Protectors of Pine Oak Woods · Latest on Crooks Point





Lisa Pillarella’s November 21, 2011 letter to members of Protectors


The following articles have appeared in the Advance.  You can read them on SILive:


  Sunday, November 13,2011 Hillel Lofaso’s Op Ed, Protectors is trying to save Crooke’s Point from a bad plan.


  Wednesday, November 9, 2011  South Shore only,  in paper:  Questions a-plenty regarding shore-front restoration on SILive title was Public hearing regarding how to eliminate invasive species at Crooke’s Point.


   Saturday, October 29, 2011  Editorial  Fighting for phragmites?


    Friday, October 28, 2011  Feds can’t see the forest for the trees, Islanders say.


  Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and other environmentalists have been pressuring the National Park Service (NPS) and the NYC Parks’ Dept. Natural Resources Group (NRG)  to avoid the use of toxic herbicides and ‘mechanical equipment’ (bulldozers, bobcats) in removing vegetation and roots at Crooke’s Point, Great Kills Park, Gateway National Recreation Area.  The original plan was to clear five 4-5

  acre sections of Crooke’s Point over a period of five years.  A pilot project, slated for as early as this Winter, is still planned.  This is despite the vigorous objections of six environmentalists at six three hour meetings with NPS which have been held.


 The worry is that herbicides will filter into the sand affecting fishing, shell-fishing, and crabbing. Herbicides can also drift to the special plants on the Oceanside part of Crooke’s Point, poisoning Seaside Goldrenrod and Bayberry which Monarch Butterflies and birds depend upon for refueling, rest and shelter as they migrate along the East Coast on the Atlantic Migratory Flyway.


  YOU CAN HELP by writing to, being sure to include your full name, address and telephone number. Your address and phone number will not be published.


 Check our website later in the week for further actions you can take.  Visit Crooke’s Point on the outer edge of Great Kills Harbor, past Nichols Marina to see what a Seaside nature area looks like.  This area has almost no phragmites! It’s a gem!


                                                                               Ellen Pratt


Assault on Crooke’s Point
By Ellen Pratt


Last January, a group of naturalists asked me to join them to resist the planned destruction of most of the vegetation at Crooke’s Point. Ed Johnson, Director of Science at the Staten Island Museum; Ray Matarazzo and Paul Lederer, Museum Volunteer Research Associates; Seth Wollney, educator at the Museum; Richard Lynch, President of the Sweet Bay Magnolia Conservancy; and Tom Coleman, fisherman and environmentalist, had learned of an unpublicized effort, led by the NYC Parks Department Natural Resources Group (NRG) and the National Park Service (NPS), to clear invasive vegetation on 25 acres of Crooke’s Point at the Great Kills Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area in order to plant trees as part of the Mayor’s Million Trees Project.

Crooke’s Point is a triangle-shaped sandy soils spit of land which forms the outer edge of Great Kills Harbor. Many migrating and breeding birds and butterflies use this fragile site (with its tangle of invasive vines which the birds themselves have planted) as a key resource for food and shelter.

Ospreys breed offshore and hummingbirds nest at Crooke’s Point. Monarch Butterflies by the hundreds of thousands migrate southward along Crooke’s Point. The Point functions as an arrival and departure point along the Atlantic Migratory Flyway – the only jumping off point on Staten Island besides Conference House Park. Its function can be compared to Cape May in southern New Jersey.

Our group has had two three-hour-long meetings and a site visit with NPS and NRG, joined by Emily Loffredo of NYC Audubon, which is also opposed to the project. We have written a statement of our concerns, explaining why Crooke’s Point is a very unsuitable, likely-to-fail site and that the project is certain to negatively affect wildlife. Previous efforts to plant trees on a smaller scale at Crooke’s Point have failed. Our group has suggested that trees be planted in the northern part of the Great Kills Unit of Gateway, removing phragmites to make way for them.

A year-long entitation study of the vegetation at Crooke’s Point and a year-long study of wildlife has been discussed as necessary steps prior to any action being taken. It is not clear whether these studies will be implemented.

Despite all efforts and discussions to date, the plan is to go ahead with the project over a period of seven years, using herbicides Garlon 4 and/or Accord Concentrate in an effort to kill all vegetation, and bulldozing dead vegetation into mounds. Dow Chemical, the manufacturer of Garlon 4, states the herbicide must not be used near wetlands. The potential problems of herbicide drift when spraying, and leaching of toxics into the water table and into the Harbor and surrounding waters, affects fish, fishing and crabbing. Seals have also been mentioned as potentially harmed.

Also under consideration is the effort to make this a restoration project by replacing invasive vines such as honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet, poison ivy and porcelain berry with native trees, shrubs and plants. NRG has proposed a 2.5 acre pilot project.

Protectors and the Staten Island Museum will cosponsor a forum at our semi-annual meeting in late October involving experts from all sides to help us decide what project, if any, will be undertaken at Crooke’s Point.

—Ellen Pratt

Hardcopy in Protectors of Pine Oak Woods Bulletin, Winter 2010

Cover of PPOW Fall 2011 Newsletter

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