Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 3: 4X the Power, 4X the Fun

Many firsts to report. Today, Irene and Brooklynites Rob and Kip became the first new volunteers to hit the marsh. It was my first time on the site without Tony, and Irene captured our first "disturbing shot of the day":

She also captured our first "tragic irony shot of the day":

Kip took a photo when Irene jumped in to help with one long piece:

We battled logs for four grunting hours, undoubtedly to justify tomorrow's pumpkin pie binge.

And binge we will.

My utmost gratitude to these three for giving the channel a major facelift. Once my volunteer army is assembled no marsh trash will be safe. Happy Thanksgiving.
Low 50s, wind from NW @ 13 MPH, -.1 low tide @3:30 PM, water level at 2-inch mark. Birds seen: black brant, cardinals, warblers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cleanup Day 2

Breezy was very breezy today with gusts whipping through at 52 mph. This would normally be a nuisance but it helped push the debris toward our pile. Despite the wind it was warm with a high of 62. Upon arrival we saw two black brant in the pond along with the usual yellow-rumped warblers. Here's Tony looking especially curmudgeonly on the "east pile," which comprises about a third of the wood we've extracted.

And here's the view from the Rocky Point dune. The wind had subsided by then.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cleanup Day 1

Wednesday, November 10 was my first day in the slosh. I started in the southeast pond, which at three feet (.5 fathoms) is the deepest water on the site. My maiden immersion was cut short by Tony's "heritage" waders, which were shot through with more holes than one of those deer crossing signs. I leapt out before my socks got saturated and Tony brought me my Simms waders which I guess I'll be using from now on.

Some of the larger timbers we extracted will later be used to construct an osprey platform on the site. I saw several yellow-rumped warblers (aka butterbutts), and on the beach side, a herring gull with its head buried inside a gray triggerfish. These fish are common sight around Caribbean reefs. They range north to Nova Scotia.

Finished around 5:00 PM with my fingers slightly grated from pushing logs around. Long-cuff PVC gloves next week.

The Location

By bicycle: make your way across the Marine Parkway Bridge. Exit right (the only way to exit). Make your first right into the Riis Landing. There is a bike lockup rack beside the dock.

By MTA: Take the downtown 2 or 5 train to the end of the line, Flatbush Avenue. Find the Q35 bus stop right in front of the Bank of America on Flatbush (giant Target next door makes useful landmark). Take the Rockaway-bound Q35. Pull the cord as you enter the Marine Parkway Bridge, and get off the bus at the end of the bridge.

By vehicle: point your GPS toward 20234 Rockaway Point Blvd., Breezy Point, NY. About 1/5 mile before the destination, look on your right for a crossbar nailed to the telephone pole. Park in front of the second crossbar. There will likely be a white truck parked there as well.

The Site

New York City creates about 12,000 tons of garbage daily, a portion of which ends up in the water. If it floats, the garbage drifts down the rivers and out to sea, where the Gulf Stream swirls it around like a perpetual toilet flush. But a lot of the garbage is sucked back into New York Harbor. Periodically, a big tide or winter storm vaults the floaters over a dune, where their journey ends. Rocky Point is just such a garbage trap.

Not very long ago, Rocky Point was a place where herons bobbed for killifish and fiddler crabs scuttled through the cordgrass. Where muskrats erected waterfront subdivisions and hundreds of shorebirds made their migratory pit stops, all set against the panorama of Manhattan, Coney Island, and Jamaica Bay. It’s the only tidal wetland in the Breezy Point District of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Breezy is best-known for its pristine (by New York standards) beaches and the endangered piping plover, to which the Park devotes most of its resources and personnel. Because neither humans nor plovers frequent Rocky Point, the site has been neglected. But it is still very much alive. At least twenty species of native plants are present. There’s no oil or chemical pollution. The garbage is mostly the bigger sort, like boards and polystyrene. And once the wetland is cleaned, it will be easy to keep it clean. This November, Tony Luscombe and I started the process of reviving Rocky Point marsh. This blog will be a diary of our progress.