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Four Sparrow Marsh

Like many a promise of perpetuity, the “Forever Wild” designation of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation seems to translate as “until somebody wants to pave things over.”  Four Sparrow Marsh Preserve is a 64-acre expanse of salt water marsh at the northeast corner of Flatbush Avenue and the Shore Parkway in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. It is also the site of a proposal by the NYC Economic Development Corporation for a another Flatbush Avenue mall.  According to its Parks Department profile, Four Sparrow Marsh has several critical environmental roles: it is a nesting area for the eponymous sparrow species and a rest/feeding space for hundreds of other migrating bird species; it also filters pollution and excess nutrients from Jamaica Bay.  The marsh isn’t made for people: it’s soggy and muddy and littered with tidal trash.  It should remain Forever Wild. In addition to the birds, thousands of fiddler crabs make their homes there.  So do muskrat.  It is as close to wild as you can get in Brooklyn, and that alone makes it vital to our ecosystem, the city’s biodiversity, and a livable future.  A Public Scope Meeting is scheduled for tonight, January 11 at 7pm at the King’s Plaza Community Room, 5100 King’s Plaza, at the intersection of Flatbush & Avenue U.  Written comments are being accepted until January 21. Birds, fiddler crabs, and muskrat have no voice in this proposal, but we do.

Submitted by Matthew Wills Backyard and Beyond

Tagged: biodiversitybrooklynnaturenycopen spacewildlifedevelopmentmarshfreshwater wetlandsubmission

Sleighbells in Springtime →

Inspired by the abundant nature in Staten Island, “Sleigh Bells in Springtime” [Frogs Calling] is the story of a young girl who searches for the source of a sound and finds so much more: a love of frogs, a sense of place, quality time with her father and her sister, and the opportunity to participate in actual citizen science. Written in vivid verse with fun illustrations, “Sleigh Bells” connects to both the young and young at heart, inspiring people connect with spring peepers and a chorus of other calls, which, without the concerted effort of all of us, may be silenced forever. A fun story with many layers of depth, like the pond itself, “Sleigh Bells” ring, and it’s great to read, read-aloud, or listen.

Written by Jessica R. Kratz

Forest Hills, a neighborhood once full of trees, looks now desolated after the tornado in October. Can we have our trees back, please? We love our plants and natural environment here in Queens.
Submitted by Roxana Gheorghe

Forest Hills, a neighborhood once full of trees, looks now desolated after the tornado in October. Can we have our trees back, please? We love our plants and natural environment here in Queens.

Submitted by Roxana Gheorghe

Tagged: naturenycplantsqueenstreestornadoplanycsubmission

The Rebirth of a North Bronx Haven

Ten years ago, visitors to Seton Falls Park in the North Bronx would have had a hard time believing that it is supposed to appear almost exactly as it did during the American Revolution.   In the early 1990s, the park was a haven for drug dealers and car thieves who abandoned stripped vehicles in its forests.

“The park went down to hell,” said Christine Foreman, 75, “There was prostitution, drug dealers.  People didn’t care for the park.”

Frustrated, Foreman formed the Seton Falls Park Preservation Coalition, which in the past few months observed both its 10th anniversary and the completion of Seton Fall’s restoration.  The park was reopened June 5 and celebrations will continue through the end of December.  

Read the rest of the article…

Written by Catherine Shu
October 11, 2004

Tagged: bronxseton falls parkforesturban ecologynycnature

The Asteraceae family, also known as the aster or daisy family, is the largest among vascular plants, and we are lucky to have many species that are native to New York.  In Stuyvesant Cove Park, we have three different species, all of which are fall bloomers, and whose displays are still hanging in there this late in the season: Symphyotrichum laeve (smooth blue aster, pictured), Eurybia divaricata (white wood aster), and Symphyotrichum novi-belgii (New York aster).  
Stuyvesant Cove Park is an all native species park, and a great place to come see natives used in a park setting.  To learn more, visit our website at http://solar1.org/park/.  
Submitted by Daisy Hoyt

The Asteraceae family, also known as the aster or daisy family, is the largest among vascular plants, and we are lucky to have many species that are native to New York.  In Stuyvesant Cove Park, we have three different species, all of which are fall bloomers, and whose displays are still hanging in there this late in the season: Symphyotrichum laeve (smooth blue aster, pictured), Eurybia divaricata (white wood aster), and Symphyotrichum novi-belgii (New York aster).  

Stuyvesant Cove Park is an all native species park, and a great place to come see natives used in a park setting.  To learn more, visit our website at http://solar1.org/park/.  

Submitted by Daisy Hoyt

Tagged: biodiversitymanhattannatureplantswildflowersnative plantssubmission

Amazing Diversity of Bees in NYC

Most New Yorkers know about honeybees- they produce honey, live in hives, swarm in the spring, and have been experiencing recent declines due to the mysterious affliction known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Fewer New Yorkers, however, know about the industrious and beneficial wild bees of New York City. These bees differ from honey bees in that most are solitary (living alone instead of in a hive), nest in tunnels in the ground, and do not produce harvestable honey. These wild bees include bumble bees, large carpenter bees (the “giants of the bee world”), mining bees (which live underground), brilliant green metallic bees, and even parasitic cuckoo bees that attack the nests of other bee species.

Thus far, working with Dr. John Ascher of the American Museum of Natural History, we have identified over 200 bee species living in NYC. Many of these are important pollinators, such as the Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) and the Brown-belted Bumble Bee (Bombus griseocollis) which are both very common in community and private gardens. In a typical community or private garden, there may be 10-20 bee species. There is a positive relationship between the number of bee species and the number of flowers in a garden, so by planting more flowers, you will support more bees.

If you are interested in bee monitoring and conservation in NYC, check out the Great Pollinator Project. This is a citizen science initiative created by Liz Johnson of the American Museum of Natural History and Ed Toth of the NYC Parks Department. By visiting the site, you can sign up to become a citizen science bee watcher or just visit the blog to learn more about bees.

You can also check out a slide show of NYC bees by clicking here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevin_matteson/sets/72157603722653851/show/

Submitted by Kevin Matteson

Tagged: beesnycnative beesbumblebeesbombuspollinatorplanyc

Published Botanical Studies in NYC (mostly Queens)

1972    Greller, Andrew M.  Observations on the forests of northern Queens
County, Long Island, from colonial times to the present.  Bulletin of
the Torrey Botanical Club 99: 202-206.
1973    Lefkowitz, A. and Greller, Andrew M.  The distribution of tree
species on the uplands of Cunningham Park, Queens County, New      York.
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 100: 313-318.
1975    Greller, Andrew M.  Persisting natural vegetation in northern
Queens County, New York, with proposals for its conservation.
Environmental Conservation 2: 61-69.
1977    Greller, Andrew M.  A vascular flora of the forested portion of
Cunningham Park, Queens County, New York, with notes on the vegetation.
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 104: 170-176.
1977    Greller, Andrew M.  A classification of mature forests on Long
Island, New York.  Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 104: 376-382.
1978    Greller, Andrew M., Calhoon, R.E., and J.M. Mansky.  Grace Forest,
a mixed mesophytic stand on Long Island, New York.  Botanical Gazette
139: 482-489.
1979    Greller, Andrew M.  A vascular flora of the forested portion of
Cunningham Park, Queens County, New York:  Corrections and additions.
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 106: 45.
1979    Greller, Andrew M., Calhoon, R.E. and E. Iglich.  The upland,
oak-dominated community of Forest Park, Queens County, New York.
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 106: 135-139.
1982    Greller, Andrew M., Calhoon, R.E. and J. Mansky.  An Oak,
Hickory—Dogwood forest on central Long Island, New York.  Bulletin of
the Torrey Botanical Club 109: 219-225.
1972    Greller, Andrew M.  Observations on the forests of northern Queens
County, Long Island, from colonial times to the present.  Bulletin of
the Torrey Botanical Club 99: 202-206.
1973    Lefkowitz, A. and Greller, Andrew M.  The distribution of tree
species on the uplands of Cunningham Park, Queens County, New York.
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 100: 313-318.
1975    Greller, Andrew M.  Persisting natural vegetation in northern
Queens County, New York, with proposals for its conservation.
Environmental Conservation 2: 61-69.
1977    Greller, Andrew M.  A vascular flora of the forested portion of
Cunningham Park, Queens County, New York, with notes on the vegetation.
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 104: 170-176.
1977    Greller, Andrew M.  A classification of mature forests on Long
Island, New York.  Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 104: 376-382.
1979    Greller, Andrew M.  A vascular flora of the forested portion of
Cunningham Park, Queens County, New York:  Corrections and additions.
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 106: 45.
1979    Greller, Andrew M., Calhoon, R.E. and E. Iglich.  The upland,
oak-dominated community of Forest Park, Queens County, New York.
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 106: 135-139.
1982    Greller, Andrew M., Calhoon, R.E. and J. Mansky.  An Oak,
Hickory—Dogwood forest on central Long Island, New York.  Bulletin of
the Torrey Botanical Club 109: 219-225.
1983    Greller, Andrew M. and David C. Locke.  Stone Fort at Fort Totten:
last habitat of Woodsia obtusa and Asplenium platyneuron in Queens
County, Long Island, New York?  American Fern Journal 73: 6-8.
1985    Greller, Andrew M. A vascular flora of the forested portion of
Cunningham Park, Queens County, New York:  Corrections and additions -
II. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 112: 312.
1988    Stalter, R. and A. Greller. A floristic inventory of the Gateway
National Recreation Area, New York New Jersey.  Rhodora 90(861): 21-26.
1989    Greller, A.M. Vascular flora of the Kalbfleisch Field Research
Station of the American Museum of Natural History, Suffolk County,  Long
Island, New York. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 116: 174-181.
1990    Greller, A.M., Locke, D.C., Kilanowski, V. and Lotowycz,E. Changes
in vegetation composition and soil acidity between 1922 and 1985 at a
site on the North Shore of Long Island, New York. Bulletin of the Torrey
Botanical Club 117: 450-458.
1991     Greller, A.M., Panuccio, M.K., and Durando, C.M. A vascular flora
of Cunningham Park, Queens County, New York: Corrections and Additions
-III.  Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 118: 330-332.
1992.    Greller, A.M., Buegler, R., Johnson, E., Matarazzo, R, and
Anderson, K. Two unusual plant communities in Tottenville, Staten Island, New York, with Celtis occidentalis and Asimina triloba . Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 119: 446-457.
2004.  Levine, M.E. and Greller, A.M.  Ecological and floristic analyses of vascular
plants along a gradient on disturbed serpentinite on opposing slopes in
Staten Island, NY. J. Torrey Botan. Soc. 131(1): 69-92.

Submitted by Andrew Greller

Tagged: nycplanycqueensbotanical studiesfloranative plantswildflowersurban ecology

ON THE BOTTOM

 

I drift off to sleep      sink beneath the surface      down

     into a watery world      I hear turbulence above    water crashing

     against rocks     a churning sound that has filled the

     Bronx River Gorge for eons        the noise awakens memories

     I remember when I tumbled through the rapids

     I was lucky       the water brought me near a boulder

     I squeezed underneath like a spelunker     away from danger     hugging

     the rocks      finding a home      I fall deeper into sleep        

     feel my body morph       gills replace lungs         

     my trunk sways in the current      hair undulates like seaweed          

     my eyes adjust to darkness       I check my surroundings

     water flows toward me     bathing my gills with a chemical taste

     I feel nauseous        but I reach out      grasp particles of decaying plants

     shove them into my mouth       wiggle through a crevice      

     realize I am only one millimeter tall       it becomes clear        

     I am a river bottom bug.

 

I still have memory     I remember when we could not live here

     when the ice was a mile thick       the glacier pressed down hard

     everything was pulverized      we went south      when the ice receded

     we reclaimed our homeland.

 

I remember the land above us       before it became a great city

     back when mastodons roamed free       Now during daylight

     you see only man      occasionally a dog tethered to a leash

     some specially trained to sniff for bombs or bedbugs     

     other animals come out only at night       afraid for their lives.

 

Birds still fly overhead         some eat what man leaves behind

     gulls scour the seashore looking for scraps    pigeons gather

     on street corners pecking at crumbs     herons wait in stillness

     they come less frequently to the Bronx River         there are

     fewer fish      fewer herons       fewer everything except man.

 

I hide in the cracks   away from the jaws of these fish    listening

     for the scratching sound of crayfish legs    they try to catch me         

     I live on the edge      close to death      but life is good

     my gills and stomach are full      I am a survivor      but now

     I fear something new     we used to be a diverse community      

     we came in many shapes     with different abilities to fit in   

     to find food     to raise a family     now when you look around    

     some are big      some are small       but we are mostly the same.

 

 The night is short          soon I will awaken and go back

     to my human body        I slide through a crevice

     come face-to-face with a scud       I look him in the eye

     I want to speak but words fail me        I know I am

     an alien invader       expected to deliver a message

     at last I say    I’m sorry      forgive us.”

Submitted by Bob Ward, a retired teacher who has been volunteering to sample macroinvertebrates in the Bronx River with visiting school groups and teacher training programs.

Tagged: BronxBronx Riverpoemurban ecologyplanyc

View of the Bronx River from Stone Mill at New York Botanical Garden.  Photo by Ivo M. Vermeulen

View of the Bronx River from Stone Mill at New York Botanical Garden.  Photo by Ivo M. Vermeulen

Tagged: Bronx RiverBronxNew York Botanical Gardennycplanyc

Urban Ecology Program from Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy