From the Daily News:
IF JAMAICA Bay is restored someday to its former glory as a haven for coastal wildlife, it will be thanks in large part to an unlikely hero that some call the Voice of the Marshes.
Dan Mundy, 72, didn't have formal training as a scientist, but as a lifelong resident of Broad Channel and an avid fisherman, he knew better than anyone that something was going terribly wrong in the once-bountiful bay.
The retired city fire captain launched a grueling battle some 15 years ago to save the vanishing marshes. That effort recently yielded a landmark deal between the city and environmental watchdogs. The agreement, to be finalized in the coming weeks, will cap nitrogen discharges in the bay and upgrade wastewater treatment plants.
Mundy was looking forward to a life of leisure after he retired in the mid-1990s. But from his fishing boat he noticed troubling changes in the landscape. Once-pristine waters stewed into rank brown swamps. And the plentiful marshes along the coast were vanishing inexplicably.
"It was like a detective story," Mundy said. "I became obsessed with it after a while."
This was not the place Mundy remembered from his youth. But persuading government agencies to take action would prove a challenge. A conclusive study of marsh loss in the bay had not been performed.
By poring over water quality reports published by the city Department of Environmental Protection, Mundy made a correlation between marsh loss and high levels of nitrogen, which was coming from nearby wastewater treatment facilities.
But his discovery wasn't immediately taken seriously, in part because he lacked the credentials, he said.
"People would look at me like, 'What could you possibly know?'" Mundy recalled.
It wasn't until a decade ago - when the state Department of Environmental Conservation completed an analysis of the region's marshes - that Mundy's movement picked up steam. The study led to a blue-ribbon panel of scientists, sponsored by the National Park Service, confirming the loss of marshland.