By Maureen Krudner
What do a great blue heron, Victory Boulevard, mussels anchored in mud below the high tide line and an apartment building have in common? They can all be seen from a kayak in the waterways of Fresh Kills Park. The tour, organized through NY/NJ Baykeeper and led by the NYC Parks Department, was an amazing three hour trip through the wetlands, surrounded by rolling hills of former trash, now covered with lush greenery and not a foul odor in the air. We passed a 2.1 acre wetland restoration in progress, where goats were used to clear phragmites and native wetland plantings will soon begin. We spotted an osprey nest; two babies were visible in the nest, but so was blue frayed roped and netting material. Several other birds were seen, including at least 15 snowy egrets and as a special treat, a great blue heron swooped down to grab a bite to eat.
For many years, Fresh Kills was probably the most well known location on Staten Island, housing the largest landfill in the world. In March 2001, the last barge delivered trash to the landfill and an amazing transformation began.
The New York City Parks Department now has responsibility for implementing the plan to develop the 2,200 acre park. The new Fresh Kills Park will provide many opportunities for outdoor recreation including kayaking, biking, skating and birding. The park has also been designed to accommodate cultural and educational programs. While completion of the park is expected to take 30 years, some sections are currently open and others will be opened in phases over the coming years. A Sneak Peak is scheduled for September 29, 2013. This promises to be a great event.
For more info visit: http://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/freshkills-park.