Category Archives: Current Issues

Report on Protectors Semi-Annual Meeting at the Staten Island Zoo

At Protectors Semi Annual Meeting the members and supporters of Protectors of Pine Oak Woods were greeted and updated on walks and efforts by Protectors President Cliff Hagen. The walks are listed on the Calendar of Events.

The evening included a presentation by Tod Winston of the National Audubon Society about bringing birds to your home by growing native plants. He demonstrated that with the Audubon’s Native Plant Database National Audubon Society Plants for Birds database you could find the best plants for the birds in your area. It was emphasized that by growing bird-friendly plants will attract and protect the birds while making your yard beautiful, easy to care for, and better for the environment.

Protectors First Vice President Don Recklies gave a presentation about the severely damaged Arrowwood Viburnum shrubs in our woodlands. An invasive pest, the alien leaf beetle, that has been wreaking havoc on these shrubs. Don’s presentation provided an update on our Viburnum Project and showed what Protectors has prepared for volunteers who want to protect the viburnums their woods and yards.

What’s Love Got To Do With It: Compassion in Civic Life

What’s Love Got To Do With It: Compassion in Civic Life
Thursday, January 19, 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Admission by Donation
Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor
1000 Richmond Terrace (Building A) SI, NY 10301 (Map)

Join us for a meaningful discussion with community leaders as they respond to current affairs and share their experiences using compassion in civic life.
Our moderator will be Meg Ventrudo, Executive Director of the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art and panelists include: Clifford Hagen (President, Protectors of the Pine Oak Woods), Rev. John C. Bethell (Chaplain, United States Penitentiary, Hazelton), Kamillah Hanks (President/CEO at Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership), Ken Bialin (Zen Buddhist Monk & School Principal), and Debra Feaser (Financial Advisor, Edward Jones).

Richard Buegler 10-Mile Winter Walk

Saturday, January 14, 9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Richard BueglerWinter 10-mile Greenbelt Walk – Protectors’ members are being encouraged to save the date for this iconic winter encounter with Staten Island’s woodlands, ponds, hills and vistas. The ten mile hike along the Greenbelt’s white trail brings participants in close contact with the winter woods. Dress warmly and bring lunch and beverage. We’ll meet at the Eaton Place carousel parking lot of Willowbrook Park. For more information contact Dominick Durso at (917) 478-7607, Don Recklies at (718) 768-9036 or Chuck Perry at (718) 667-1393.

Freshkills Wetlands Monitoring


In mid-August, Freshkills Park staff and interns conducted the annual monitoring of the North Park Wetland Restoration. Each year we record how the native plants are doing, whether any invasive plant species are coming back in, and what kinds of wildlife are using the restored site.

The North Park Wetland Restoration was completed in 2013 and encompasses 1.8 acres in the northeast corner of North Park, along Main Creek and next to the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge. The site had previously been overrun with Phragmites australis, an invasive reed. As part of the restoration efforts, goats were used to clear the invasive plants, and the land was re-sloped to match the nearby wetland shoreline elevations. A native plant palette of both low marsh and high marsh species was then planted.

We’ve been able to show that the native plantings are thriving, and important wildlife are using the site. For example, this year we spotted muskrat burrows and wading birds, and in past years we’ve seen evidence of diamondback terrapin turtles.

There are permanent transects established at the site, which ensures that we’re making accurate comparisons from year to year of the same areas. We stretch a measuring tape from the shoreline up to permanent stakes that mark the transects, and then use a quadrat (which is basically a PVC square of a set size) at locations along the transect to take measurements within it. These measurements include variables such as stem height, plant species present, percentage of ground cover, and any signs of wildlife.  From these measurements we can make comparisons to previous years and observe how the restoration plantings are faring and how the site is changing over time.

This year’s environmental monitoring interns were Jocelyn Zorn and Josephine Hill-James. Each year, our environmental monitoring interns really help us out by assisting during the actual monitoring, analyzing the results, and writing up the report. We’re lucky to have this assistance in continuing to monitor this restoration at Freshkills Park.

It’s important to assess how wetland restorations such as this one are performing in the years following the restoration work. Otherwise, it’s hard to be sure which techniques are really working and which aren’t. It’s also important to see if something isn’t working so that we can take mitigating action, like removing Phragmites australis that may be moving back in. Wetland habitats are crucial for flood control, water filtration, and for a host of species that rely on them for their habitat. We are working to preserve the wetland areas that we have, and to figure out ways to make them more resilient and productive habitats.

The restoration itself was funded by a grant from the New York Department of State’s Office of Coastal, Local Government & Community Sustainability, as part of the Environmental Protection Fund.

Results of the planning meeting for Freshkills Park


Community visioning for South Park at Freshkills Park has begun. This section of the park will receive $30 million through New York City’s Anchor Parks program to provide new access and amenities, and visioning is the first step in developing a plan for what will be constructed. In spite of torrential rain, 80 people attended the November 30 visioning session at the Jewish Community Center in Staten Island to learn about the initiative and discuss their ideas for South Park.

The Anchor Parks program is a major investment in five large, diverse parks across the city. One park in each borough – St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn, Freshkills Park in Staten Island, Astoria Park in Queens, and Highbridge Park in Manhattan – will receive funding for major capital advancements. This fall, NYC Parks has scheduled meetings in communities closest to each Anchor Park to get input on what they would like to see in these areas.

At the November 30th meeting, Staten Island Borough Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone welcomed everyone and introduced Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, who provided remarks about the impact this initiative will have on communities surrounding South Park. Deputy Borough President Ed Burke was also present and talked about the importance of active recreation. Adrian Smith, Staten Island Team Leader for the Capital Projects Division, gave a presentation about the project and shared possible sites within South Park to build new amenities. Smith also explained some of the environmental and regulatory issues that were considered as part of the site and amenity selection process. For example, because Freshkills Park is being built on a former landfill, landfill safety features must remain untouched. The new park should connect to Owl Hollow Soccer Fields and its design should take into consideration traffic on Arthur Kill Road and Arden Avenue, as well as any potential effects on adjacent neighborhoods, such as traffic or excess light.


After the presentation, small groups of community members worked with facilitators, note takers, and maps to discuss what they would like to see at the project site. Many people indicated they would like to see multipurpose trails for running, hiking, and biking that connect with Owl Hollow Soccer Fields and nearby trails. There was also a high level of support for softball and cricket fields. A number of participants wanted to see gathering spaces for people of all ages, such as an amphitheater or sitting areas along the pathways. Safety was a big concern, and many people voiced an interest in having new park areas developed farther away from the traffic on Arden Avenue and Arthur Kill Road. Parking lots and a comfort station were also big priorities.

If you didn’t make it to the meeting or if you would like to submit additional comments, you can share your thoughts online until December 14. Visit Comments from the community will be submitted to landscape architects Starr Whitehouse, and another meeting will be scheduled this winter for the public to review the conceptual plan.

Thanks to Deputy Borough President Ed Burke, Congressman Donovan Representative Pat Ryan, Council Member Matteo Representative Rose Kourani, Council Member Borelli Representative Michelle Landi, and Assembly Member Castorina Representative Rick Livan for attending and showing support for the project.

Still time to share your ideas about Freshkills


Freshkills Park Construction

This is a tentative project. Not all proposed projects will become active projects. To learn more about proposed projects, visit our How We Build Parks page.

Share Your Input: Freshkills-South Park Reconstruction

Share Your Ideas. Help us design and build great parks! We are taking online input on this project until 12/14/2016.

Freshkills Park will receive $30 million of investment to spend on your priorities at South Park. Please share your vision for this area of Freshkills Park.

Share Your Thoughts


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