Open Spaces and Seals in New York? You Better Believe It

“I didn’t expect this.” That was the comment made by Andrea Ferret at the conclusion of her hike on Staten Island, one of the 140+ off-site events during New York Water Week. Ferret, in New York from France for the UN Water Conference, couldn’t believe there was such a rural coastline so close to Manhattan.

While she was surprised at what she experienced during the more than an hour-long hike in Lemon Creek Park along the southern coast of Staten Island, local residents also taking the trek were not surprised. Rather, they were proud. One such community member was Al Knutsen.

“This area is coming back. There have been a lot of programs put in place to make a big difference in our coastline and rivers,” said Knutsen.

(Source: 3EPR)

A More Natural City

Among the programs that have helped revitalize the woods, rivers, and Atlantic Ocean around Staten Island is the Freshwater Wetlands Act and the Billion Oyster Project. The Freshwater Wetlands Act has the intent to preserve, protect, and conserve freshwater wetlands, and it is working, according to Knutsen. The Billion Oyster Project has a goal to restore oyster reefs to New York Harbor.

“I learned a lot on this trip but perhaps the most interesting was the Billion Oyster Project,” said Ferret.

There is visual proof of the success of the programs. Urban Park Rangers led hikers down the beachline to a bed of rocks. Basking on those rocks on the windy afternoon were seals, enjoying the sun. Eagles soar in the Staten Island sky. Water and nature is growing stronger.

(Source: 3EPR)

Spotting Vernal Pools

There were more trails to hike and natural wonders to see further inland as part of the hike, such as vernal pools throughout the wooded areas. Vernal pools are seasonal depressional wetlands that are hotspots of life and biodiversity. Rangers showed hikers four vernal pools in less than a mile of wooded trail in Blue Heron Park.

Ferret may not have expected to see all of these natural sites when she started the hike but she was more than happy that it is true. That is the result of a commitment to water and environment, as well as a collaboration between communities and governments.

(Source: 3EPR)