Manhasset Bay

Protection Committee

Water Quality Data

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Uses and Ecological Importance

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Importance of the Bay  

Boating

Fishing and Shellfishing

Marinas and Yacht Clubs 

Wildlife

Wetlands

            Based on information contained in the Town of North Hempstead’s preliminary draft Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (Cashin, 1993), Manhasset Bay is used extensively for a variety of recreational activities that include boating, rowing, some limited swimming, water-skiing, wind surfing, jet-skiing, fishing, waterfowl hunting, shoreline walking, waterfront dining, dinner boat cruises and water taxis. The nautical character of portions of the Bay also provides aesthetically pleasing shorefront viewing. The following is a brief discussion of the uses and ecological features of the Bay based on information contained in the preliminary draft Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. 

           


Boating 

            Moorings and marinas occupy a large and prominent portion of Manhasset Bay. Recreational boating is the predominant activity with approximately 2,000 boats in the Bay either at marinas or yacht clubs or with beach associations and private moorings permitted by the Town under Chapter 42. Table 1.3-1 presents an approximate breakdown of an estimated 1,592 boats associated with a number of different boating facilities, yacht clubs and marinas. This estimate is exclusive of private moorings, private docks and visiting boats. While there are no charter fishing boats that operate in the Bay, recently water taxis have become popular as a means of boosting tourism in the Bay and the local economy. The water taxis, which run between various docks are an attempt by local businesses to make it easier for residents and visitors to move between water, land, restaurants and shops.


c
ourtesy of www.sonar.org

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Fishing and Shellfishing 

Manhasset Bay is a productive area for marine finfish with recreational fishing being a popular sport both within the Bay and in the nearby waters of the Long Island Sound. Small boats can be rented on a daily basis from a few private businesses located in the vicinity of the Town of North Hempstead Town dock. The Bay serves as a nursery and feeding area from spring through fall for striped bass, scup, bluefish, Atlantic silverside, menhaden, winter flounder, and blackfish.

 

  winter flounder  (Pseudopleorunectes americanus)    

    

The direct harvest of shellfish from Manhasset Bay has been prohibited by the State since the early 1970s due to the bacterial levels in the Bay exceeding the State’s water quality standards for shellfishing.  Degraded bacterial water quality in the Bay has existed since the 1920s and has been attributed in large part to increased development. In fact, in 1925, the State closed 2,500 acres (essentially the entire Bay) of oyster beds. The closure was due to an outbreak of typhoid that was linked to oysters that had been taken from the Bay.  These early problems were experienced in spite of the construction of a wastewater treatment plant in Port Washington almost a decade earlier.  

            In the early 1990s, the Town conducted a one time clam transplanting/relay program, in cooperation with NYSDEC, for harvest, transport and depuration. The State fisheries group has monitored the Bay for years for bacterial quality. Indications from the State are that it is unlikely to allow harvesting in the near future, because of excessive levels of coliform, particularly after rainfall.

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MARINAS AND YACHT CLUBS 

Table 1.3-1

 MARINAS AND YACHT CLUBS IN THE

MANHASSET BAY WATERSHED   


Rank


Name/Location

Estimated Number of
Moorings and Slips

1

Manhasset Bay Marina/Port Washington

285

2

Capri Marina West/Manorhaven

220

3

North Hempstead Town Dock*/Port Washington

160

4

Capri Marina East/Manorhaven

140

5

Toms Point Marina/Port Washington

135

6

Knickerbocker Yacht Club/Port Washington

120

7

Sigsbee at North Bay/Port Washington

100

8

W&W Marine White’s Marina/Port Washington

94

9

Port Washington Yacht Club/Port Washington

85

10

North Shore Yacht Club/Port Washington

80

11

Haven Marina, Inc./Port Washington

55

12

Shelter Harbor Marina/Yacht Club/Kings Point

37

13

Capri Marina at Inspiration Wharf/Port Washington

35

14

Grace Harbor Yacht Club/Kings Point

16

15

Kings Point House

12

16

Louie’s Shore Restaurant/Port Washington

11

17

Kennilworth Yacht Club/Kings Point

7

18

Broadlawn Harbor Yacht Club/Kings Point

NA

19

Manhasset Bay Yacht Club/Port Washington

NA

 

TOTAL

1,592

 

 

Based on July 1998 telephone contact.

*Public facility; all others are private.

NA = Not available

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Wildlife

According to the New York State’s Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat Rating Form, Manhasset Bay is one of five major waterfowl wintering areas (November through March) on Long Island’s north shore. Mid-winter aerial surveys of waterfowl abundance for the 10‑year period 1975 to 1984 indicate yearly average concentrations of over 1,100 birds. This includes scaup, canvasbacks and black ducks, along with mallards, Canada goose, common goldeneye, bufflehead, oldsquaw and red-breasted merganser.

 

            The tidal flats and intertidal marsh areas in the Bay support a large summer population of wading shorebirds and waterfowl including: Mute Swans; Common Egrets; Snowy Egrets; Double-crested Cormorants; Great Blue Herons; Least Sandpipers; Sanderlings; Mallards; Laughing Gulls; and Herring Gulls. The entire Manhasset Bay area has been designated by the New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat. In addition, the area is important for passive recreational use for wildlife/bird watching.

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Wetlands and Special Habitats

Wetlands are an important part of the Manhasset Bay ecosystem serving numerous functions. While there are many definitions for what constitutes wetlands, one definition is that of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USCOE, 1995) which states that wetlands are “those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adopted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas.” In recent years, the importance of the functions and values associated with wetlands have been recognized. See Table 1.3-2.

 

The degree of public interest in protecting, restoring and creating wetlands has grown significantly in the last decade to the point that today there is a heightened educational awareness of the importance of wetlands through various curricula, posters, videos, slides, magazines,

Table 1.3-2

 

FUNCTION AND VALUES OF WETLANDS*

 

Function/Value

Description

Functions:

 

Groundwater Recharge/Discharge

This function considers the potential for a wetland to serve as a groundwater recharge and/or discharge area. Recharge should relate to the potential for the wetland to contribute water to an aquifer. Discharge should relate to the potential for the wetland to serve as an area where groundwater can be discharged to the surface.

Floodflow Alteration
(Storage and Desynchronization)

This function considers the effectiveness of the wetland in reducing flood damage by attenuation of floodwaters for prolonged periods following precipitation events.

Fish and Shellfish Habitat

This function considers the effectiveness of seasonal or permanent waterbodies associated with the wetland in question for fish and shellfish habitat.

Sediment/Toxicant/Pathogen Retention

This function reduces or prevents degradation of water quality. It related to the effectiveness of the wetland as a trap for sediments, toxicants or pathogens.

Nutrient Removal/Retention/
Transformation

This function relates to the effectiveness of the wetland to prevent adverse effects of excess nutrients entering aquifers or surface waters such as ponds, lakes, streams, rivers or estuaries.

Production Export (Nutrient)

This function relates to the effectiveness of the wetland to produce food or usable products for human or other living organisms.

Sediment/Shoreline Stabilization

This function relates to the effectiveness of a wetland to stabilize stream banks and shorelines against erosion.

Wildlife Habitat

This function considers the effectiveness of the wetland to provide habitat for various types and populations of animals typically associated with wetlands and the wetland edge. Both resident and/or migrating species must be considered. Species lists of observed and potential animals should be included in the wetland assessment report.


Table 1.3-2 (continued)

 

FUNCTION AND VALUES OF WETLANDS*

 

 

Function/Value

Description

Values:

 

Recreation (Consumptive and Nonconsumptive)

This value considers the effectiveness of the wetland and associated watercourses to provide recreational opportunities such as canoeing, boating, fishing, hunting and other active or passive recreational activities. Consumptive opportunities consume or diminish the plants, animals or other resources that are intrinsic to the wetland, whereas nonconsumptive opportunities do not.

Education/Scientific Value

This value considers the effectiveness of the wetland as a site for an “outdoor classroom” or as a location for scientific study or research.

Uniqueness/Heritage

This value relates to the effectiveness of the wetland or its associated waterbodies to produce certain special values. Special values may include such things as archeological sites, unusual aesthetic quality, historical events, or unique plants, animals or geologic features, etc.

Visual Quality/Aesthetics

This value relates to the visual and aesthetic qualities of the wetland.

Threatened or Endangered Species Habitat

This value relates to the effectiveness of the wetland or associated waterbodies to support threatened or endangered species.

 

*Based on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, November 1995.


books and other documents dealing with wetlands (USEPA, 1994) including local environmental groups preparing handbooks on habitat restoration in and around Long Island Sound (Save the Sound, 1998).

 

            The United States Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) maintains a national wetlands inventory of both freshwater and marine wetlands. Figure 1.3‑1 presents a map of the freshwater and marine wetlands in Manhasset Bay and its watershed based on FWS’s 1994 map for the area, as well as those wetlands designated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. A review of this information indicates that there are numerous clusters and small patches of wetlands in the watershed. Based on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s 1994 National Wetlands Inventory by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Table 1.3‑3 indicates the wetland type found in the communities in the watershed. Except for a few isolated patches, most of the wetlands are found clustered in six general areas. These general areas are:

 

·        North and East Sheets Creek, Mill Pond and Baxter Pond

·        Leeds Pond and portions of its tributary streams

·        Whitney Pond and portions of its tributary stream

·        Twin Ponds (South Pond/Mann’s Creek)

·        Mitchell Creek and Kings Point Park

·        Kings Point Pond (Wilson’s Creek)

 

            A number of bulkheads, seawalls and revetments have been constructed along certain sections of the Bay’s shoreline. In some of these sections, the vegetated areas of intertidal wetland have been reduced to isolated patches and narrow fringes generally bordering the protected southern side of coastal structures.

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