Staten Island Wetlands Protected (NY)

Staten Island, NY, 3/31/2003: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced the addition of nearly 12 acres to the Old Place Creek Wetland complex in Staten Island, Richmond County, expanding opportunities for passive outdoor recreation and preserving valuable fish and bird habitats.

DEC will acquire the property for approximately $1.05 million, using funds from the B.T. Nautilus Damages Account, which was established under a consent order in 1994. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit land conservation organization, assisted in the purchase of these lands.

The 11.62-acre parcel will be added to the 58-acre Old Place Creek Wetland, a tributary of the Arthur Kill that includes a tidal creek providing important habitat for fish, egrets and other wading birds. Old Place Creek is part of the Harbor Herons Wildlife Complex, which consists of 2,196 acres of undeveloped land along the western shore of Staten Island, including tidal and freshwater marshes, a pond, creeks and four islands. The Harbor Herons Complex supports the largest breeding population of colonial water birds in the northeastern United States and was designated a State Bird Conservation Area (BCA) in November 2001.

“The preservation of wetlands and critical habitats along Old Place Creek in Staten Island will protect various species of birds and fish, while also providing opportunities for local residents to enjoy nature in an urban area,” Commissioner Crotty said. “Governor Pataki is strongly committed to protecting New York’s unique natural resources and the acquisition of this property will help to ensure that the Harbor Herons Wildlife Complex remains a protected habitat for wildlife and available for use to residents of Staten Island and future generations.”

Clark Wallace, project manager for the Trust for Public Land, said, “The Trust for Public Land is very pleased to have participated in this acquisition. The tidal wetlands along Old Place Creek are an important natural resource. We look forward to working with Commissioner Crotty and the DEC on future acquisitions in the Harbor Herons area.”

The wetland was acquired with funds from a 1994 consent decree with the Nautilus Motor Tanker Co. Ltd. as a result of a fuel spill in the Kill Van Kull. Subsequently, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed by New York State, the federal government, New York City and New Jersey in order to purchase land as mitigation under the directives of the decree.

The Old Place Creek Wetland is located near the junction of the Staten Island and West Shore Expressways. The property was classified as a priority parcel under the 2002 New York State Open Space Conservation Plan.

Old Place Creek is one of the tidal creeks along the Arthur Kill that was targeted for protection in An Islanded Nature: Natural Area Conservation and Restoration in Western Staten Island, including the Harbor Herons Region, co-authored by the Trust for Public Land and the NYC Audubon Society a 2001 follow-up study to The Harbor Herons Report. TPL helped the DEC acquire an adjacent 50 acres for the Old Place Creek Nature Preserve in 1998. In the harbor, the Trust for Public Land has made significant strides in protection and research including the protection of 382 New York acres (an investment of $7.1 million) and the publication of An Islanded Nature (2001) and the Harbor Herons Report (1990).