The iconic poles emerging from an Ocean County tidal marsh that once sent messages to deep sea ships and broadcast a government radio station will soon disappear.
But the numerous osprey nests on poles throughout the Good Luck Point site will remain, said Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Ben Wurst, whose team helped map the location of nests throughout the property.
“We did this to ensure that no nests would be removed and that those that were left were in a good viewing location for the public, which is always an important component of engaging residents and visitors in their long term conservation,” he said. “In addition, we pledged to enhance the poles that were left for ospreys so that they would be left at a manageable height for future maintenance and monitoring.”
A plan funded by the federal Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 calls for the removal of 340 wooden poles from the area at the foot of the Toms River in the Bayville section of Berkeley Township. The removal just got underway in recent days.
Crews will also remove the associated cables, wires, metal towers, and concrete blocks.
“The goal of this action is to enhance coastal marsh habitats by increasing marsh resiliency from impacts of large storm events and other ecosystem stressors,” according to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service release.
Good Luck Point is a bird migration and wintering spot along the Atlantic Flyway, according to The Trust for Public Land.
[Related: In Barnegat Bay’s Sedge Islands, ospreys reign]
Wurst, the Jersey Shore-based “osprey whisperer” and protégé of the late Pete McLain, the man credited with bringing ospreys back from the brink of extinction in New Jersey during the 1970s, said Conserve Wildlife Foundation will repair 17 nests quickly before ospreys return in five weeks without any funding from the federal government. (Wurst says anyone wishing to contribute to the foundation’s efforts can make a donation here.)
Berkeley Township, which owns the long vacant building on the site once occupied by AT&T, is seeking grant money to facilitate its demolition. Officials hope to turn the site into an observation area.
The poles are a component of inactive shortwave antenna fields associated with AT&T’s ship-to-shore shortwave communications system, which was in operation at the site from the early 1930s until 1999, according to the release.
The area also includes a shortwave transmitter building. Under the call sign “WOO,” the station helped broadcast Voice of America around the globe after 1944.
The Trust for Public Land bought 365 acres of land within area in 1999, followed by another purchase of 211 acres for inclusion within the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
The removal of more than 100 wooden poles and ancillary components from a companion site, containing a shortwave receiving station and antenna field, in Manahawkin has been postponed.
At that site, shortwave communications from ships at sea were linked to America’s telephone network from the 1930s until 1999.