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Sep 12, 2017 9:24 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Pussy's Pond Shoreline Comes To Life In Springs

Michele Carlson led the design and construction of the storm water runoff abatement project at Pussy's Pond in Springs. Michael Wright
Sep 12, 2017 1:22 PM

The strings of colorful flags that kept hungry birds away from sprouting seeds have gradually been removed, and the picture of the newly revegetated shoreline at the edge of Pussy’s Pond on School Street in Springs has begun to take shape.

Its designers hope the effort will be a big step in restoring the health of the shallow headwaters of Accabonac Harbor.

Where the roadside was once a trampled slope of patchy grass and crumbling paved footpaths that cascaded with pollutant-laden runoff during rainstorms, it is now sprouting a dense meadow of native grasses, shrubs and trees, engineered to capture rainwater and allow the new vegetation to filter nitrogen before the rainwater flows into the creek.

Subtle depressions in the hillside, filled with grasses, guide runoff from the road along a more lazy slope, with gathering spots to stall the water’s flow and allow more time for the new root systems to lap it up, and for polluted sediment to settle into the ground.

The ducks and geese that used to flock to the slope, awaiting easy meals from humans, have been evicted—they’ve taken up residence for the time being along the opposite shore, where waterfront reeds have been removed to make for another water quality improvement project. The foundation of a new shoreline was laid into the pond, following a line that had been chipped away by erosion.

Signs painted by Springs School students, who also helped in planting the new meadows, ask people not to feed ducks. The idea is to keep the area from being trampled, and to avoid damage caused by feces from waterfowl gathering in excessive numbers at the tiny creek.

The rejuvenation of the shoreline was led by Michele Carlson, an environmental landscape designer. He said the evolution of the eastern shoreline back into a natural landscape will take years, but it is already starting to show signs of recovery after just one season of protection from humans, birds and runoff.

“You have ups and downs, but it is working,” Ms. Carlson told members of the Accabonac Harbor Protection Committee on Sunday afternoon. “It’s a living shoreline now. We’ve seen the deep roots already taking hold.”

Using aerial photos from the 1980s, Ms. Carlson re-created the outline of the former shoreline using long, snaking tubes of biodegradable mesh filled with coconut shells, which she hopes will form the foundation of the new waterfront. In the mucky gap, about 20 feet wide, between the coconuts and the existing shoreline, she planted hundreds of bulbs of native marsh grasses.

Strings of colorful flags had been strung across the meadows as they sprouted to keep birds from eating all the seeds, but there was no such deterrent for hungry local muskrats, which promptly consumed all of the bulbs of wetlands grasses that Ms. Carlson planted below the high tide line.

But in place of the decimated bulbs, Ms. Carlson said, wild marsh grasses have already begun to sprout up, extending about 4 feet out from the current shoreline.

“It’s just going to take time,” she said while surveying the site over the weekend. “Nature is doing its work.”

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