A CITY RUNS THROUGH IT
WORK IN A SMALL STREAM ON LONG ISLAND SOUND COULD MEAN THE RETURN OF A BEAUTIFUL NATIVE TO NEW YORK CITYLONG ISLAND SOUND STUDY AND TROUT UNLIMITED ORGANIZATIONS' GRANTS SUPPORT A YEAR OF RECORDING WATER QUALITY IN SMALL FRESHWATER SPRINGS IN ALLEY POND PARK, QUEENS >
A biologic survey of Alley Pond Creek, a tiny, spring-fed stream system contained with the Alley Creek Park near Douglaston in northeast Queens, is underway. The NYC chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) is putting grant money from the EPA's Long Island Sound Study (LISS), with additional money from its own parent organization and local members, to work in Queens. If the feasibility study confirms earlier recorded tests of the outflow and water quality, Alley Creek could become a "lab stream" for the city's schoolchildren and perhaps a model for urban stream restoration. It might even become the city address for brook trout. Welcome back, S. fontinalis.The Alley Creek system is very small example of inherited glaciated features of Long Island geology, and a reminder of the metro area's rich watershed past that has been mostly paved over (part of the stream system flows thorugh a sunken late model Toyota). The stream system is fed partly by local springs, party by ! a storm sewer system from the enarby expressways --about a thousand feet of running water and wetlands that flows into Little Neck Bay of the Long Island Sound. Still, this little coldwater stream could be a perfectly suitable place for the "brookie," the beautiful orange-and-brown speckled native trout, to make a return to New York City.
That's what the volunteer stream watchers want to find out, using electronic monitors and stream survey kits purchased with the LISS and TU funds. Since late May, they have been carefully recording acidity, flow rate, conductivity, nitrates and phosphates content, and observing the plants and in-stream invertebrate life through the summer. An interim report on the volunteers' data and the stream's potential for restoration as coldwater habitat will be presented later this fall.The volunteers' field study was launched earlier this spring with funds approved for equipment and training materials from the EPA's Long Island Sound Study, based at Cornell University, and from the national Trout Unlimited group's "Embrace-A-Stream" program, which funds coldwater stream restorations nationwide. The NYC chapter is emphasizing a careful approach to the first conservation project in its own backyard. Conservation committee chair Wayne Tusa and project director Fred Thorner are emphasizing a careful approach. Thorner grew up in Queens near Alley Creek, and his son, Eric, first suggested the idea of restoring trout to the ecosystem. > "Alley Creek is likely to be very sensitive to environmental factors; consequently, rather than immediately proposing a restoration program, we wanted to see if the Creek is suitable trout habitat," says Wayne Tusa, committee chair. "This is a very unique project --not only because trout might be restored to New York City --but also because the methods and procedures developed in this study phase could serve as models for similarly 'challenged' urban watersheds." Alley Creek is not likely to provide actual brook trout fishing, as similar waters on the north shore did the late 1890's (see attachment); but "the symbolic value would be enormous," Tuua said in the New York Times review of the project (9/12/20.)
Technical assistance to the volunteers is also being provided by the Cold Springs Hatchery and Aquarium, NYC DEP staff, and the project works under an advisory committee that includes the Alley Pond Park Corporation and other NYC government and conservation groups. The brook trout is the New York state fish.There are several intact stream that support wild populations of the Long Island strain of brook trout, and historically the fish have been present throughout Mnhattan and the North shore of the boroughs. If the brookies come back to Alley Creek, these would be the first free-swimming trout in the Big Apple in over a century.
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