Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 17: Supermoon and Jesus Converge on Marsh

Last Friday, Jamaica Bay Guardian Don Riepe rang to say he'd received a call from the Church of God based in New Jersey. They had 100 volunteers looking for a NYC location in need of cleaning. He nominated the marsh and wanted to know if I could be there. Sunday morning I frantically scouted the site to assess how best to command God's army. The supermoon tide had completely flooded the marsh. Where would I get the extra waders? Where would they pile the debris? There was no time to consider this trivia, because when I turned around there they were. Not 100, but 200 of them.

They were undoubtedly the most gracious, compassionate and spirited group of teenagers I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Before any of us had a chance to give marshing orders they attacked with the full fury of the Lord. Instinctively and methodically they shuttled loads from bank to roadside like so many leaf-cutter ants. They toiled with such zeal as to lead one to believe they were paid by the splinter. I took ten (that's how many waders we had) into the wet and hauled out massive logs I previously thought unmovable without the use of a dozen water buffalo. In two hours the group cleared away what took me five months to excavate.

I extend my sincerest gratitude to the 200 Church of God volunteers who joined us Sunday (btw, as soon as they'd finished with the marsh they went to clean up after the NYC half-marathon.) I hope they'll return someday to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Don plans to mobilize another 100 volunteers in April to move the unusable wood and garbage from the roadside to dumpsters. It is very possible that this marsh will be cleaned up by summer. I'm already feeling the pre-partum depression.

In other news: Andrew Baksh of BirdingDude took the last two wood duck boxes to install in Van Cortlandt Park. Camera trapping was excellent this past week. We added another undetermined-gender cat we'll call Daryl. That makes four ferals I've caught.

I post this last photo as a size comparison between the three most active marsh dwellers. The raccoon appears to be on synthol. Now that my woodpile backdrop has been removed I'll have to find another cam trapping spot.

Volunteer photos courtesy Don Riepe

High of 47, average wind E @ 10 MPH, 6.2 high tide @ 08:50 AM, water level unrecorded; all marsh flooded.
Birds seen in marsh: mallard
Birds seen in bay: black duck, black brant, red breasted merganser, grebe
Camera trap activity since 3/12: possum 2 nights; 2 raccoons 1 night; 3 cats: (Drew) 4 nights, (Cameron) 1 day, (Daryl) 2 nights; 3 humans on 1 day

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