PPA Profiles: Peter Dorosh, Natural Resources Crew
March 16, 2017
This year, Prospect Park Alliance celebrates the Park's 150th anniversary with stories from members of the community about the impact the Park has had on their lives. Interested in contributing your own? Submit your story and we might share it with other Park lovers!
During a recent spring snowstorm, Peter Dorosh was quick to point out the flurry of bird activity taking place. “See the robins? They’re hunting for insects under the snow. They already have their spring blush,” said Dorosh, referring to the creatures rosy breasts. Dorosh is a field technician with the Prospect Park Alliance Natural Resources Crew, which conducts woodland restoration and trail maintenance. The ultimate goal is to bring the Park's woodlands back to their original state.
A Brooklyn native from Wallabout, one of Brooklyn’s oldest neighborhoods, Dorosh began visiting Prospect Park in 1975 when he was 14 years old, drawn by the diversity of bird species. “Prospect Park was the number one spot for me because warblers are my favorite family of birds,” said Dorosh. “There are 36 warbler species and you can see most of them during the migration seasons in the Park.” Prospect Park is what is known as a stopover site for many birds, an area in between the wintering grounds and summer breeding sites. During fall and spring migrations, Prospect Park is a world-renowned hotspot for birds that drop in to rest and refuel before continuing on their journeys.
An avid birdwatcher since he was a teen, Dorosh depends primarily on his vision to locate the birds he observes. Categorized as profoundly deaf, Dorosh relies less on the sound of birdsong to locate his quarry, and more on another virtue. “I’m very patient… I stand there and look for the movement.”
Recalling his bird watching expeditions in the 1970s, Dorosh recalled “the birding was great, but you just had to be careful of where you walked. It wasn’t safe in a lot of areas, and the Vale of Cashmere was a no-no—I used to get scared going there by myself. I usually hung around areas like the Upper Pool, which was safer, but pretty degraded.”
Since its founding in 1987, Prospect Park Alliance has undertaken an extensive restoration of the Park’s natural areas, including the woodland Ravine and the Park’s historic watercourse and Lake, which suffered from significant erosion and neglect. The Alliance's work to restore the Park’s woodlands over the past three decades represents a $15 million investment that has encompassed nearly 200 acres of woodlands and the planting and ongoing care of more than 500,000 trees, plants and shrubs.
Before Dorosh began a career at Prospect Park Alliance in 2001, he was working at a bank and acting as the President of the Brooklyn Bird Club. After 16 years at the bank, he resigned during a merger, and applied shortly thereafter to work at the Alliance. After short stints elsewhere in the Park, he joined the Natural Resources Crew, a job that has allowed him to use his birding expertise to improve the Park. “I used to work in a 10’x6’ cubicle, and now my office is 528 acres! It’s a change of pace, and a change of scenery.”
“Restoring habitats is like art. To see an area become more beautiful and healthier is one of the greatest things. When I started coming to Prospect Park, the watercourse was so degraded, and now we have wood ducks! It’s a wonderful thing, to see ducks and ducklings in the habitats that were degraded back then, that are much richer now, it’s nice to see the Park revitalized and restored.”
“You can come to this Park, bird all year, and see close to 200 species, which is amazing for a small park like this. For people on a tight budget, or who don’t have the use of a car, this is a place they can come to on public transportation, and see an amazing diversity of birds.” Now a guide with the Brooklyn Bird Club, Dorosh is an advocate of this peaceful pastime. “Birding is a hobby, a leisure—something to distract you from the stress of work and other things that might bother you in life. It is meant to be a peaceful, harmonious thing to do.”
Watch a video profile of Peter and the Prospect Park Alliance Natural Resources Crew: