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Annual wetlands cleanup to be held in Douglaston

The Udall’s Cove...

By Kathianne Boniello

Just as the unique wetlands of Udall’s Cove in Little Neck have been recovering from a massive oil spill over the last month a group of longtime volunteers announced their annual meeting and cleanup of the area this weekend.

The Udall’s Cove Preservation Committee has been holding annual cleanups of the cove for 32 years and this year’s event comes at a time when the environmentally sensitive wetlands are being restored after an oil spill that also covered Little Neck Bay. This year’s cleanup was slated for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Sandhill Road.

This year also marks the first “Aurora Awards,” named after longtime environmental activist and Douglaston resident Aurora Gareiss, who died last year at the age of 91. About 45 students from PS 98 in Douglaston and St. Anastasia’s on Northern Boulevard were announced as contest winners in the group’s newsletter.

Udall’s Cove is a wetlands preserve on the eastern edge of Little Neck Bay that is bordered by Douglaston on its west side, Little Neck on the east, Great Neck, L.I. on the northeastern side and Northern Boulevard in the south.

Sitting directly in the North Atlantic Flyway, which is the name of the migratory path of birds on their way to Canada, Udall’s Cove acts as an important breeding and feeding ground for several different types of birds.

Ralph Kamhi, president of the Udall’s Cove Preservation Committee who worked with Gareiss and others in the early 1970s to help protect the cove, joked in the group’s newsletter that the oil spill was God’s way of alerting young people about the environment.

“Aurora would insist that the coincidence of an oil spill with an award in her name could not have been an accident,” he said in the letter.

In fact, state and federal officials working to clean up the oil spill that was first spotted in late March traced its origin to a Bay Terrace co-op. The co-op could be forced to pay for the costs of the cleanup, which the U.S. Coast Guard said were more than $500,000.

It has been unclear whether or not the oil spill killed any birds in the cove, but the city Parks Department said mollusks and other organisms that live in the shoreline would be affected by the oil because the fuel seeps into the shore.

The Preservation Committee’s annual cleanup gives the group a chance to pick up trash and garbage thrown into the cove during the year. Rakes, shovels, boots and gloves are recommended and all are welcome to attend.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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