2002-04-27 / Columnists

Sprayview Sticks and Stones

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

By Environmental Reporter Bernard Blum

It was timely for the new Parks Commissioner Adrain Benepe to make a brief appearance at the last Habitat Work Group (of the NYNJ Harbor Estuary Program) meeting chaired by Marc Matsil. Under the previous Commissioner, Henry Stern, it was not possible to make the opening of Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary creeks a priority. The closed creeks retain tidal and rain water for production of swarms of mosquitoes that contain zillions of individuals. If any or all are "reincarnated souls", then how unusual is life on Earth! We just don't know. A brief life to suck nectar (the males) or to suck blood (the females to lay eggs) and so why the Almighty chose to create this nuisance of the swamps and that can spread diseases like West Nile Virus or Malaria, etc.?

It has been considered that the mosquito is a good â018indicator of swamps' and teaches people where not to live or else â018getting bitten alive' and sick as a consequence! In earlier times, this would be true but advances in technology and medicating makes this not so. So people (in an exploding populations world) may become neighbors to swamp denizens who will desire their blood.

Government gave permission to maintain the swamps and government gave permission to build homes. So what should government do?

The mosquito breeding takes place in stagnant water. Government â018skins the earth' with big machines and makes more stagnant water (ponds). The stagnant water is there because in the early 1900's big machines blocked the creeks for real estate development that never happened. Big machines can open up the creeks this year to reduce the mosquito problem.

When creeks are opened the change of tides washes out the mosquito larvae and little fish can feed on them to be eaten by bigger fish and so on for people to eat. No harmful chemicals need be sprayed nor schedules to be kept for applying chemicals or fungicides against the larvae. Such a simplicity solution.

When salty water flows into the creeks the tall reeds of blocked creeks – Phragmites – recedes and true salt marsh grasses – the Spartinas – thrive and survive deeper tidal inundations. Government – represented by the new Mayor (Michael Bloomberg) and the new Parks Commissioner with great oratorical skills could produce a â018useful miracle' by opening up the creeks finally. The brains are there with the equipment. A little funding needs to be dredged up and it's done. During Commissioner Beenpe's inspiring presentation on natural area restoration I did interject that this should include Dubos Point. His response was that he felt "lobbied" and it is appropriate that Rockaway residents (not the mosquitoes who seem to be most listened to) write in or call to lobby too for appropriate Government action to open up the creeks already. Already, already?


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