Wetlands cleanup set for Little Neck cove

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But that’s not quite the case, said Walter...

By Kathianne Boniello

Given that Udalls Cove is a wetlands preserve, one would think the neighborhood environmentalists who have fought more than 30 years to protect it would be lamenting the area’s recent drought conditions.

But that’s not quite the case, said Walter Mugdan, newly anointed president of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee.

“We’re actually having a better year because of the low amounts of rain,” he said.

Fewer rainstorms mean that less garbage from city streets ends up on the shores of the environmentally sensitive cove from the storm sewers which empty into the area, Mugdan said.

“We’re increasingly trying to sensitize people to the idea that clean streets mean clean waters,” he said.

Keeping the cove clean is what the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee hopes to do Saturday with its 33rd annual meeting and Shore Cleanup, which starts off at Sandhill Road in Little Neck.

Udalls 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 for birds on their way to Canada, Udalls Cove acts as an important breeding and feeding ground for several different types of birds.

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.

Mugdan said the group, which began annual cleanups of the cove in April 1970 during the nation’s first Earth Day, welcomes community help to keep the cove pristine.

“A lot of people working for an hour or two can do a lot,” he said.

Saturday’s cleanup also marks the retirement of longtime Preservation Committee President Ralph Kamhi, one of the founders of the group originally started by Douglaston environmentalist Aurora Gareiss. Gareiss died in February 2000 at the age of 91.

Last year the Preservation Committee honored Gareiss’s memory with a scholarship and environmental contest for elementary school children in Little Neck and Douglaston.

In 2002 the group is honoring nine students from PS 94 in Little Neck, PS 98 in Douglaston and St. Anastasia’s School in Douglaston for special projects about environmental conservation.

“We got a great response,” said Mugdan of this year’s contest. “There were some wonderful projects which will be on display during the cleanup.”

The winners of this year’s Aurora Gareiss Awards, who will receive bonds ranging from $50 to $200, are: Olivia Perdoch, Alas Jackson and Anthony Panuccio of PS 94; Alanna Sobel, Kayla Barry, Chris Siver, Lauren Ottolich of PS 98; and Cara Marino, Ryan Furlong, Andrew Haverlin and Katie Klaric of St. Anastasia’s.

The 33rd Annual Cove Cleanup was scheduled to be held Saturday at 10 a.m. on Sandhill Road near Aurora Pond. Lunch will be available at Memorial Field at 12:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend. it is recommended that participants bring rakes, shovels and garbage bags and wear boots and gloves.

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

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