The iconic poles emerging from the tidal marshes in Bayville’s Good Luck Point may soon disappear if a federal plan clears a historic preservation hurdle.
A plan funded by the federal Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 calls for the removal of hundreds of poles along with cables, wires, metal towers, and concrete blocks that sit within Barnegat Bay marshlands at the foot of the Toms River.
“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.
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 sites from the early 1930s until 1999, according to the release.
The area also includes a shortwave transmitter building and antenna field. Under the call sign “WOO,” the station helped broadcast Voice of America around the globe after 1944 and enabled communication with ships at sea throughout the twentieth century.
Berekely Township owns the shuttered building, while the poles in antenna field are within the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.
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.
Good Luck Point is a bird migration and wintering spot along the Atlantic Flyway, according to The Trust for Public Land.
The federal government also seeks to remove poles and ancillary components from a companion site, containing a shortwave receiving station and antenna field, in Manahawkin. At that site, shortwave communications from ships at sea were linked to America’s telephone network from the 1930s until 1999.
But the project is in conflict with federal historic preservation regulations, according to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
“Because both of the historic properties represent well-preserved examples of nationally significant shortwave facilities, they have been determined eligible for National Register listing. Consequently, the proposed removal of poles from the antenna fields will cause an adverse effect under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act,” the government release said.
Planners are currently devising a mitigation program is being developed in consultation with the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office.
In accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sought public comment on the anticipated adverse effect until last month.
Learn more about the Good Luck Point site here.