Category Archives: Walk with Protectors

Spring and Summer Walk Schedule 2015

Calendar

Free Nature Walks to Pond and Park for Adults and Children Accompanied by an Adult With Experienced Naturalists—All on Staten Island!

Bring your 49ers Walk Book!

Saturday, treatment May 16, find 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Forest Restoration Workshop on the Blue and Red Trails—Meet in the Nature Center parking lot at Rockland Avenue and Brielle (700 Rockland Avenue, additional parking at the Recreation Center nearby). We will remove invasive shrubs and vines from the triangle between the Blue and Red Trails close to the Department of Parks restoration project at Rockland Avenue. Protectors will supply tools, gloves and refreshments. After a two-hour work session (our 225th monthly workshop) we will take a short walk over nearby trails. For more information call Don Recklies at 718-768-9036 or Chuck Perry at 718-667-1393.

Saturday, May 16, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.—-NEW TIME!

Conference House Park—Past and present blend in the Conference House park where history stretches back thousands of years with the seasonal occupation of the Lenape and hundreds of years with the habitation of the Dutch and English. In addition to the local history, we will observe the geology of the area and look for what the debris at the high tide line has to reveal. As the tide goes out, we’ll move into the intertidal zone to find out what sorts of living things survive in this challenging environment. It’s going to be muddy so dress appropriately. Meet at the parking lot to the left at the end of Hylan Boulevard. For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, May 17, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Crooke’s Point—Maritime sand spits such as Crooke’s Point are dynamic topographical features formed and sculpted by water and wind action. Join naturalist Paul T. Lederer in a talk and walk where the geological and human history of the site will be discussed. He will also give an update on the maritime shrub-forest restoration and the Army Corps of Engineer dredging and sand removal operations. Participants will enter the park and gather in the Great Kills Park Beach Center Parking Lot near the beginning of the dirt permit road leading out to Crooke’s Point. For more information call Paul T. Lederer at 718-987-1576.

Saturday, June 13, 12 Noon to 2 p.m.

The Intertidal Zone at the Page Avenue Beach—We’ll begin with a look at the local geology then move to examining the flotsam and jetsam accumulated at the high tide lines to see what nature’s debris has to tell us. As the water recedes with the tide, we’ll move into the intertidal zone to find out what sorts of living things survive in this challenging environment. A variety of crabs, snails, clams, worms and small fish are likely to be discovered. It’s going to be muddy so dress appropriately. Meet at the parking lot at the bottom of Page Avenue below Hylan Boulevard. For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, June 14, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Bloomingdale Woods (1975-2015)—Bloomingdale Park is 138 acres of mainly woodland on Staten Island’s South Shore. It was acquired in the 1960s to protect southern Staten Island’s natural areas from development. The park’s woods contain several species of wetland trees native to Staten Island, including swamp white oak, pin oak, sweet gum, and red maple. Protectors launched a legal battle that pitted ballfield construction against passive natural recreation/preservation that resulted in a largely scaled down version of the original plans for this South Shore park. On record, former Mayor Bloomberg made a compromise with Parks Department Commissioner Henry Stern, who also opposed the project, and Borough President Guy Molinari, who had pledged to make the park a reality. Add in wetlands mapping oversights and challenges, and you can easily see how this controversy soon became one of Protectors’ biggest issues We will meet at Maguire Avenue and Drumgoole Road West. We will explore the eastern part of the park. For more information, contact Hillel Lofaso at hillel5757@gmail.com or 718-477-0545.

Sunday, June 14, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Wolfe’s Pond Park—Containing mature upland woods, swamp forest, open marsh, ponds, and shoreline on Raritan Bay, Wolfe’s Pond is one of the most diverse parks in the city. Meet at the comfort stations at the end of the parking lot. The entrance to the parking lot is located off of Cornelia Avenue (http://goo.gl/maps/n8XBa). For more information please call John Paul Learn at 718-619-5051 or e-mail him at john.paul.learn@gmail.com.

Saturday, June 20, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Forest Restoration Workshop at the Gretta Moulton Tract in High Rock—Meet in the parking lot at High Rock Park, 200 Nevada Avenue. If you come late, walk to the first bend of the entry road and follow the Yellow Trail to the Green Trail to our working location by Manor Road where we will root out Multi-flora Rose growing along the trail. If you don’t have your own, Protectors will supply gloves and pruners (& refreshments). After a two-hour work session (our 226th monthly workshop) we will take a short walk over nearby trails. For more information call Don Recklies at 718-768-9036 or Chuck Perry at 718-667-1393.

Saturday, June 20, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Old Mill Road—We’ll stroll along the multi-use trail next to Fresh Kills, below the hills of LaTourette Golf Course and return along the Blue Trail. From the remains of colonial structures to the Hessian Spring and the remains of Ketchum’s Mill we will take a look into the influence of man and nature on the ecosystems bordering the Fresh Kills estuary. Parking is available at the end of Old Mill Road, behind St. Andrew’s Church. For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, June 28, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Discover Dragonflies with Paul T. Lederer—Dragonflies have been a part of the fauna of this planet long before dinosaurs roamed the earth. Learn about the identification, behavior and ecology of these fascinating insects. Bring binoculars if you have them. Participants will gather at the Blue Heron Park Nature Center located at 222 Poillon Avenue. For more information call Cliff Hagen at 718-313-8591.

Saturday, July 11, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Lizard Hunt / Kingfisher Pond—Italian wall Lizards released a decade or so ago have adapted well to living in the area between Richmond Town and Great Kills. Before winding our way around and through Kingfisher Park, we will look for these swift little reptiles and observe their behavior as they coexist with people by taking advantage of the environment we have created for them. Following the lizard hunt, we will explore the wetlands in Kingfisher Pond with the hopes of seeing turtles sunning on logs in the pond as well as herons and other birds carrying on their lives. Meet at the corner of Greaves Avenue and Fairfield Street behind PS 37. For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, July 12, 10 a.m. to 12 Noon

St. Francis Woodlands (1975-2015)—During the early 1990s, Protectors of Pine Oak Woods played a pivotal role in preserving the Saint Francis Woodlands. In 1993, Protectors brought together the Conventual Franciscan Friars and our State representatives to begin discussions which led to the preservation of 24 acres of woodlands atop Todt Hill for $10 million in 1995. Join Charles Perry and celebrate 40 years of Protectors of Pine Oak Woods during a walk through those woodlands and discover why Protectors worked so hard to have them preserved. Participants will meet at the intersection of Todt Hill Road and Merrick Avenue. For more information call Charles Perry at 347-254-3911.

Sunday, July 12, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Mount Loretto Unique Area—With its bluffs nestled 85 feet above sea level, Mount Loretto is home to beautiful vistas from the shore facing Prince’s Bay. The shoreline is home to some of Staten Island’s most unique natural artwork. Nestled in the meadow’s hills are a variety of plants and wildlife. Mount Loretto is a habitat for harbor seals, monarch butterflies, wild rabbits, muskrats, ospreys, and on occasion, bald eagles. Meet at the parking lot at Sharrott’s Avenue and Hylan Boulevard (http://goo.gl/maps/bIW8l). For more information please call John Paul Learn at 718-619-5051 or e-mail him at john.paul.learn@gmail.com.

Saturday, July 18, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Long Pond Park on a Summer Evening—Long Pond Park offers many opportunities to observe wildlife activities on a summer evening. During a one-and-a-half mile hike through the woodlands of Long Pond Park we will look and listen for wildlife from owls to frogs and insects. Meet by PS 6, on Page Avenue and Academy Avenue about 3 blocks northwest of Hylan Boulevard. For more information call Clay Wollney at 718-869-6327.

Sunday, July 19, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Discover Dragonflies with Paul T. Lederer—Dragonflies have been a part of the fauna of this planet long before dinosaurs roamed the earth. Learn about the identification, behavior and ecology of these fascinating insects. Bring binoculars if you have them. Participants will gather at the Blue Heron Park Nature Center located at 222 Poillon Avenue. For more information call Cliff Hagen at 718-313-8591.

Important Disclaimer—While we strive for safety, the activities of Protectors of Pine Oak Woods (“Protectors”) have certain uncontrollable hazards which each participant undertakes and for which each participant is responsible. Neither the leader nor the substitute leader is responsible in any way whatsoever for any of these hazards. All participants assume the responsibility and risks of hiking and participating in Protectors events, and release Protectors, its leaders or substitute leaders, from any liability whatsoever for any loss, damage to personal property, or injury, however caused, of any kind, nature, and description.

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It Started at High Rock

It Started at High Rock
By Hillel Lofaso

We never know why some Protectors walks attract participants and some none at all. We go on walks in all weather, according to a long-standing Protectors tradition,  and we will hike the planned route even if there are no participants. So it was that I found myself alone—but not unhappy—on a hot summer day in July for a scheduled field trip at High Rock’s Loosestrife Swamp. I knew there was a lot to do and see in these native woods,  and after waiting the customary 10 or 15 minutes for latecomers, I put away my unfilled attendance sheet, took out my pen and notepad and field guides and I headed down the path to the loop trail around the swamp.

The swamp itself was dense with vegetation, mostly arrow alum with a sprinkling of swamp rose mallow whose shades of mauve and pink peaked through the screen of green plants. My colleagues on previous walks have commented that we are seeing the fulltransition of this swamp into a bog, the next phase in its natural lifecycle. Without human intervention, in the form of increased water flow and vegetation removal, the outlook is pretty certain. Here, though, the thick vegetation is helped to grow by the inflow of nitrates and phosphorous from fertilizers in the surrounding communities.

Green frogs plashed in the water at my approach.  I walked on the boardwalk separating the main body of the swamp from a thumb of deeper, open water. Here I found a few specimens of the swamp loosestrife (or water-willow) that give the swamp its name, together with sweet pepperbush whose delicate flowers sweetened the air. I paused here to watch dragonflies busy in their courtship and territorial displays, oblivious of me. Then, I finished my circuit of the trail and headed back up to the road. Still not seeing any inquisitive latecomers, I struck out onto the yellow trail for a meandering walk to the Nature Center and home.

The yellow trail and the green Greta Moultin trail pretty much follow the same terrain north and west. The yellow trail crosses Manor here and leads eventually to Moses Mt. We usually approach Moses Mt from its southern side from Meisner and Rockland, so it was interesting to see it from this end. The view at the top is getting little more obstructed, due to the height of the shrubby trees on the steep rocky slopes, but it is still impressive. It is still hard to believe that you are in NYC proper, when you are surveying the landscape above treeline.

I made my descent and traveled south to the Meisner Dam. Upon entering the trail, I nearly stepped on a tiger swallowtail butterfly resting on the ground in front of me, perhaps looking for moisture or minerals. Here, too, the main pond, designed as a water retention system and a holding container to allow sediments to drop out, seems to be gradually closing up, filled in by pond vegetation. Even though this pond is manmade, natural processes are still at work. Don’t forget to look for the cardinal flower, which happened to be blooming in the middle of a large pool of water, its fiery red flowers seeming to light up the forest gloom.

There was a healthy flow at the spillage point at the dam as the water coursed down over rocks and boulders to exit in the slower moving Richmond Creek. I always delight in telling people how this natural-looking wetland oasis is totally manmade, the result of some heavy duty land-moving equipment and engineering design. We can surely create habitat, but can we manage it as effectively? Nature always seems to need a helping hand.

My trip took me back to the white trail, up around the Nature Center and back down to Rockland Avenue, where I continued my trek walking carefully on the boardwalk through the portion of the Great Swamp. Right before I crossed over to Willowbrook Park, I paused at the small section of remediated land, which was the mandated or voluntary tradeoff for a developer’s building well within the wetland’s boundary. So often, remediation efforts fail for lack of proper planning and oversight, but happily, this little plot has taken off with healthy populations of wildfowers and small shrubs. New York ironweed was abundant, together with goldenrod, pokeberry, joe-pye weed, amid numerous sweetgum trees. I spent some time keying the shrubs and wildflowers here and then I resumed my saunter home.

I was joined two weeks later by a nice mix of youngsters and adults on a walk that included Orbach Lake. It’s great having children on our walks, because they are so inquisitive and alert. One of our youngsters pointed out to us a black rat snake basking at the edge of the lake and another took a digital photo of an unusually large light tan frog (a tree frog?) clinging to a low tree branch.

We were also able to point out a turkey vulture soaring overhead as well as a great egret hunting at the edge of Hour Glass pond

Nature’s gifts are yours to discover. All you need is a field guide or attend one of Protectors naturalist-led walks to feel completely at ease in the Greenbelt. I hope to see you soon.

VIDEO: City Concealed: Staten Island Greenbelt

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Before we knew about the Greenbelt, we were looking for the Heyerdahl House, physician the ruins of an 1800s stone home in Bucks Hollow. Following directions found online, seek we made our way to a trailhead and proceeded to get lost in the woods. After about an hour of hiking through a forested swamp still wet in late spring, we realized that we didn’t need the house. The trails were special enough on their own. Secluded in the woods with nothing but trees in vision or earshot, we were impressed to find a place like this in New York City.

For a few months we casually sought a guide to these trails and learned that the area we hiked was part of a much larger complex of greenspace called the Greenbelt, managed by the Greenbelt Conservancy.

We returned in the fall with Greenbelt advocates Kathleen Vorwick and Dorothy Reilly to find a forest of yellows, browns, and red and a swamp dried out from the summer months. As we learned more about the area’s sites, history, and preservation efforts it became clear that much would have to be left out of the video. As the trail map on the Greenbelt Conservancy website reveals, the Greenbelt offers New Yorkers diverse sites that call to be experienced year-round.

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