I Sit And Look Out: APEC festival highlights the importance of Little Neck Bay

By Kenneth Kowald

Usually I am not much of a devotee of “days,” “weeks” and “months” celebrating something, but I make an exception now and then. I do for Estuaries Day, sponsored by the Alley Pond Environmental Center. This year’s event, the fifth annual, will take place Sept. 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water where freshwater from rivers and streams meets saltwater from the ocean. The estuary is continually reshaped by currents, tides and winds and the estuary system is one of the most productive, supporting diverse animal and plant life.

Little Neck Bay is our estuary and the APEC’s work helps protect the balance of nature and ecological integrity.

Co-sponsors of the event are the Bayside Historical Society, Bayside Marina, city Parks Department, Queens Botanical Garden and St. John’s University Environmental Studies Program. Free parking is available at the APEC on Northern Boulevard and there will be additional parking in the main parking lot of Queensborough Community College on 56th Avenue, where a free shuttle bus will take you to the event.

Financial supporters include the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The APEC festival has a number of objectives: to bring an awareness and a sense of being stewards to people that Little Neck Bay and Long Island Sound are important marine estuary ecosystems and resources; explain, describe and define the concept of estuaries and their natural resources and how and why we need to protect them; and bring together various groups in the Little Neck Bay watershed which have a stake in the health of the estuary.

Last year several dozen local organizations participated in the event. It is estimated that about 500 visitors came to see the various exhibits, enjoy a boat or canoe ride on the bay and a trolley ride to the bay, take part in children’s activities and see a turtle demonstration program and a kayak demonstration exhibit set up for families. The kayak demonstration, by the Sebago Canoe Club, will take place at the Windmill Pond at the APEC.

Two new components have been added this year: the need for pump-out equipment for boats and clean boating education and climate change education and how global warming affects the shoreline of Little Neck Bay.

Members of the New York City Audubon Society will be giving guided bird tours. Representatives from Going Coastal, an environmental nonprofit, will have information on pump-out vessels and their importance.

It will be a wonderful, informative and entertaining day — and it is free. So come early, enjoy and learn.

The APEC is at 228-06 Northern Blvd. and can be reached at 718-229-4000. Its Web site is alleypond.com.

In an exchange of e-mails with the city Department of Environmental Protection press office, I learned the DEP celebrates Estuaries Day every day, but has no plans to participate in any specific event related to National Estuaries Day, which I assume includes the APEC event.

As I wrote at the outset, I am not much of a cheerleader for a specific significant “day,” but for something so important and well-done as the Little Neck event the APEC and its co-sponsors make possible, I am glad to make an exception.

Do your best to be there. You will not regret it.

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