$400K Sandstorm May Help Marsh
Tons of sand will be sucked out of Jamaica Bay and sprayed over declining marsh areas, during the next few weeks, to see if this helps grasses that experts say are being choked by rising water levels.
About 4,000 cubic yards of sediment will be dredged from the area many know as the "cow path" and will be sprayed over Big Egg Marsh. The effect will be monitored, short and long term, and scientists hope to see new growth by next summer.
Boat traffic through the cow path will be hindered by the dredging, according to Dan Mundy, the Broad Channel resident who leads EcoWatchers, a group close to the marsh issue. But the dredging will actually deepen part of the popular but shallow shortcut.
The $400,000 project is being called an important first step in the attempt to save local wetlands. In 2000, the Department of Environmental Conservation determined that about 50 acres of marsh disappear each year. At that rate, the DEC said, the marsh could erode completely by 2025.
In response, Congressman Anthony Weiner assembled a panel of scientists whose goal it is to save the marsh. This test project was their first recommendation.
Weiner, Gateway National Recreaion Area representatives and the Eco Watchers announced that work would begin this week.
At this point, there is no clear solution to the marsh problem, and the spraying is only being called a "demonstration project," by Chris Soller, Superintendent of Gateway’s Jamaica Bay Unit. Soller said a harsh winter could stifle marsh growth neutralizing the effort.
And while finding a potential solution to the problem is an achievement, Mundy and Soller agree that more investigation is needed to determine why the marsh is disappearing in the first place. Both men said the cause was likely centuries of human-induced alterations and that the most harmful changes must be pinpointed.
The cost of the restoration attempt at Big Egg is being split between a grant fund Weiner secured from the Natural Resources Protection Program and Gateway.