ABSTRACT

Swanson, R.L.; Giglio, K.W., and Chi, L., 2021. Restoring a degraded, sentinel New England salt marsh to mid-20th century conditions (Flax Pond, New York, U.S.A.). Journal of Coastal Research, 37(5), 993–1011. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

Flax Pond, located between Crane Neck and Old Field Point on the north shore of Long Island, is designated as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and as a Scenic Recreational Reserve by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The pond's tidal prism has been reduced about 18% over the past half-century as its inlet has shoaled and its tidal range diminished 33%, 0.6 m, all in low water. Reduced flushing has led to loss of wetlands, reduced water quality, increased pond salinity, and nighttime summertime hypoxia with concomitant reduction in pH. Historic charts, topographic surveys, and vertical aerial photographs were used to study the evolution of the pond's inlet from Long Island Sound (LIS). Tide, tidal current, and water quality observations were made and/or historical measurements were acquired at these locations: the pond's inlet, a proposed seawater intake for the Flax Pond Marine Laboratory, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) water quality station some 650 m into the pond. The flux of water through the inlet from LIS and the change in bed slope through the pond inlet were measured. USGS data within the pond were used to determine when hypoxic conditions are likely to occur: an increase in bottom-water salinity of 2.1 in 9 years and in the elevation of low water of 18 mm y–1 from 2008–14. The environmental benefits of reconfiguring the inlet to increase the tidal prism to that of the 1970s were explored. This would reduce the existing flushing time by more than 50%. The design of the cross-sectional shape for the inlet is based on this tidal prism and a compatible depth entering LIS; it should stabilize the inlet opening and improve much needed pond flushing.

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