the bay, the marsh topsoil is being washed from the bay after tidal waters undermine the marsh. This causes a catastrophic collapse, which is triggered by a huge crack in the march behind the fallen portion. In the end, all that is left is a sandy or clayish bottom upon which the bay marsh topsoil or sediment was deposited centuries ago.

The waves from passing boats have the same effect on the marshes, especially if large, high speed vessels are going by. As many peninsula residents know, topsoil was brought to the place in order for plants, flowers and trees to grow from Edgemere to the point. Far Rockaway was the exception due to its’ highland status, but many beachfront marshes were filled in. The Southeast quadrant of Far Rockaway still contains endangered marshland by crooked creek thereat. If one studies old area maps, and Jamaica Bay charts from the Dutch and English period to present, a good lesson can be learned. Over the years, through past historical views, I have relayed this fact to all of the Wave readers, who should know it by heart.

Many readers love and use the bay, and they have seen first hand how it is washing away and dying out. Take away all the topsoil on the peninsula and what will grow on the sand being constantly washed over by tidal currents? Dredging of the bay also plays a part in it’s demise.

Some time ago I read in a geographical publication that in the earth’s past there were three interglacial or ice free periods. Everyday, we hear news of a city or some other type of construction off someone’s coastline…underwater! We are told of ocean level rise and a warming planet by scientists and officials the world over. This tells me that we may be in for a fourth interglacial period, which mankind will be helpless to stop.

So, to make a long story short, since

we will be under water, I have rented the 40th floor of the Empire State Building and applied for a state license to run a fishing station there.

In the early 1800’s, Jamaica Bay was described as one big mudflat, full of marsh islands at low tide and one navigable channel along the south side of the bay to the east. Could this be the answer to saving the bay?


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