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The Mast-Head: Hook Pond, Mostly Downhill

Wed, 03/31/2021 - 17:45

Regular readers of The Star’s editorial pages might have noticed that our official position with regard to the ecological importance of Hook Pond and its tributaries, notably the present mud bog known as Town Pond, is that it would be nice to restore them, but there are far higher priorities.

That thought got jostled this week, when on my way home, I stopped driving just north of the Dunemere Lane bridge as a bald eagle flew low circles no more than 20 feet overhead. A second eagle stood at the water’s edge along the Highway Behind the Pond side; it was in a moment joined by the first. I did not notice any other birds around, which might not be surprising since bald eagles are as happy to eat a duck as anything. But what else might our national bird be ingesting if it dined on a Hook Pond duck?

There is no question that Hook Pond is in rough shape. Carp have devastated its aquatic vegetation, which contributed to a significant absence of waterfowl. Freshwater fishing in it is nothing like it was in the 1970s, when my friends and I caught endless largemouth bass and perch off the Maidstone Club bridges. I would not say it was thriving, exactly. Still, it had a lot more life than it does now.

Hook Pond’s watershed explains why: It is mostly downhill everywhere in East Hampton Village. Water pooling on roads and in parking lots ends up in the pond via North Main Street, Egypt Lane, and a lot of the Maidstone Club golf course. Groundwater moves that way, too, which means that anything flushed or put down the drain could reach the pond, though with less speed than if it were rolling down the street.

Town Pond is again being deepened after a dredging project was halted when a few turtles and at least one bullfrog were found stranded there. Black muck by the bucketful gets taken out to drain, then be carried away. I have noticed that wading birds are not interested in picking through the mud, an indication that there is little there worth their while. It all seems somewhat of a waste of money, but then I think of the eagles and consider that I might be wrong.

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