Open Space Protected on Staten Island (NYC)

Staten Island, NY, 11/1/2006: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today progress on a major Staten Island land conservation effort. The properties-20 acres known as Butler Manor Woods and 75 acres known as North Mount Loretto-are in southwestern Staten Island near Hylan Boulevard and Amboy Road. TPL negotiated the purchase agreements and, after closing, both properties will be managed by the State of New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Butler Manor Woods was purchased from a developer in September and TPL is close to signing an agreement to purchase North Mount Loretto from the Archdiocese of New York. The properties link more than 625 acres of state and city land.

“We are pleased to have been able to work with Governor Pataki and the New York Congressional delegation on these important conservation projects and laud them for their commitment to Staten Island and this historic and environmentally important landscape,” said Erik Kulleseid, New York State program director for The Trust for Public Land. “We are grateful for the state and federal funds that made this possible.”

Under the leadership of Governor George E. Pataki and the late John Cardinal O’Connor, The Trust for Public Land purchased 194 acres of Mount Loretto south of Hylan Boulevard to create the Mount Loretto State Unique Area in 2000.

“These two parcels of critical open space in Staten Island will forever be preserved for the benefit of future generations of all New Yorkers,” said Governor Pataki.

Mount Loretto was first used in the 1880s by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York as a mission for homeless and disabled children. The Cardinal’s dedication to open space also led to the creation of an endowment by the Archdiocese for long-term stewardship of the property.

Butler Manor Woods was purchased from a developer for $7 million and will be added to Mount Loretto State Unique Area. Funding for the Butler Manor parcel comes from three sources: the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, enforcement settlement revenues secured by the U.S. Department of Justice and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and two grants secured through the leadership of U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton and U.S. Congressman Vito Fossella, with the support of U.S. Congressman Jose Serrano, then-Ranking Member of the Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program. Both the Butler Manor and North Mount Loretto parcels are priority projects under the state’s Open Space Conservation Plan. The Trust for Public Land assisted with the negotiation for both purchases.

North Mount Loretto includes 75 acres of woods and wetlands south of Amboy Road to be added to the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Mount Loretto Unique Area. Funding for the $12.5 million purchase will likely come from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Mount Loretto State Unique Area offers tremendous educational value with five ecosystems: marine/coastal, grassland, forest, and tidal and freshwater wetlands. Mount Loretto offers a wide array of habitats, with the majority of the 194 acres in grassland and coastal marine habitats. Activities include birding, beach-going, and shore fishing opportunities along a mile-long shoreline. The property includes the only natural red clay cliff bluffs in the New York City area and contains extensive ecologically rich and diverse habitats including grassland, coastal woodland, freshwater and tidal wetlands, coastal bluffs and shoreline, beach and open water and bay bottom in Raritan Bay. The bay is home to dozens of species of finfish and shellfish, many of which are recreational and commercially important, including striped bass, winter flounder, bluefish, and the quahog or hard clam. It also serves as a major migratory pathway and overwintering area for numerous waterfowl, many of which can be observed in large numbers in Mount Loretto. The tidal wetland habitat serves as a nursery area for fish and crabs, and provides foraging opportunities for fish and wading birds, such as herons, egrets and ibis. The grassland provides a unique and significant habitat for bird species that are suffering a decline in the state, including the savannah sparrow and eastern meadowlark. The birds require relatively moist fields with vegetation of a small to moderate height, such as those found on Mount Loretto. For more information about the Mount Loretto Unique Area, go to on the DEC website.

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. TPL has protected more than 2.2 million acres of land nationwide, including more than 75,000 acres throughout the state of New York. 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.