Historic Pole Remnants, Antenna Field to Stay in Manahawkin Marshland

Marsh Restoration Limited to WWII Shortwave Site in Berkeley
Jan 19, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

More than 100 poles and a handful of antennae sticking up across hundreds of acres of tidal marshlands to the north of Stafford Avenue in Manahawkin will remain where they are, rather than get removed, as initially hoped, as part of a $1.7 million federal project to return coastal marshes to a more natural state.

The poles are remnants of AT&T’s ship-to-shore shortwave radio communications system that was used for most of the 20th century, with a transmitting station located at Good Luck Point in Berkeley Township and a receiving station in Manahawkin.

This week, engineering firm Amec Foster Wheeler sets about removing 300-plus poles and structures at Good Luck Point.

Under the call sign WOO, the transmitting station helped broadcast Voice of America around the globe after 1944. Manahawkin was home to the WOO companion site, consisting of a receiving station and antenna field, whereby communications from ships at sea were linked to America’s telephone network.

The pole removal project is being undertaken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with funding set aside to fix and improve the refuge system after Superstorm Sandy.

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge Manager Virginia Rettig confirmed Tuesday: “We had hoped to do both the Good Luck Point and Manahawkin sites with the funding that we got. However, after we went through the plan of how to get the work done, we don’t have enough funding to do the Manahawkin site. So we’re only going to be doing the pole removal in Good Luck Point.”

“Hundreds of poles are to be removed, in addition to cables, wires, metal towers and concrete blocks,” according to the FWS. “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.”

Given its role in World War II, the historic property would have been eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, but the refuge wants to make it safer for migratory birds and enhance the habitat, leaving a few of the poles in Berkeley intact for osprey nests.

—Victoria Ford


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