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‘No clean water, no fish’: Queens kicks off Estuary Week

estuary
(Photo courtesy of Mengsi Chen)

To kickstart Estuary Week on Sept. 17, NYC Parks Department partnered with local community group Friends of Alley Pond Park (FoAPP) to highlight the importance of keeping the local Alley Creek estuary clean.

Attendees were able to join urban park rangers in canoeing, engage with nature while learning about birds and talk about how to deal with trash with the Sanitation Department. The Long Island Sound Study also offered information on why it’s necessary to take care of the entire sound which goes from the Whitestone Bridge and Throgs Neck Bridge stretching to the end of Long Island.

Tom McGlinchey, chairman of FoAPP describes it as “a group of people who have an understanding of stewardship and being able to take care of things and making sure that things improve.”

Most of Alley Pond Park is an estuary, starting from Union Turnpike flowing all the way down to Springfield Boulevard, where Alley Creek empties into Little Neck Bay. An estuary is where freshwater mixes with ocean water creating brackish water, which is slightly salty.

Due to an old sewage system, raw sewage is dumped into the lower part of the creek and many fail to realize how much littering trash can damage the system.

For 50 years, Little Neck Bay could not be used for swimming nor has it been safe to eat fish out of. The estuary is meant to filter out water before it runs into the bay which supports boating and other recreational purposes.

“Oysters can clean 50 gallons of water a day on their own. If we have water sort of suited to grow oysters, once again, because the water used to be full of some oysters, then they can contribute to the cleaning as well,” McGlinchey said.

NYC Parks Stewardship holds a number of events throughout the city, where you can sign up to take care of a park or explore local wildlife. Here at Alley Pond, it encompasses recreation and old growth forest areas that are older than George Washington which goes to show how significant it is to take care of the beauty of the park.

“I think it’s become well known that just being able to be outside on a beautiful day actually improves our outlook on life. And these opportunities are important,” McGlinchey said.

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