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By Tom Momberg

The Natural Areas Conservancy led a volunteer effort Saturday to restore the salt marsh at Alley Pond Park in Little Neck, which was damaged by debris and trash from severe weather and Hurricane Sandy.

The conservancy, which is a nonprofit organization that partners with the city Parks Department to rehabilitate areas of environmental concern, took in about two dozen volunteers from New York City and Nassau County. They cleared debris and planted over 1,000 clusters of smooth cordgrass and salt-marsh bulrush, both of which are native to the salty soil of that section of the park.

“The debris was smothering the native grasses and if left sitting on the marsh, it would eventually prevent any vegetation from growing back,” said Hunter Armstrong, a spokesman for the Conservancy. “Reduced vegetation can lead to erosion and less habitat for wildlife.”

As an inlet to the Little Neck Bay, Alley Pond Park has several wetlands over its 600 acres, both freshwater and saltwater. The salt marsh where volunteers focused their efforts is at the mouth of the bay in the northeast corner of the park near the Cross Island Parkway.

Weeks prior to Saturday’s effort, the Natural Areas Conservancy organized volunteers to remove tons of lumber that washed up from docks and pilings during major storms, filling a 20-foot dumpster.

~Tom Momberg

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