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Queens Chronicle

Round and round the birdwatchers go

Almost five years after Sandy, the West Pond loop has reopened to the public

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Posted: Monday, June 5, 2017 3:19 pm

For almost five years, the West Pond loop around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Center had been closed off to the general public after it had been breached by Superstorm Sandy.

The breach not only closed off a popular birdwatching site, but drastically changed the ecosystem of the area as saltwater from Jamaica Bay flowed into the freshwater pond — causing some birds to fly away.

After years of meetings and heated exchange between federal officials and environmentalists, the National Parks Service decided to repair the breach.

That work was completed about three weeks ago and last Saturday, National Trails Day, the 2.5-mile loop was officially reopened for nature enthusiasts.

Park rangers led tours of the loop every hour on the hour — a full tour took anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on one’s pace.

While the breach is now closed, some saltwater still sits in the pond — the NPS says rainwater runoff could solve that problem over anywhere from one to four years.

The federal agency is also counting on the freshwater to revive trees in the area, which were damaged due to the saltwater.

During the work, invasive species around the loop that damaged plant and animal life were removed, leaving some bare spots on the trail.

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