As habitat is restored in Freshkills Park, many animal species have already returned to the site, including foxes, turtles, egrets, rabbits, deer, and, as of recently, a coyote. In fact, coyotes are becoming increasingly prevalent in urbanized areas across the U.S., leading to conflicts over how to handle these wild animals when they come into contact with humans.
Coyotes find suburban areas particularly attractive for the abundant availability of food sources, including pet food, human food scraps, fruit trees, rodents, and even small pets. An article in the New York Times today highlights the difficulties that can arise in coexisting with these large predators. However, the article also noted the proactive approach that Denver has taken to prevent and safely manage conflicts with coyotes.
Founded in 2008, Project Coyote works with communities to develop “coexistence plans” that focus on strategic hazing, or training residents, animal control officers and parks staff to use consistent and persistent deterrents like loud noises, water spraying, bright lights, throwing objects, shouting and chasing coyotes.
Denver adopted a hazing-based management plan three years ago, sending out teams, for example, to scare off coyotes that had taken to trotting after joggers in a public park. And according to a case study prepared by wildlife specialists with the Humane Society and Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department, officials report that hazing has successfully reversed “aggressive and undesirable behaviors in coyote family groups and solitary coyotes, reducing pet attacks in neighborhoods and reducing the overall number of complaints from residents.”
In Denver, the killing of coyotes was reserved as a last resort — an action to be taken only in response to human attacks — but no lethal control has been used since the hazing program began in 2009. According to the case study, “one of the novel and cost-savings aspects of the program is its hands-on and empowering nature — it gives local residents the ability and confidence to address coyote conflicts in their own backyards, without outside help.” Similar programs are being developed or put into effect around the country.
Hopefully, the coyote spotted at Freshkills Park will be content to have the whole the park to himself for the time being, but the Denver example shows that education and local empowerment can play an important role in learning to live with urban coyotes.
(via New York Times)
There are three great events coming up this month related to Freshkills Park.
The first is the opening of a new exhibit, From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012, on the history of Staten Island at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit opens to the public on Thursday, September 13th and will be on display through January 21st. The story behind the creation of the Fresh Kills Landfill and subsequent redevelopment into Freshkills Park is featured prominently. As the exhibition description states:
Through maps, photographs, newspapers, government documents, and original artifacts, visitors will encounter Staten Island’s historical transformation and its changing roles as a farming center, as a rural retreat, as the site of rapidly residential communities, as a center for industry, and as an increasingly dense urban environment. From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012 will also enable visitors to explore current debates about land preservation, environmental sustainability, and redevelopment on the island…
Also upcoming on Thursday, September 20th is a screening, hosted by Staten Island Borough President Molinaro, of a new documentary about the transformation of the Fresh Kills site entitled The Freshkills Story. The screening is free and open to the public and will take place at 7 pm at the historic St. George Theater on Staten Island (doors open at 6:30). The film will be followed by a panel discussion with individuals who have been involved in the life of the site, including Freshkills Park Administrator Eloise Hirsh.
The one-hour documentary includes footage from when Fresh Kills was operational, details the fight led by Staten Island residents and government leaders to close the landfill, and showcases the future of what will be Staten Island’s largest park, including active and passive recreation opportunities, wind and solar energy facilities, and roadways open to the public. (View the Trailer for The Freshkills Story)
And, of course, don’t forget about this year’s Sneak Peak! It’s happening on Sunday, September 23rd, from 11 am to 4 pm and will be a great opportunity to see the incredible transformation of the park in person. There’s going to be a lot to see and plenty of family-friendly activities including kayaking, biking, nature walks, kite flying, workshops, and much more. For more information please visit the Sneak Peak website at www.nyc.gov/sneakpeak. We look forward to seeing everyone there!
This past weekend, Freshkills Park hosted two lively sets of visitors. On Saturday, Pack 118 of the Staten Island Boys of Scouts of America, explored the South and North Mounds of the park. This curious group of young Staten Islanders learned about the myriad of wildlife and plant species that make their home at Freshkills Park, as well as the history of the landfill and master plan. Many thanks to the pack members who have also visited Freshkills Park previously to take good care of some of the trees planted on site as part of the Million Trees NYC program.
Sunday was a glorious day for taking in Freshkills Park from the water. An intrepid group of 20 kayakers from Staten Island were led by the Freshkills Park team and volunteers from Kayak Staten Island, and paddled along the Main Creek. It was prime time for birdwatching as the kayakers saw an osprey dive for fish right next to the boats! Blue Herons and Egrets dotted the shoreline, as terns and gulls flew overhead joining the paddlers in enjoying the beautiful scenery along the Fresh Kill waterways and wetland.
Tours of Freshkills Park are free and open to the public by appointment only. If you would like to schedule a group tour please contact Michael Callery at email@example.com. Stay tuned for more exciting public tour announcements and news on our annual preview event Sneak Peak at Freshkills Park which will take place on Sunday, September 23.
If you, like us, are currently immersed in the London 2012 Summer Olympics, it is fascinating to imagine if the games were instead taking place in our own backyard… More specifically at Freshkills Park!
As WNYC has reminded us, during New York City’s bid for the Olympics back in 2005, Staten Island and Freshkills Park were featured as a prominent site for large scale sporting events. The park itself would have hosted the Staten Island Olympic Cycling Center where the BMX and Mountain biking events would have taken place. While the rest of the borough was set to become home to the Greenbelt Equestrian Center, Fort Wadsworth Road Cycling Course Cycling and Richmond Olympic Softball Stadium. Thankfully both horseback riding and biking will eventually be offered on the island as part of the Freshkills Park master plan.
Despite losing out to London, New York City has still gone forward with several Olympics’ related infrastructure and venue plans. For instance, the proposed gymnastics arena, has been built instead as the Brooklyn Nets Stadium at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. WNYC has also produced a fascinating interactive feature which depicts all the proposed Olympic sites throughout the rest of the city.
A few days ago, an adorable baby goat joined the herd that’s spending the summer at Freshkills Park. The small kid spent her first few days of life enjoying a restful and shady corner of the park surrounded by tall grasses, before, as their devoted herder Larry Cihanek had planned, she and her mom were taken back to their farm in Rhinebeck, N.Y. The rest of the nineteen goats in the herd will remain at Freshkills Park for the next few weeks, grazing on invasive plant species as part of a 2-acre wetland restoration project. Check out our Facebook page for more glimpses of the baby goat!
Happy 4th of July! Be safe, and get out and enjoy the great outdoors!
With the support of a New York State Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grant, the Department of Parks & Recreation is undertaking restoration of two acres of wetland habitat along Main Creek within Freshkills Park that will include goat grazing as a method of invasive plant control. This pilot project will provide guidance for further wetland restoration projects within the 2,200-acre site, which is the largest landfill-to-park transformation project in the world.
The project seeks to lessen the current erosive impacts at the shoreline while planting native species to enhance habitat value and prevent the return of Phragmites, a highly invasive species. It will create a wider band of salt marsh habitat and a mosaic of coastal habitat including coastal grassland for a variety of marine, avian and wildlife species. The project will stabilize the shoreline to provide additional protection for habitat from potential climate change and sea level rise and will improve water quality through increased interface between coastal plants and tidal waters.
Prior to the wetland construction, a herd of goats will perform conservation grazing to clear invasive plants from the site, particularly Phragmites. Prescribed goat grazing is more common in the rangelands of the western U.S., but is being used more often in the eastern half of the country and in more urban areas, including Governors Island and Ft. Wadsworth in New York City. Benefits of utilizing goats for prescribed grazing include:
- Goats are adept at accessing fence borders, steep slopes and other “hard to reach” plots.
- Although goats produce low levels of methane, they emit far less greenhouse gases than traditional “spark-ignition” lawn mowers.
- Research suggests grazing animals encourage root growth and denser sod cover.
- Correctly managed, animal waste is a source for free, organic fertilizer.
The pilot project will be monitored for success in Phragmites eradication and reintroduction of native plant species. For more information on the Main Creek Wetland Restoration and other projects at the site, visit the Freshkills Park website.
On September 15, 2012, the Museum of the City of New York will inaugurate an exhibition entitled From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012. Through the display of a treasure trove of maps, photographs and objects, the exhibit will explore Staten Island’s rich 351 year history and it’s transformation from a rural to urban landscape. A major portion of the show will be devoted to redevelopment of the Freshkills Park site from a landfill to a green city park. Stay tuned for the Museum’s special interactive website which promises to provide a wealth of exciting information pertaining to the various stages of Staten Island’s growth.
Come August, Staten Island is set to become an even more bike-friendly borough. The Parks Department is in the process of completing a two-mile bike path that will connect the neighborhoods of Great Kills and New Dorp, both of which lie on the other side of Latourette Park from Freshkills Park. The path will run parallel to the southeastern coast of the Island and will provide bikers, runners and walkers a more protected and bucolic alternative to traveling along the roadways. This bike route will be a welcome complement to Freshkills Park’s own 3.3 mile New Springville Greenway, set to be completed by 2013. Eventually, the route will also include spaces for “outdoor gyms” as part of city-wide fitness initiative, BeFitNYC. The creation of this path also represents an important new partnership between several city and state agencies in order to more efficiently improve the quality of New York City’s parklands for visitors and local residents alike.
(via SI Live)
Goats are spending the summer on Governors Island in New York Harbor and Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island as a sustainable resource for park maintenance – eating weeds, trimming trees and grass. Not only do goats graze on invasive plant species, including poison ivy, they can ‘recycle’ some food scraps from visitors as part of a composting program, which is happening on Governors Island for this first time this summer. Fort Wadsworth has hosted a summer herd of goats since 2007. Not only are these ‘living lawnmowers’ cost-effective and more sustainable than fossil-fuel burning mowers, they can reach steep inclines difficult for park maintenance workers and mowers.
Freshkills Park will host a goat herd in summer 2012. There is precedent for goat grazing on former landfill sites, previously cited in our blog post on the Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve in the town of Hempstead on Long Island. Stay tuned for more details on the Freshkills Park goats!