PPA Profiles: W.I.L.D. for Prospect Park
July 11, 2016
Mary Beth Artz, one of the founding members of W.I.L.D. for Prospect Park and a lifelong Brooklynite, has always felt a strong connection to the Prospect Park Lake. As a child growing up in Windsor Terrace, her father would take her to the Lullwater to look for tadpoles. This area is still one of Artz’s favorite places in the Park, and she has dedicated herself to improving the health of the animals that call the Lake home.
W.I.L.D., in their own words, is “a group of community members committed to ensuring that Prospect Park is safe and healthy for all animals and plants that call the park's incredible ecosystem home,” and seeks to accomplish this goal through a combination of volunteerism and outreach around the Lake. Since forming in 2011, W.I.L.D meets regularly to remove trash from the water and to educate park visitors about how improperly discarded trash, such as plastic bags and soda cans, pose a danger to wildlife. Recently, members removed floating debris from the lake, using boats provided by Village Community Boathouse. Artz also conducts solo clean-ups multiple times a week, and represents W.I.L.D. when working with the Prospect Park Alliance on environmental projects.
Most recently, W.I.L.D. joined forces with the Alliance and FIDO in Prospect Park to create and install recycling containers where anglers can responsibly dispose of fishing line, which can seriously entangle fish and birds. Artz advised the Alliance on where these containers should be placed, in order to have the largest positive impact. W.I.L.D. members visit the containers regularly to remove the fishing line, and speak with anglers to encourage them to “clear your gear.”
W.I.L.D.'s dedication has led to partnerships with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, when he was state senator, and the Humane Society, bringing city-wide attention to the Park’s biodiversity. Artz's care for animals also extends beyond her work with W.I.L.D. She has worked as an educator at the Prospect Park Zoo, and is a devoted owner of several rescue cats.
W.I.L.D. is open to wildlife lovers of all ages—their youngest member is only ten years old. W.I.L.D. also encourages everyone to be an everyday steward of the Park by bringing your own trash bags, and properly disposing of garbage. Every little bit helps to beautify the Lake, and protect the wide variety of animals that call it home.