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Queens Chronicle

Sandy cleanup in Jamaica Bay ongoing

Marshes likely minimized damage

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 10:30 am

Like businesses and residents living and working on its shores, Jamaica Bay is also slowly creeping back to normal after taking a beating in Hurricane Sandy.

“The bay is fine,” said Don Riepe, president of the northeast chapter of the American Littoral Society. “We didn’t see any signs of wildlife damage.”

He said a lot of debris has washed up on the shores and is being cleaned up.

Dan Mundy Sr. of Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers said the marshland in the bay was undamaged.

“The restoration projects to date have survived the storm without any major damage,” he said. “That’s a big thing because if these projects had failed, there would be no sense in doing them anymore.”

Mundy added that marshes that are currently being worked on also survived.

“That will give us the ability to do the planting a few months from now,” he explained.

Mundy credited the marshland for minimizing the destruction on the shores of the bay and said the situation could have been much worse. He said without the marshes, portions of the Belt Parkway could have been washed away by waves.

Dan Hendrick, vice president of external affairs for the League of Conservation Voters, who is also working on a film on Jamaica Bay, said the marshes did not do much to prevent storm surge, but did help prevent the type of destruction that occurred on the oceanfront.

“The marshes certainly helped control the wave action,” he said.

As for the damage to East and West ponds in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, both of which breached into Jamaica Bay, the situation is improving. East Pond’s breaches were filled in to repair the subway tracks that run alongside the pond. The pipeline that controls the water levels was undamaged.

As for West Pond, the breach would likely be fixed, Riepe said, and repairs would be paid for with money from the aid bill passed by Congress this week.

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