Rather than discuss access to the website I think we should cut to the
chase and consider the specifics - as far as they are knowable - of the
proposal itself. What is the plan exactly? Will it be good or bad from a
birding and wildlife perspective? Have local environmental groups been
consulted with regard to park design?
>From the posted statement the state government is working in partnership
with the National Park Service and the City of New York to create a new
407-acre state park on the north shore of Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn (Kings
Co). This includes the former Pennsylvania Avenue and Fountain Avenue
Landfills. Anyone driving or more usually crawling in bumper-to-bumper
traffic along the Belt Parkway will have passed these raised mounds, which
have been capped and planted with grasses and some trees. In the past
Rough-legged Hawks were sometimes visible hovering over the landfill or
perched on small trees and venting pipes but I don't know if that's still
true. I remember reports of things like Yellow-headed Blackbird during the
capping work when the site was very much off limits to the public.
According to the announcement "The park will feature opportunities
for biking, hiking, water-based activities such as fishing, kayaking, and
waterfront environmental education, and will include restrooms, shade
structures and concessions. With National Park Service approval, phase 1 is
expected to fully open in 2019. Later phases will include construction of a
connecting bridge between the two sites, dedicated environmental education
facilities, and an amphitheater, creating a unique and expansive cultural
and natural space for the community.
The 407-acre site, which has never been open to the public, includes the
former Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill and Fountain Avenue Landfill, which
were operated by NYC Department of Sanitation from 1956-1983 and deeded to
the National Park Service as part of Gateway National Recreation Area in
1974. In 2002, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection began a $235
million site remediation that included the installation of an impermeable
cap and below-ground barrier to support future use.
In addition, more than 1.2 million cubic yards of clean soil, up to four
feet deep, was spread across the site and more than 35,000 trees and shrubs
were planted. The addition of prairie grass and native plantings prevents
erosion and has created a diverse ecosystem of more than 400 acres of
coastal meadows, wetlands, and woodlands that have attracted local
wildlife. The full remediation and restoration of the site was completed
with significant community input in 2009."
The vision is for a natural preserve featuring 'open rolling hills' and
'3.5 miles of waterfront, connecting city and nature, and asphalt to
meadows'. From a birding perspective this sounds like a welcome increase in
the open landscape habitat, which is otherwise scarce within the city
boundaries, especially the densely urban Kings County (aka Brooklyn) but a
lot will depend on how it's managed. Hopefully the grassland will be
maintained as grassland and not allowed to revert to scrub or be converted
to sports fields or dry ski slopes. I'm guessing the park might also give
improved viewing access to the channels, mud flats, islands and tidal
marshes of the northern parts of Jamaica Bay, which are generally under
birded because of limited access. Again a boon for birders, perhaps. It
would have been helpful if a map was included in the announcement to give a
better idea of scope. Without more specifics or a map I'm left wondering if
the park includes some of the creeks that flow into the bay?
Hopefully NYSBIRDS_L subscribers living in the area will have more
information and will be giving thought to the possibilities.
Angus Wilson, New York City
NYSbirds-L List Info:
Please submit your observations to eBird: