Just over a year since the Pussy’s Pond bridge was rebuilt and dedicated, members of the Springs community are pushing for a partial clearing of the surrounding nature preserve to restore some of the views that have been lost to an overabundance of dead trees and non-native plants.
While their first wish is to clear the dead trees from around the pond, which sits at School Street and Old Stone Highway, these Springs advocates wish to eventually clear the phragmites that have popped up and clogged the open view.
The East Hampton Town Board last Thursday, February 20, gave approval to the Town Highway Department to help clear dead brush 30 feet into the preserve as soon as possible.
Members of the Springs CAC and the Nature Preserve Committee, specifically, are celebrating the first step toward restoration.
“I’m very happy—Springs-Fireplace Road from the barns right up to the Springs Library looks terrible,” CAC Chairwoman Loring Bolger said. “Getting it cleaned out in terms of what it looks like is good for the preserve, in that it will allow new, healthy growth to come up that can’t right now.”
The next step is to get State Department of Environmental Conservation permission to clear out some of the phragmites surrounding Pussy’s Pond that do most of the view-obstructing.
According to Zachary Cohen, the chairman of the Nature Preserve Committee, it is likely the phragmites would be removed by using light mechanical machinery to pull them out and digging underneath them to remove their roots over a period of years.
Years ago, the local chapter of the East Hampton Waterfowl organization, with DEC and East Hampton Town Trustee approval, removed some phragmites, but they’ve come back, according to Heather Anderson of the Springs Library across the street. Ms. Anderson has photos of the nature preserve from the mid-20th century that show very little high vegetation and no phragmites.
“Phragmites are not native, they have no value to the wildlife, and they are aggressive and push out more valuable plantings,” Ms. Anderson said. “On the other side, where the blacksmith shop is, it was more open, but the phragmites have multiplied.”
The view of Pussy’s Pond is slowly disappearing, she said, and those who drive over the bridge on Old Stone Highway can’t see both sides of the pond anymore.
According to Mr. Cohen, Kim Shaw, the town’s director of natural resources, is working on securing a grant to fund the phragmites removal and has applied to the DEC for its permission.
“While it is unlikely that we would clear the property back to the pasture and meadow that it once was, most of the Nature Preserve Committee feels that some of the views should be reopened, especially from the School Street side of the pond toward the historic buildings,” Mr. Cohen said. For now, the committee is happy its request has been heard.
“We want to thank Councilman Fred Overton for moving this resolution forward,” Mr. Cohen added. “We want to thank Steve Lynch [the town’s highway superintendent] in advance and the Springs CAC, which took up the cause. It is good to have their backing.”