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Floating Wetlands Will Return

Thu, 04/13/2023 - 10:52
Fort Pond’s floating wetlands in 2021.
Zoe Lubetkin

The Long Island Community Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to Concerned Citizens of Montauk to install floating wetlands again in Fort Pond, an effort through which the group has been able to mitigate the harmful blue-green algal blooms that have beset the pond in recent years.

This year’s project, for which C.C.O.M. seeks volunteers for planting and installation on May 20, will be the third consecutive year the organization will install the mats of floating vegetation. The plants take in nutrients in the water that would otherwise have been used by algae to reproduce, resulting in a toxic bloom.

The program has delivered results: Since it began, the length of the annual algal blooms in the pond has decreased by more than 80 percent, according to the group. The wetlands installations also provide habitat for wildlife including fish and birds. Freshwater bryozoans — microscopic aquatic invertebrates that live in colonies and can filter algae from the water — were also found attached to mats last year.

“We are thrilled that the Long Island Community Foundation has joined the fight to help restore Fort Pond,” Laura Tooman, C.C.O.M.’s president, said in a statement on Tuesday. “This grassroots effort is the epitome of what a community-led environmental organization should achieve — creating educated, involved, and passionate environmental stewards while making measurable environmental improvements.”

C.C.O.M. will also host its annual Great Montauk Cleanup on April 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants have been asked to meet at the group’s office at 6 South Elmwood Ave., take or pick up a reusable sack and gloves, and go to their favorite part of the hamlet to pick up litter and other refuse. The Montauk Brewing Company will offer a free drink to participants over 21. Registration is not required. The rain date is April 23.

On May 20, C.C.O.M. staff and volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. at the Fort Pond boat ramp on South Erie Avenue for the installation, which will comprise more than 3,000 square feet of floating mats filled with 7,200 native plants. Those interested in volunteering have been asked to send an email to [email protected], and to take gloves and waders. Lunch will be provided.

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