Land on Staten Island’s South Shore Protected (NY)

Staten Island, NY, 4/6/2006: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (“Port Authority”), and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) announced today the permanent protection of four acres of land in the South Beach neighborhood of Staten Island. The land, located near Quintard Street, is being protected as part of a new South Beach Bluebelt being spearheaded by the NYCDEP. This open space will be managed as a wetland area, important for storm water management, and available to the public for wildlife observation.

The property is made up of approximately four acres of wet woods and marshes in the South Beach wetland system. This area provides important habitat for wildlife, including migratory birds utilizing the Atlantic flyway. In addition, these wetlands prevent flooding by storing rainwater and improve water quality by filtering runoff. For these reasons, the South Beach wetlands area has been identified as a priority protection area on the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan and the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary Program’s Priority Acquisition Site list.

Part of the property was burned in the recent South Beach brush fire in March. However, the vegetation in the area, primarily phragmites or giant reed grass, will regrow quickly.

This is the third property protected through the partnership of TPL, the Port Authority, and the City of New York. The trio acquired a marina along the north shore waterfront in West Brighton for a new waterfront park in 2004 and a wooded quarter-acre for addition to the city’s Crescent Beach Park on the south shore in 2005.

Funds for the $175,000 purchase were provided by the Port Authority, under a $60 million program designed to help the Port Authority balance its redevelopment plans with the need to preserve critical habitats and waterfront areas for public use in New York and New Jersey. The properties considered for the program are sites that environmental groups have identified as candidates for preservation, and are required to meet at least one of several criteria, including the ability to provide public access to waterfront areas; the ability to provide buffer areas around existing Port Authority facilities; and the ability to preserve key natural resource areas.

“This land purchase is further evidence of our unwavering commitment as environmental stewards in the communities that host our facilities. We will continue to work closely with environmental groups to identify and acquire ecologically sensitive areas in New York and New Jersey that will allow them to be preserved for future generations,” said Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth J. Ringler Jr.

NYCDEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said, “Thanks to the Port Authority and TPL, the NYCDEP will be able to protect this area as open space and incorporate it into a future Bluebelt project. Staten Island’s system of Bluebelts has proven very popular with residents. Bluebelts are an efficient way of handling stormwater which save money, alleviate the need for sewer construction and provide restored natural areas to the local community. We’re very pleased to be able to receive this property.”

“NYSDEC is proud to be a partner in this effort by assisting with wetlands delineation and working with the Port Authority, City officials, and TPL to enable the permanent protection of this ecologically important parcel identified in the State’s Open Space Conservation Plan. The South Beach acreage will be an environmental and recreational resource that can enrich the lives of Staten Island residents and builds upon Governor Pataki’s commitment to preserving our natural heritage,” said Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan.

“TPL is pleased to have worked with the Port Authority and the NYCDEP to protect this property, which will provide important ecological and recreational benefits to Staten Islanders,” said Clark Wallace, project manager for The Trust for Public Land.

The South Beach Bluebelt is one of three Bluebelts being developed by NYCDEP in the mid-Island area of Staten Island. The other two are New Creek in the Midland Beach neighborhood and Oakwood Beach. A Bluebelt is a system of streams, ponds and other wetlands that NYCDEP operates as a storm water management system, while enhancing the other benefits of the wetland resource such as providing wetland habitat. This acquisition, funded by the Port Authority and negotiated by the TPL, is an important part of the South Beach Bluebelt which altogether will encompass 65 acres, including property that is already City-owned. NYCDEP is now engaged in acquiring the remaining wetlands required for that Bluebelt. The South Beach Bluebelt was approved by the NYC City Planning Commission in April 2005.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.1 million acres of land in 46 states. Since 1978, TPL has helped create, expand, protect, and steward more than 250 parks, gardens, and natural areas in New York City. This work represents an investment of more than $200 million in land purchases and in the design, construction, and stewardship of these important community resources.