Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Update – February 3, 2017

The following is from a report by Susan Elbin of New York City Audubon on the status of the restoration of the West Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Susan had spoken with Patti Rafferty of the National Park Service. Reprinted here with permission.

1. Will there be a full-time freshwater source for the pond?

There will be a freshwater source to "jump start" the pond as a one-time infusion. This will be New York City water. The pond will not be filled with freshwater, but a "substantial amount" will be added. It will take more freshwater to dilute the salt that has accumulated. There is a procedure set up to regularly check the salinity and depth of the pond. Right now there are no plans to top up the pond with freshwater.

2. Does NPS plan on completely draining whatever saltwater remains in the pond once the breach is filled?

No. Water will be drained to the level of the valve. The new valve will be installed in the filled breach area of the pond. This way they do not need to disturb additional land to install it. They will not pump additional water out of the pond. Fresh (city) water will be added. Then we wait for rain.

3. Is NPS going to do any freshwater or other new plantings around the pond and remove dead vegetation?

Yes. They will be planting and installing benches, etc., as described in the EA. But not soon. That is part of the next phase. Currently there is no money to support that work being done. There is some money, however, to design the living shoreline that is in the plan. Saltmarsh restoration is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. NPS is actively looking for partners to help raise money to do this work.

4. Is there a tentative schedule?

The breach has been closed. Now the work can continue, to build the structural base for the closure and install the valve. The only thing that would slow them down in a major way is if Red Knots show up. If they do, all work has to stop (according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

Susan Elbin of New York City Audubon