Restore the West Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, New York.
  • Petitioning Jennifer T. Nersesian

This petition will be delivered to:

Superintendent of Gateway National Recreation Area
Jennifer T. Nersesian
Commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor
Joshua Laird
Secretary of the Interior
Sally Jewell (Secretary of the Interior) (Secretary of the Interior)

Restore the West Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, New York.

    1. Petition by

      The Birders’ Coalition for Gateway

We ask you to join the Birders’ Coalition for Gateway (New York City Audubon, New York State Ornithological Association, Linnaean Society of New York, Brooklyn Bird Club, Queens County Bird Club, Protectors of Pine Oak Woods, Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, American Littoral Society, North East Chapter, Great South Bay Audubon Society, Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society and South Shore Audubon Society) in its petition that the West Pond in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area in Queens County, New York, be restored promptly to its original freshwater state, so that its value to wildlife and the viewing public is preserved in this urban environment for current and future generations. This restoration should include:

1.Proper seasonal control of the Pond’s water level to provide adequate shoreline for  shorebirds during the spring and fall migration.
2.Ongoing scientific management and maintenance of the fresh water ecosystems.
3.Restoration and maintenance of former tern and terrapin nesting areas and butterfly meadows that provide food source such as milkweeds for Monarchs.
4.Better trail systems with reasonable access to wildlife viewing, including suitably sited boardwalks and observation platforms and/or towers.
5.Blinds for photography and observation by educational tours and other visitors.
6.Proper seasonal trail maintenance with emphasis on invasive species control.
7.Restoration planting of trees and shrubs in the storm-damaged Gardens that flank the West Pond, to recover habitat for migrant and resident land birds.
8.Interpretive signage, guided interpretation, and tours by educational groups should be encouraged, and rules that prohibit activities detrimental to the wellbeing of wildlife must be enforced.
9.Adequate refuge staffing with strong habitat management and wildlife biology credentials.

Why You Should Care.

More than a year ago, Hurricane Sandy breached the freshwater West Pond in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) located in Queens, New York City.  JBWR is part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area and is a very popular destination because of its diverse wildlife and the opportunity to see many of the 330 species of birds that have been recorded there.  Now salt water flows freely from the bay into the West Pond, and has utterly destroyed its prized freshwater ecosystem.  Before Sandy, the pond teemed with a diversity of birds and other wildlife at all seasons, but now it is virtually devoid of interesting wildlife.  The National Park Service has not acted to restore the pond and is making decisions that could potentially result in the permanent loss of this avian oasis!

The 45-acre West Pond, situated along the Atlantic flyway, was the only significant freshwater habitat in the coastal ecosystem of New York City.  It is listed as an international Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International and the National Audubon Society.

The West Pond used to be home to many breeding and migratory waterfowl and coastal birds.  Several of these species are listed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as Species of Greatest Conservation Need.  In addition, the area around the West Pond had been critical nesting habitat for the threatened Diamondback Terrapinand a great variety of butterflies and other insect life.

The NPS and Gateway National Recreation Area are considering restoration options, and there is a real risk that they will decide not to restore the West Pond at all (see The New York Times, February 10, 2014). The time for action is now.  Tell the National Park Service that you want the West Pond restored, to support freshwater habitat for birds and other wildlife.  By signing this petition, you will help to restore this local, national and international treasure.

Recent signatures


    1. Stakeholders Meeting With Gateway NPS

      A meeting with new Gateway Superintendent, Jennifer Nersesian and invited stakeholders in August was deemed productive. Attending for Gateway were, Jennifer Nersesian, Dave Taft and Doug Adamo. Among the stakeholders represented were members of the Birder's Coalition, Queens County Bird Club, Brooklyn Bird Club, NYC Audubon, New York State Ornithological Association, Linnaean Society, Jamaica Bay Eco-watchers, American Littoral Society and New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary.

      It was an interactive meeting with many participants reiterating the need for a West Pond restoration, citing the importance of having a fresh water resource. While all the Gateway representatives acknowledged the lack of fresh water resource in the city, they emphasized that a final solution would be driven by cost and resiliency.

      Additional progress reports will be provided as they become available. Please continue to support the online petition as we work towards our goal of a West Pond Restoration.

    2. Reached 6,000 signatures
    3. Author of the Shorebird Guide supports the petition.

      Kevin Karslon, another author of, The Shorebird Guide, and featured presenter and leader of the annual Jamaica Bay Shorebird Festival, has signed the petition.

    4. Reached 5,000 signatures
    5. Author of the Shorebird Guide supports the petition...

      Michael O'Brien, one of the authors of, The Shorebird Guide, has signed the petition.

    6. Reached 2,500 signatures
    7. President of The American Birders Association supports the petition.

      President of The American Birders Association, Jeff Gordon, signed the petition and shared it on the ABA Facebook page. Jeff was also gracious in allowing an article from the coalition on the West Pond issue to be published on the ABA blog. The article which was written by coalition member, Douglas Futuyma, can be accessed here

      Birder Action Needed to Restore Jamaica Bay NWR West Pond

      By Douglas Futuyma New York's famed Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) has been damaged beyond recognition. It will never again be such a wonderful resource for birds and birders unless it is repaired - and that may depend on the voice of birders everywhere.

    8. Author and illustrator, David Sibley, supports the petition.

      Famous author and illustrator, David Allen Sibley, has signed the petition and shared a personal testimony along with an illustration on his Facebook Page.

    9. Reached 2,000 signatures
    10. Margaret Atwood supports the petition.

      Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist, Margaret Atwood showed her support for the petition by signing and then tweeting to @BirdLife_News @DucksUnlimited @ARochaOntario@OntarioNature asking them to share the petition on their websites.

    11. Great South Bay Audubon Society supports the petition.

      Great South Bay Audubon Society show their support for the restoration of the West Pond by posting a link to the petition on their Facebook page. A link to the petition will be added to their website.

      Great South Bay Audubon Society - Based on the South Shore of Long Island

      Great South Bay Audubon Society advocates for the conservation of habitats for native birds and other native wildlife on Long Island.

    12. Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society supports the petition.

      Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society show their support for the restoration of the West Pond by adding a link to the petition on their website and Facebook page.

      Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society

      The Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society serving Northern Oyster Bay and Huntington Townships. The mission of HOBAS is to increase community awareness about the environment and to encourage others to enjoy and protect birds and other wildlife in their natural habitats.

    13. Reached 1,500 signatures
    14. New York State Ornithological Association supports the petition.

      New York State Ornithological Association, formerly Federation of New York State Bird Clubs

      The New York State Ornithological Association is offering an early spring presentation and field trip at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area in Sullivan County the weekend of March 29-30, 2014. On Saturday, Bashakill authorities Lance Verderame and John Haas of the Sullivan County Audubon Society will give a presentation entitled Birds of the Bashakill .

    15. The Linnaean Society of New York supports the petition.

      LSNY Conservation Committee

      Conservation Committee reports and discussions of key issues by The Linnaean Society of New York (LSNY) members will appear in the LSNY News-Letter. Important updates and notices of conservation-related meetings and events will appear on the Linnaean website.

    16. New York City Audubon supports the petition.

      New York City Audubon | Protecting Wildlife and Habitat for 30 Years

      On February 24, NYC Audubon released Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge: Restoration Recommendations for the West Pond. These recommendations are intended to provide conservation science-based guidance in the National Park Service's upcoming decision on the future of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. All concerned citizens can do their part in supporting restoration by signing this petition right now.

    17. Reached 500 signatures
    18. Some images showing the devastation of the West Pond.

      Birding Dude: Hurricane Sandy devastates the West Pond Trail at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge...

      Even as I was out yesterday "storm chasing birds", I wondered how Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge fared with Hurricane Sandy. The refuge falls just about into zone "A", which had a mandatory evacuation and although the parking lot sits on higher ground, the West Pond Trail was pretty much open to high tides and winds from the bayside or Pumpkin Channel.

    19. Reached 50 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Barbara R. Greenberg NEW YORK, NY
      • 6 days ago

      Please restore the West Pond, a treasure right in the middle of New York City.

    • Nancy Grant LK. RONKONKOMA, NY
      • 7 days ago

      The freshwater ecosystem is critical to the survival of many migrating birds and the nesting of diamondback terrapin.

    • Christa Campbell NINETY SIX, SC
      • 14 days ago

      I have personally assisted with Hurricane Sandy Relief work in the area and have seen the damage. There is a great need for the West Pond to be restored to its freshwater state.

    • Richard Veit STATEN ISLAND, NY
      • 26 days ago

      Critical habitat for migrating birds. I have birded at JBWR since 1968, and worked there while it was still a NYC Park in the summer of 1972. I helped gather over 50,000 signatures at that time (1bout 1970 I think) to prevent the expansion of JFK airport into Jamaica Bay

    • glenn schembri BROOKLYN, NY
      • 26 days ago

      A freshH20 pond adjacent to Jamaica Bay seems like an important stop along the flyway for so many birds!


    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.