c. Elizabeth-Keegin-Colley

Explore Prospect Park’s Waterways

January 25, 2022

Take a free, self-guided audio tour of Prospect Park’s watercourse—a marvel of nature, history and eco-innovation. The tour is presented by Prospect Park Alliance, in partnership with artist Mary Mattingly and More Art, and powered by Gesso. The tour serves as an educational component of the ecoWEIR pilot program currently operating in Prospect Park, and is presented through funding from the Environmental Protection Fund Grant Program for Park Services, administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s landmark park, is a natural wonder but also a feat of engineering: home to the borough’s last remaining forest and only lake, the park’s watercourse is fed by the New York City water supply. The free, self-guided audio tour, narrated by Mary Mattingly and Jason Chan, provides a new perspective on the natural and human-made ecosystems found in Prospect Park, and its connection to New York City’s water supply. From the natural ponds, local springs, and streams that were here before the park, to the waterways designed by park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux that today are fed by watersheds as far as 125 miles north of the city, to the future health of these waterways through an innovative ecoWEIR that uses plants to filter water—the tour peels back layers of history, environmental stewardship, and human intervention that are hidden beneath the surface.

The tour begins at the Grand Army Plaza entrance of the park and ends on Wellhouse Drive in the park, a total of 2.02 miles and 12 narrated stops. The route includes a steep set of stairs in the Ravine and passes over dirt/gravel and paved paths. There is an accessible restroom at the end of the tour located at the Wellhouse. 

c. Brittany Buongiorno

WNYC Features Alliance Animal Pro Marty Woess

January 21, 2022

In Prospect Park, Marty Woess is a familiar fixture, whether she’s working with volunteers, zooming around in her cart, or performing impressive animal rescues. Woess is the Forestry, Wildlife and Aquatic Technician for the Prospect Park Alliance, and her work was featured on WNYC’s Morning Edition in an interview with host Michael Hill, and in a related story on Gothamist by Alec Hamilton.

Listen to Woess’s interview on WNYC:

Woess’s work is part of the Alliance’s mission to sustain the environment in Prospect Park, and she works alongside the dedicated Landscape Management team. These workers monitor the health of the park’s aquatic and woodland areas, look after more than 30,000 trees, and strategically care for the park’s natural habitats.

Prospect Park is 585 acres of rolling meadows, waterways and woodlands in the heart of New York’s most populous borough—and receives upwards of 10 million visits a year. Prospect Park also is home to Brooklyn’s only lake and last remaining forest, and is an important wildlife habitat that supports more than 250 species of birds and other fauna.

In her interview, Woess stresses the importance for proper park stewardship in order to keep the park wildlife safe, “Be responsible. Take your trash out with you. If you’re a fisherman, please do it responsibly. You need to clear up your line and your hooks. Make sure you have the right hooks, the legal hooks. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions in a park and cleaning up after yourself.”

If you see an animal in need in Prospect Park, please call 311. Learn more about our work and how you can help sustain Prospect Park’s environment. 

Marty Woess rescuing a racoon in Prospect Park. c. Marty Woess.

c. Shutterstock/WNYC

Prospect Park Alliance Volunteer Helps Revive the American Chestnut

December 21, 2021

Ever wonder what happened to the American Chestnut? At the turn  of the 20th century, the American chestnut towered over other trees in Eastern  forests. The trees would grow as much as 100 feet high, and 13 feet wide. According to legend, a squirrel could scamper from New England to Georgia on the canopies of American chestnuts, never touching the ground.

And then, the trees began to disappear, succumbing to a mysterious fungus. The fungus first appeared in New York City in 1904—and  then it spread. By the 1950s, the fungus had wiped out billions of trees, and effectively finished off the American chestnut.

Now, some folks are trying to resurrect the American chestnut– including a longtime Prospect Park Alliance volunteer, Bart Chezar, who works closely with the Prospect Park Alliance’s Landscape Management Team.

Take a listen to WNYC’s Science Friday segment.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s work to sustain the environment.

 

c. Steve Nanz

Birdwatching in Prospect Park

October 12, 2021

A key focus of the non-profit Prospect Park Alliance’s mission is to sustain and restore the park’s natural areas, including Brooklyn’s last remaining forest and only Lake, which suffered from significant erosion and neglect prior to the Alliance’s founding. Keeping the park green and vibrant is important to both humans and birds alike. During the fall migration, one of the peak birdwatching times of year, we sat down to talk to Alliance EcoZone Gardener and avid birder Peter Dorosh, recognizing the park’s important role as a haven for more than 200 species of birds.

“The most exciting season for birdwatching is now and in the spring, the biannual migrations when birds travel to and from their breeding grounds throughout North America,” Dorosh said. When asked why Brooklyn’s Backyard is a great place for birdwatching, he said: “Because it’s a contained green space surrounded by urban dwellings, birds migrating see a dark spot during their migratory travels at night (recognizing it as a green space), and come down from flight for shelter and food.”

The Alliance’s landscape management team, which includes gardeners, a forester and also a forest ecologist, focuses on sustaining our natural areas with native plantings that are specifically geared to providing food and shelter for birds and other wildlife.

Prospect Park takes on even more importance for birds in light of a recent study that found steep, long-term losses across virtually all groups of birds in the U.S. and Canada. How to nurture birds in Brooklyn’s Backyard? Please sustain our woodlands by staying on path, and not climbing or hanging structures on our trees. Have a dog?  Please keep your pet on leash, and on path, in woodland areas. Dorosh explained that birds, whether they are nesting, breeding or migrating, see dogs as a threat. “Most particularly during nesting season, the parent birds get unnecessarily stressed and hyper-vigilant in trying to protect their young even if the nest is high above.” Even if birds are not directly attacked by dogs, just the sight of dogs can send birds into a panic, causing unnecessary stress during this critical time in their survival.

To learn more about birdwatching, connect with our partners at the Brooklyn Bird Club. They offer free, year-round programming to novices and avid birdwatchers alike. Find out more about bird watching in Prospect Park on our website.

Help spread the word about good park stewardship: Dogs are allowed off leash in the park from 6 am to 9 am and 9 pm to 1 am on the Long Meadow (not ballfields), Nethermead, and the Peninsula Meadow. At all other times and locations, dogs should be on their leashes. Birds and park wildlife will thank you!

Woodlands Youth Crew Completes New Park Trail

September 10, 2021

Visiting the park this fall, you may notice a scenic addition in the heart of our woodlands—a rustic trail just off Center Drive that invites visitors to slow their pace and meander into parts unknown. 

The work to restore this woodland area and create a new trail was work of the 2021 summer cohort of the Prospect Park Alliance Woodlands Youth Crew, one of our signature youth employment programs that provides local teens with employment, training, mentorship and professional experience in environmental conservation and park stewardship. The program was funded this summer through the generous support of NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, whose longstanding partnership with the Alliance and essential work during the pandemic will be honored on September 30 at the Prospect Park Alliance Gala.

Woodlands youth crew 2021 picstich.png
Picturedat top, Paul Lubrun and Kayla Green; above left, Phil Lubrun, right, Jeshua Figueroa and Paul Lubrun.

The work of the Woodlands Youth Crew is an essential part of the Alliance’s work to restore and sustain Brooklyn’s last remaining forest. The semicircular route created this summer by the crew features a never-before-seen view of the top of the Lullwater, previously inaccessible to park visitors. “This area was a complete vine-land, with invasive plants everywhere—you couldn’t see the water at all,” says Kate Abrams, the Alliance Woodlands Youth Crew Manager. “But there is also so much good stuff in here, witch hazels, red maples, oaks and sumacs, and the idea of the trail just came together.” 

On a recent summer afternoon, the crew members were proud to point out the work they had done to transform this part of the park. Heaping compost piles were a testament to the volume of invasive vines that the crew had removed, and mulched paths with cedar railings were getting their finishing touches. “We’ve been getting lots of passersby saying thank you,” says Philip Lubrun, a crew member since 2016 who is now back for his second year as a supervisor. “This was my first job, and it comes naturally to me now. I’ve learned about planting, carpentry, invasive removal—it’s opened up a lot of opportunities for me…this is not the type of job you find everywhere.” 

“This is a great crew and the teamwork over time is the best thing to see,” says Abrams, “hopefully this path opens up possibilities for this area—people already seem to really appreciate it and the kids are really proud of what they’ve done.”

woodlands youth crew path 2021.jpg

A peek at the new trail, off Center Drive in Prospect Park.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s Woodlands Youth Crew.

c. Frederick Charles

Prospect Park’s NYC Climate Week 2021 Events

The effects of climate change are being felt near and far, including in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. During NYC Climate Week, September 20-26, join Prospect Park Alliance for virtual and in-person events to learn more and lend a hand in Brooklyn’s Backyard:

Brittany Buongiorno

Caring for the Park’s 30,000 Trees

July 13, 2021

Prospect Park is home to more than 30,000 trees of more than 175 species. A key focus of the non-profit Prospect Park Alliance’s mission is to sustain and restore the park’s natural areas, including the woodland Ravine and the park’s historic watercourse and lake, which suffered from significant erosion and neglect prior to the Alliance’s founding. This commitment represents a $15 million investment over the past three decades, which has encompassed nearly 200 acres of woodlands, and the planting and ongoing care of more than 500,000 trees, plants and shrubs.

Prospect Park Alliance’s Forester, Michael Marino, sat down for a chat about the importance of our caring for the park’s trees and how they contribute to our community’s well being and quality of life. 

Recently, a generous grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation provided the Alliance with the opportunity to survey roughly half the park’s trees to shed light on their significant impact on Brooklyn’s quality of life, and to create a forest management plan. Through the survey, the Alliance discovered that the surveyed trees alone provide more than $2 million in annual environmental benefits: removing 21,000 pounds of pollutants and 3,000 tons of greenhouse gases from the air, and saving 1,300 megawatt hours of energy consumption and 22 million gallons of stormwater runoff from the city sewer system. 

“A lot of my work involves the care of recently planted trees,” said Marino. “The work you do when a tree is young will impact the rest of its life.” Trees, like many other living organisms, can experience and express pain, but often it takes years before the signs of pain and stress are apparent to those who care for them. “The culmination of stress on a tree can show up 20 years later.”

The primary source of funding for planting new trees in the park is the Alliance’s commemorative tree program. “We plant about 100 trees a year for community members, to celebrate a loved one or special occasion or simply to give back to the park,” Michael explained. Donors have a variety of different tree planting options in order to honor a loved one, including a special Arbor Day program. Prospect Park Alliance conducts commemorative tree plantings each fall and spring. Through this program, roughly 1,100 trees have been planted over the past 30 years.

When asked about simple things park patrons can do to help ensure the health of the trees in the park, Michael had a few tips. Climbing trees and hanging hammocks are damaging to the trees. While climbing a tree in a private backyard isn’t necessarily damaging, in a public area thousands of people doing this activity daily is. He also spoke at length about soil compaction. “Whenever you see large dead patches around trees, or the ground is very hard and flat, the tree is not getting enough air or water. The tree is suffocating from the bottom up.

Please spread the word on how to be an environmental champion in Prospect Park by following these simple rules:

  • Please dispose of litter in designated receptacles or consider taking your litter with you when you leave the park and disposing of it at home.
  • Please stay on paths in our woodland areas, and do not go beyond fencing or build forts in our woodlands: this protects fragile nesting areas for birds, turtles and other wildlife.
  • Please keep dogs leashed at all times in the woodlands: off-leash hours are provided in our large meadow areas, learn more on our Things to Do with Dogs page.
  • Please do not climb or hang objects on trees in the park: our trees are our environmental treasure. While sap is flowing up to provide nourishment to the emerging buds and flowers, bark is at its most vulnerable. Wounds become easy access for insects and disease.
  • Please enjoy the flowers, but don’t pick as they are important for our pollinators, the cycle of life in any wildlife habitat.
  • Please avoid having barbecues s under trees and dumping hot coals on the lawns. Learn more about barbecue rules and safety.

Learn more about the Alliance’s efforts to preserve the environment. 

Want to give back to the park and honor a loved one? Learn more about our commemorative tree program, and how to get involved.

Virtual Tour: Spring Planting at Lakeside

May 7, 2021

Take a virtual walk through LeFrak Center at Lakeside with Turnstile Tours and Corbin Laedlein, the Lakeside Lead EcoZone Gardener for Prospect Park Alliance. Learn how Corbin and his fellow Lakeside gardeners curate Lakeside’s plant mix for ecological, aesthetic, and habitat purposes, and visit the green roof atop the Lakeside skating rink.

Learn more about how Prospect Park Alliance is sustaining the environment.

 

Help the Alliance Tackle Trash

April 29, 2021

Prospect Park is the place to be for our community—which is why Prospect Park Alliance has new stewardship efforts to help serve our community and meet the challenges we are facing, part of the Re:New Prospect Park initiative.

“We know how important the park is to our community right now,” said Sue Donoghue, Park Administrator and President of Prospect Park Alliance. “Prospect Park is showing serious signs of wear and tear, and we need our community to pitch in and help keep this cherished green space thriving.”

Carry In + Carry Out Your Trash
Please carry out of the park everything you bring into the park with you, and please clean up your trash and litter. If you are able to carry out your trash, you will be doing your park a great service. If this is not possible, please use the large trash receptacles that Prospect Park Alliance has installed in key areas of the park. View this map for large trash receptacle locations.

Re:New Volunteer Corps
Make a lasting impact on Prospect Park! Join the Volunteer Corps to engage in essential park improvement projects such as filling divots and reseeding holes in the park’s lawn areas, sweeping paths, and painting benches and railings.

Register Today Button-01.png

It’s My Park Mondays
Join us on Mondays for special It’s My Park Mondays community volunteer events, where groups and individuals can help us sustain the park during these challenging times.

Register Today Button-01.png

Green + Go Kits
Want to help keep the park clean and green? Register today to check out a Green + Go Kit, available every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at various locations around the park. Kits include a trash grabber, garbage bags and gloves. You must be 18 years old to check out a kit, but children are welcome to accompany adults.

Register Today Button-01.png

Ace New York
See a few extra helping hands around the park? This year, Prospect Park Alliance is partnering with ACE Programs for the Homeless. Their crews will help keep Brooklyn’s Backyard clean and beautiful on weekends and key weekdays now through October. This is just one of the ways that we are renewing the park after a year of much love through our Re:New Prospect Park initiative.

ace New York

Want to keep informed on volunteer opportunities all year long? Register today to become a Prospect Park Alliance Volunteer. 

c. Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Brooklyn’s Last Remaining Forest

April 27, 2021

Prospect Park is home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest, 250 acres of beautiful woodlands that are a fragile habitat for wildlife. Prospect Park Alliance Senior Forest Ecologist Howard Goldstein sat down for a chat about the importance of our woodlands to people, plants and animals.

“Nature is intrinsically important to human beings. Being able to interact with nature is imperative to our health and psyche. There are lots of plants and animals in this urban oasis that form an important ecosystem to sustain our environment,” said Howard when asked why the park’s woodlands are important to him. “You can conserve wilderness in the Amazon, or you can conserve nature in the center of a city.”

In an effort to preserve the woodlands, Howard studies the overall health of our forest, as well as the positive impact that the Alliance’s landscape management team is making in the park through its woodland restoration efforts. Two good signs he looks for are fewer vines on trees, and fewer non-native invasive plants. His favorite section of woodlands, North Lullwater Cove, has improved significantly in the five years he’s been with the Alliance. 

When asked about what the public can do to help protect the forest, Howard had the following to say: “Recognize that the forests, the trees, are living, and this habitat is filled with living things. We put in a lot of energy to protect, preserve and restore this green oasis, and the public can do its part. If you love the woods, respect them: stay on paths, don’t jump fences, don’t hang from tree branches, don’t litter, don’t build forts. Follow the park rules and the signs. Being respectful of the woodlands really goes a long way.” 

Learn more about the Alliance’s efforts to preserve the environment. And please spread the word on how to be an environmental champion in Prospect Park by following these simple rules:

  • Please dispose of litter in designated receptacles or consider taking your litter with you when you leave the park and disposing of it at home.
  • Please stay on paths in our woodland areas, and do not go beyond fencing or build forts in our woodlands: this protects fragile nesting areas for birds, turtles and other wildlife.
  • Please keep dogs leashed at all times in the woodlands: off-leash hours are provided in our large meadow areas, learn more on our Things to Do with Dogs page.
  • Please do not climb or hang objects on trees in the park: our trees are our environmental treasure. While sap is flowing up to provide nourishment to the emerging buds and flowers, bark is at its most vulnerable. Wounds become easy access for insects and disease.
  • Please enjoy the flowers, but don’t pick as they are important for our pollinators, the cycle of life in any wildlife habitat.

Families can enjoy our Pop-Up Audubon programs to explore our natural areas and learn more about park nature! 

Interested in learning more about park stewardship efforts and how you can help keep the park green and vibrant?  Get Involved in our individual and group volunteer programs.