2014-03-28 / Top Stories

Petition To Fix West Pond

By Dan Guarino

Concerned citizens and environmentalists have a message for the National Park Service regarding the freshwater West Pond in Broad Channel. Put it back the way it was.

Led by the American Littoral Society, they have started a petition to press the point, which is open for all to sign at www.littoralsociety.org.

Aerial photos taken by NPS after Hurricane Sandy showed substantial damage to many of its Gateway National Recreation Area units in both New York and New Jersey.

In Broad Channel, images of the 45 acre West Pond, part of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, showed a gap in the perimeter where the storm had ripped through. The breach allowed saltwater from the bay to invade the freshwater body.

Previously the West Pond “was the only significant freshwater habitat in the coastal New York City ecosystem,” according to the Society, “and home to many breeding and migratory waterfowl, coastal birds, butterflies and the Diamondback terrapin.”

However, a February 10th, New York Times article reported that, “NPS and Gateway National Recreation Area are considering restoration options but there is risk that they will decide not to restore the West Pond at all.”

The Times story noted that “the pond was created in the 1950s to draw migratory birds…”

“Some contend that the federal government should leave it alone, citing the pond’s artificial provenance, as well as the risk of more breaches in the future with rising sea levels associated with climate change. But a growing chorus of birders and environmentalists is arguing just the opposite.”

In a recent report, New York City Audubon Society advocated for restoring at least a portion of the pond to freshwater. They state that Jamaica Bay and West Pond has over decades developed into an international destination for wildlife and bird watching.

The American Littoral Society has its Northeast Chapter headquarters in Broad Channel.

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