Tucked away on the west side of the small town of Broad Channel in the middle of Jamiaca Bay is a narrow, dead end, street that goes by the name of West 12th Road. Those of us who live there know that the nice part about living in a small town is that when you are not quite sure what is going on, someone else always does!
[Peter J. Mahon West 12th Road, Broad Channel]
We ask you to join the Birders’ Coalition for Gateway (New York City Audubon, New York State Ornithological Association, Linnaean Society of New York, Brooklyn Bird Club, Queens County Bird Club, Protectors of Pine Oak Woods, Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and American Littoral Society, North East Chapter) in its petition that the West Pond in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area in Queens County, New York, be restored promptly to its original freshwater state, so that its value to wildlife and the viewing public is preserved in this urban environment for current and future generations. This restoration should include:
1.Proper seasonal control of the Pond’s water level to provide adequate shoreline for shorebirds during the spring and fall migration.
2.Ongoing scientific management and maintenance of the fresh water ecosystems.
3.Restoration and maintenance of former tern and terrapin nesting areas and butterfly meadows that provide food source such as milkweeds for Monarchs.
4.Better trail systems with reasonable access to wildlife viewing, including suitably sited boardwalks and observation platforms and/or towers.
5.Blinds for photography and observation by educational tours and other visitors.
6.Proper seasonal trail maintenance with emphasis on invasive species control.
7.Restoration planting of trees and shrubs in the storm-damaged Gardens that flank the West Pond, to recover habitat for migrant and resident land birds.
8.Interpretive signage, guided interpretation, and tours by educational groups should be encouraged, and rules that prohibit activities detrimental to the wellbeing of wildlife must be enforced.
9.Adequate refuge staffing with strong habitat management and wildlife biology credentials.
Why You Should Care.
More than a year ago, Hurricane Sandy breached the freshwater West Pond in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) located in Queens, New York City. JBWR is part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area and is a very popular destination because of its diverse wildlife and the opportunity to see many of the 330 species of birds that have been recorded there. Now salt water flows freely from the bay into the West Pond, and has utterly destroyed its prized freshwater ecosystem. Before Sandy, the pond teemed with a diversity of birds and other wildlife at all seasons, but now it is virtually devoid of interesting wildlife. The National Park Service has not acted to restore the pond and is making decisions that could potentially result in the permanent loss of this avian oasis!
The 45-acre West Pond, situated along the Atlantic flyway, was the only significant freshwater habitat in the coastal ecosystem of New York City. It is listed as an international Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International and the National Audubon Society.
The West Pond used to be home to many breeding and migratory waterfowl and coastal birds. Several of these species are listed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as Species of Greatest Conservation Need. In addition, the area around the West Pond had been critical nesting habitat for the threatened Diamondback Terrapinand a great variety of butterflies and other insect life.
The NPS and Gateway National Recreation Area are considering restoration options, and there is a real risk that they will decide not to restore the West Pond at all (see The New York Times, February 10, 2014). The time for action is now. Tell the National Park Service that you want the West Pond restored, to support freshwater habitat for birds and other wildlife. By signing this petition, you will help to restore this local, national and international treasure.