10 Years After Sandy in Prospect Park

November 10, 2022

It has been 10 years since Superstorm Sandy arrived in New York City, taking lives and leaving a path of destruction in its wake. As Brooklyn residents at the time will remember, Prospect Park was extremely hard hit by the storm and the work to recover and rebuild for the future has spanned the past decade. Revisit the timeline of the Superstorm Sandy events and how they have shaped the park today:

The Superstorm—October 2012

When Superstorm Sandy arrived in the New York City area on October 29, 2012, the winds caused widespread destruction in the park. All told, the storm felled over 500 trees throughout the park, including 50 trees around the Children’s Pool at the Vale of Cashmere. Revisit footage of the aftermath of the storm in Prospect Park from WNYC. 

The Alliance worked to address storm damage in the Vale, in the Park’s northeast corner: cleaning up downed trees, resetting damaged boulders, and planting native trees and shrubs in order to stabilize the Vale’s slopes.

The Zucker Natural Play Area utilizes trees that came down in Hurricane Sandy.

The Zucker Natural Exploration Area—October 2013

A year after Superstorm Sandy, some of the downed trees found new life in the Donald and Barbara Zucker Natural Exploration Area. Tree trunks and branches were used by Prospect Park Alliance to create a new play area for children, where natural materials took center stage and imaginations ran wild. The Exploration Area was an instant hit and continues to be a beloved destination for families in the park.

New York State Grant—2016

The Alliance received $1.2 million in funding from the National Parks Service through the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grant Program for Historic Properties, administered by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, to restore the Vale and Lookout Hill (another damaged area) to a healthy, native woodland habitat. With this funding, Prospect Park Alliance began in earnest the work of deliberate and significant restoration work in these storm-ravaged areas of the park.

A crew of goats, hired to aid in the restoration work. 

The Goats Arrive—2016 + 2017

In areas of the park where trees fell, invasive plants were able to thrive and overrun the natural ecosystem. Steep slopes and poison ivy made clearing these areas a daunting task for staff, so Prospect Park Alliance called in the experts—a herd of goats! In 2016 and 2017, Prospect Park Alliance brought goats to Prospect Park as part of its woodland restoration efforts in the Vale in the park’s Northeast Corner and Lookout Hill. Instant Brooklyn celebrities, the goats were extremely efficient workers and relished the work of clearing delicious (to them) poison ivy. With full bellies, the goats finished their Prospect Park work season in October 2017, making way for new plantings in the park.

Hurricane Sandy Crew + Landscape Restoration—2016-2020

Prospect Park Alliance brought on a three-person crew to undertake the intensive restoration work necessary in the areas of the park affected by Hurricane Sandy. Tree inventories and health and hazard assessments were completed to quantify and prioritize the removal of damaged trees, including nonnative species that are detrimental to the ecological health of the woodlands. The crew selected a plant palette of climate-resilient and beneficial native plant species to replant in the area. The areas most affected by the storm became hotspots of year-round activity, with the crew and a dedicated team of volunteers hard at work.

In October of 2017, exactly 150 years to the day that Olmsted and Vaux opened Prospect Park’s doors to the public for the first time, Prospect Park Alliance volunteers and staff rolled up their sleeves and got planting in the Vale. Over 20,000 trees, plants and shrubs were planted—a selection aimed at building a healthy and long-lasting forest habitat for birds, wildlife and humans alike. A finishing touch to the lower Vale area was the installation of a rustic woodland trail, which brings accessibility into the heart of the restored area and invites the public to experience the forest as it grows.

Mary Keehbauch, Deputy Director of Landscape Management, and AJ Logan,  Ecological Zone Gardener, former members of the Hurricane Sandy Crew, standing in the restored Vale landscape.

The work completed was comprehensive and has been a success: this portion of the park has been restored to strong ecological health which will benefit the park’s plant and animal communities long term. The work in this area was undertaken by Alliance staff including the Hurricane Sandy Crew, and was supported along the way by a dedicated team of Prospect Park Alliance volunteers and the members of the Woodlands Youth Crew.

These years of hard work to recover from the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy continue to inform Prospect Park Alliance’s work to sustain the park now, and as we look to the future. The restored areas of the landscape in the Northeast corner of the park are flourishing and providing a blueprint for the work that is planned throughout the Vale area and beyond in the park to make our landscapes resilient as we face the challenges of the climate crisis and work to improve the park for the people, plants and animals that depend on it.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s work to Sustain the Environment. 

October is Woodlands Month

October 3, 2022

Prospect Park is home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest—comprising 250 acres of trees, fragile wildlife habitat and paths for the park’s millions of annual visitors to enjoy as the busy city vanishes from view. Prospect Park Alliance has spent decades restoring these woodlands to great success—the ecosystem is healthier than ever and is an essential resource for the people, plants and animals of Brooklyn. The woodlands work continues and you can do your part! Says Alliance Forest Ecologist Howard Goldstein, “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. Follow the park rules and the signs. Being respectful of the woodlands really goes a long way.” We’re calling on all park lovers to Be a Park Champion—here’s how:

  • Please keep the woodlands clean! 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 in our woodlands: this protects fragile nesting areas and helps reduce soil compaction in delicate areas.
  • 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 refrain from building forts in the woodlands: sticks and leaf litter on the forest floor are essential for the creatures that live in the park—leave these for the birds and bees!

Take our pledge today to Be a Park Champion and make a difference in your park! 

On Saturday, October 15, we’re celebrating the first annual City of Forest Day. Presented by Forest for All NYC in partnership with the Parks and Open Space Partners – NYC Coalition and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, City of Forest Day is a day of 50+ activities across the city to raise awareness of the importance of the New York City urban forest, and the essential role New Yorkers play every day in caring for the “lungs” of our city. Prospect Park Alliance will host three activities to celebrate Brooklyn’s last remaining forest including nature education programming, a volunteer opportunity and a tour of the woodlands in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

See the Prospect Park events and check out the full list of 50+ events happening across New York City!

c. Martin Seck

September is Tree Appreciation Month!

September 9, 2022

September has arrived and Prospect Park Alliance is ringing in Tree Appreciation Month and Climate Week NYC as we remind you to Be a Park Champion and help us extend our Summer of Stewardship into the fall! Prospect Park is home to over 30,000 trees of over 175 varieties—and each plays an essential role in keeping our human and wildlife communities healthy and happy.

While the park’s trees may appear big and strong, like any living thing they are susceptible to injury and disease. With over 10 million visitors in the park each year, the trees in Prospect Park need all of our support:

  • Please do not hang hammocks or decorations from our trees, and avoid climbing or breaking branches: this damages the tree bark and can make trees susceptible to disease.
  • Please stay on designated paths in the woodlands to protect fragile wildlife habitats, and make sure to dispose of your trash properly. This will help our trees grow for generations to come.

Check out the ways in which you can celebrate the park’s trees this month:

7 Surprising Tree Facts: Prospect Park Alliance Forester Mike Marino is an expert on Prospect Park’s trees, and gives an in-depth peek behind the scenes at the amazing facts you never knew about the trees in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

TreeKeeper Database: Did you know? Prospect Park Alliance has an interactive map tool that allows you to look up the species and diameter of every tree in the park, as well as the amazing ecosystem benefits our community receives from the park trees.

Fall Volunteering in the Park: Want to take a hands-on approach to caring for the park and its trees? Prospect Park Alliance has a full slate of fall volunteer opportunities! From our weekend Park Pitch In events to Junior Volunteer Corps, there are many ways to lend a hand in your park—sign up today!

Contribute a Tree to Prospect Park: Prospect Park Alliance runs a Commemorative Tree Program in the park. Community members can donate to plant a new tree in Prospect Park in honor of a loved one or for a special occasion. The gift helps replace lost trees and ensures the ongoing ecological health of the park.

Pledge to be a Park Champion: Right now, more than 1,200 members of our community have taken the Park Champion pledge. Help us reach 1,500 during September! Prospect Park is essential to the health and wellbeing of millions of community members, and the hundreds of species of plants and wildlife that call Brooklyn’s Backyard home. Take this important step to pledge to Be A Park Champion, and enter to win great prizes.

Learn much more about how you can be a Park Champion in Prospect Park.

c.Elizabeth Keegin Colley

7 Surprising Tree Facts

Prospect Park is home to 30,000 trees of over 175 species which provide a variety of essential benefits to our community of plants, people and wildlife. Here at Prospect Park Alliance, we’re asking you to Be a Park Champion by celebrating Tree Appreciation Month!

Prospect Park Alliance’s Landscape Management team plants and maintains trees strategically to help Brooklyn’s last remaining forest thrive and partners with NYC Parks Forestry staff to  to sustain the health of the park and its trees. We chatted with the Alliance’s Forester, Mike Marino, for an inside look into 7 surprising facets of tree life in the park.

1. Slow and Steady Wins the Race

There is generally a correlation between how slow a tree grows and how long it lives. Trees that grow slowly are often the ones that live the longest and remain the strongest. If you spot an Oak tree over 40 inches or so in diameter, it’s likely to have been in the park for over a hundred years, and to have grown very slowly throughout its tenure in the park.

Fun fact: The London Plane trees by the Concert Grove Pavilion and the Lower Concert Grove were all planted at the time of the park’s creation about 150 years ago and are original to the design of the park. Oak and Beech trees are also two of the oldest native species found in Prospect Park, so keep an eye out for these strong and steady species throughout Brooklyn’s Backyard.

Marino alongside one of his favorite trees in the park: a centuries-old Willow Oak tree at the Peninsula off of Wellhouse Drive.

2. Trees Can Communicate

Through processes unseen by humans, trees can communicate and look out for one another. Trees release hormones through their leaves called volatile organic compounds, and nearby trees can sense and respond to these hormones. This can happen when one tree is infected with an invasive pest or other threat and through its leaves, sends a signal that something is wrong to another tree. The tree receiving this ‘warning’ can then protect itself by emitting a chemical in its bark that makes it less appetizing to a pest. This survival tactic means there is strength in numbers when it comes to trees– and environments like forests can help preserve species and protect trees.

3. Trees Could Not Exist Without Fungi

Visions of toadstools may be front-of-mind when you hear the word ‘fungi’, but small strands of fungi known as mycelium are essential to the health of all trees. These fungi strands perform a variety of important functions, including the decomposition of organic material to recycle nutrients back into the soil. With the help of mycelium, the tree’s roots are able to extend their reach and retrieve the nutrients and water they need to thrive. Through their roots and through fungi, trees can also send nutrients and minerals to other trees, sometimes even trees of different species, to help their fellow trees stay healthy.

A grove of young trees planted as part of Prospect Park Alliance’s Commemorative Tree Program.

4. The Older the Tree, the Greater the Benefits

From cleaning our air, removing toxins, providing wildlife habitats and more, we receive immense environmental benefits from trees. But the benefits of ten young trees do not measure up to the benefits provided by one 100 year old tree. We need mature trees to reap the full span of benefits to our health and environment. Mature trees give shade and cool down the air, they are able to absorb more water which mitigates flooding, and capture greater quantities of carbon dioxide and produce more essential oxygen for us to breathe.

These benefits of fully-grown trees make it all the more essential to be good stewards to both the long-standing trees of Prospect Park and the newly planted ones that will continue to grow, mature and benefit our community for centuries to come.

5. Trees Mist Us

Ever wonder how exactly parks stay so much cooler than city streets in sweltering summer heat? Trees are to thank for the wave of relief we feel from parks in the summer months. Through a process called evapotranspiration, mist gets spritzed out through tree leaves and into the air, keeping the air relatively cool compared to city streets.

Thanks to these trees, on hot summer days, the temperature inside the park can be as much as 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding concrete streets. A single tree can have the same effect as 5 medium air conditioners—with zero electricity used. In Prospect Park, a recent survey of 12,000 of the park’s trees found that our forest produced the equivalent of over $853,874 every year!

6. Forward-Thought is Key

Alliance Landscape Management staff work in collaboration with NYC Parks Forestry staff year round to prune, maintain and care for the park’s landscape and woodland areas to make sure trees in all stages of life are as healthy as possible to benefit our community for generations to come. By considering the way people use the park, the ecology, safety, and health of individual trees, the Alliance and NYC Parks Forestry teams use a multidimensional approach to keep the woodlands and landscape of the park healthy and thriving.

Prospect Park Alliance’s Landscape Management staff work to plant varying tree species that grow well together throughout the park to help strengthen the health and resilience of Brooklyn’s Backyard. If there’s one invasive pest or environmental stressor that attacks a certain type of tree, a diverse range of species makes it so that an entire forest isn’t wiped out in response to something unexpected in the environment. This is a way of having contingencies and back-ups to keep our forest and landscapes healthy.

“Even when we plant new trees, we’re looking 50 years down the road,” says Marino. “This tree will get bigger: How will it play with its neighboring trees and the uses of the park? What pruning will be needed to provide a strong foundation? We need to have forward-thought as we provide proactive work and care.” Marino emphasizes that this is also where stewardship comes in, “All of our daily interactions with the trees, no matter how small, accumulate and impact trees at all stages. Stress builds up in trees, just as it does in humans. And physically, if we damage a tree’s bark, it’s as if our organs were directly beneath our skin, with nothing to protect us from our environment.”

7. Every One Of Us Can Help Prospect Park’s Trees

To help our community reap the benefits of century-old trees and help young trees continue to thrive for future generations, remember to admire trees from afar and not to pick any leaves, flowers or bark that our ecosystem of people, plants, and animals need to stay healthy. Remember not to hang decorations or hammocks on trees to help keep the trees of Brooklyn’s Backyard green and thriving.

Marino also recommends getting involved and learning as much as possible about trees to help support our ecosystem. Resources to learn about the trees of Prospect Park and beyond range from participating in volunteer opportunities, visiting the TreeKeeper Database to explore the specific environmental benefits of each tree in Prospect Park, reading up on tree behavior in books (Marino recommends Peter Wohllleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees), or even taking classes and becoming a licensed street tree pruner with the Trees New York Citizen Pruner Course.

Learn more about how to Be a Park Champion and care for the trees, wildlife, and natural landscape of Prospect Park.

c. Vinata Ciputra

August is Wildlife Month

August 3, 2022

Prospect Park Alliance’s Summer of Stewardship continues, and this August is Wildlife Month! Living in a city, it can be easy to forget that we live alongside all manner of flying, crawling and scampering creatures—and not all of them thrive in our concrete jungle. Prospect Park’s 585 acres are a critical habitat for countless wildlife species who call the park home. This month, get to know these wonderful species and learn how you can #BeAParkChampion and help them thrive.

Test your park wildlife knowledge: Did you know that you can find 15 species of mammals in Prospect Park? Or that Prospect Park Lake hosts a large population of largemouth bass? Take our Prospect Park Wildlife Quiz and see how much you know about the creatures that live in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

Name our Park Champion mascot: We received over 500 submissions from the community for the name of our new mascot—thank you! This chipmunk will help educate our community about how to be a #ParkChampion and important ways to keep the park green and vibrant. Prospect Park Alliance naturalists narrowed down the list to 5 names—vote now on your favorite!

Pledge to be a Park Champion: Right now, more than 850 members of our community have taken the Park Champion pledge. Help us reach 1,000 today! Prospect Park is essential to the health and wellbeing of millions of community members, and the hundreds of species of plants and wildlife that call Brooklyn’s Backyard home. Take this important step to pledge to Be A Park Champion, and enter to win great prizes.

Learn much more about being a Park Champion in Prospect Park.

6 Ways to Take Care of Prospect Park’s Lake

July 11, 2022

July is Lake Appreciation Month, and Brooklyn’s only Lake needs our help to stay healthy and vibrant. Prospect Park’s 60-acre Lake is home to a wide range of fish, amphibians, birds, and home to a variety of beloved park activities. We’re sharing 6 ways that you can help care for the Prospect Park Lake with each visit to the park.

  • 1. Admire the Wildlife from Afar: We all love to watch the turtles and ducks that live in Prospect Park’s Lake, but please admire them from a respectful distance and do not feed them. The animals of Prospect Park have systems in place to find food naturally, which keeps them healthy and safe. When we feed park wildlife, it can attract animals to places they wouldn’t naturally go and can harm these beloved park dwellers’ health.
  • 2. Fish Responsibly: Please protect wildlife habitats for everyone’s enjoyment by following fishing rules. Remember that all fishing is catch-and-release and is allowed in designated areas only, and adults need a license from the NYS DEC. When not disposed of properly, fishing line can entangle birds and other wildlife and result in injury or death. Remember to discard fishing line fragments and hooks in marked fishing line bins or trash cans to keep park wildlife safe.
  • 3. Carry-In and Carry-Out Your Trash: Carry your trash, and anything else you bring into the park, out of the park with you! Dispose of your litter at home where you can recycle and compost it. Ensuring that no trash, debris, or other items are left behind helps keep our Lake healthy and our wildlife safe.
  • 4. Keep Dogs Leashed: Four-legged friends are great park companions. Make sure their visit to the park is positive for the park wildlife and natural areas by following dog-walking rules and safety tips. Remember that off-leash hours are from 6 am–9 am and 9 pm–1 am at the Long Meadow (except ballfields), Nethermead and Peninsula Meadow (except woodlands). At Dog Beach, dogs must be leashed at all times except during off-leash hours.
  • 5. Enjoy the Lake from a Rental Boat: Keep in mind that swimming and private boats are never allowed in Prospect Park’s Lake. Approved boats are available to rent at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. Following these rules helps keep park-goers as well as the animals and plants of the Lake safe.

Visit our Park Champion page to learn more about our stewardship activities, and take the Park Pledge! 

July is Lake Appreciation Month

July 6, 2022

Did you know? Prospect Park is home to Brooklyn’s only Lake, a 60-acre haven for numerous species of fish, birds, turtles, frogs and plants. The Lake also attracts plenty of human admirers, and this July, we hope you’ll join us in being a Park Champion as we celebrate Lake Appreciation Month.

Volunteer at the Lake
All July, Prospect Park Alliance has opportunities for you to lend a hand during Park Pitch In days! Join us for clean up projects on select Saturdays and Sundays—volunteers will be given grabbers, nets, and bags to help fish out trash from along the shoreline of our Lake. Appropriate for supervised youth ages 4-13, Teens and Adults. Sign up to volunteer.

Fish Responsibly
Fishing is permitted in the Prospect Park Lake, and we ask all who participate to be Park Champions and follow these simple rules:

Learn more on our Fishing page. 

Pledge to be a Park Champion
Prospect Park is essential to the health and wellbeing of millions of community members, and the hundreds of species of plants and wildlife that call Brooklyn’s Backyard home. Today, take an important step and pledge to Be A Park Champion, and enter to win great prizes.

Learn much more about being a Park Champion in Prospect Park.

Re:New Initiative Returns for 2022

May 9, 2022

Prospect Park is the place to be for our community, which is why Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that sustains Brooklyn’s Backyard, is continuing the Re:New Prospect Park initiative for a second year. These efforts help serve our community to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the surge of visitors in the park.

Due to the pandemic, Prospect Park Alliance lost critical funding which resulted in a reduced workforce and resources. This combined with an increase in park visitors led to the park getting much more love than it can handle. However, thanks to the support of our community of donors and volunteers over the past two years, the park has been able to weather the storm, and the Alliance is placing much-needed funds to continue our Re:New efforts in time for our busiest season.

“Prospect Park has been so important for all of us these last two years. Our community has supported the park as volunteers, donors and advocates, and enabled us to sustain this essential green oasis,” said Prospect Park Alliance Interim President James Snow. 

“During the pandemic, it was made abundantly clear just how vital parks are to the health and wellbeing of this city,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “As we continue to recover, our priority is to ensure that parks in all neighborhoods are clean, green and safe. We are so grateful for the support of our partners at the Prospect Park Alliance who share in our commitment through programs like the Re:New Initiative.”

Critical support for this initiative is made possible through generous funding from Amazon, and many generous individuals and community members who make annual contributions to the Alliance. Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance membership.

Re:New Prospect Park Initiatives

Park Maintenance
Prospect Park Alliance has partnered with ACE New York, a non-profit that empowers the homeless, to provide additional maintenance resources to help clean the park on peak weekdays and weekend evenings through October. In addition, the Alliance has brought on board four groundskeepers to help supplement NYC Parks maintenance crews during this busiest time of year. The crew is partially funded via a grant from Amazon.

“Prospect Park is a local gem offering healthy outdoor recreation to Brooklyn families,” said Carley Graham Garcia, Amazon’s Head of Community Affairs in New York. “This creative initiative offers new job opportunities, while ensuring Prospect Park continues to serve our local neighborhood especially as we head into the summer months. Amazon is thrilled to renew this partnership for Summer 2022.”

To support these efforts, Prospect Park Alliance is encouraging park visitors to carry out their trash via promotional signage at all park entrances. The Alliance has also installed large trash receptacles in key areas of the park.

Park Improvements
The Alliance will continue the re-investment in the park to tackle important improvement projects through funding from our community of donors. Work will take place to improve pedestrian pathways, repair stonework at the Lakeside esplanade and locations throughout the park, install new picnic tables at the Wellhouse barbecue area, and improve drainage throughout the park—an increasingly critical tool in improving the resilience of the park against major rain and flooding events.

In 2021, the Re:New initiative successfully brought improvements to every corner of the park. The Lincoln Road comfort station received a complete makeover, new barbecues, furnishings and fixtures were installed at the popular Picnic House and Bandshell barbecue areas, new benches were added to the beloved Drummer’s Grove, and broken ornamental brickwork at the historic Boathouse terrance was repaired.

Volunteer Opportunities
Prospect Park Alliance has brought back the popular Re:New Volunteer Corps—a weekly volunteer program that tackles park improvement projects made necessary by the high volume of visitors. The crew works alongside Alliance staff to maintain playgrounds, painting over unsightly graffiti, weed areas overgrown with invasive plants and repaint park benches and railings.

In 2021, the Re:New Volunteer Corps was a great success and the crew worked on a variety of park improvement projects. Over the course of the season, they removed 2.6 tons of invasive vines and weeds; filled 250 holes on the Long Meadow; replenished all playground sandboxes; and sanded and painted 270 linear feet of hand railing, 121 benches, 46 entrance bollards, and the 10 storage containers on Center Drive.

About Prospect Park Alliance
Prospect Park Alliance is the non-profit organization that sustains, restores and advances Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s Backyard, in partnership with the City of New York. The Alliance provides critical staff and resources that keep the Park green and vibrant for the diverse communities that call Brooklyn home. Learn more at prospectpark.org. 

About Amazon
Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit amazon.com/about and follow @AmazonNews.

About ACE
ACE was founded in 1992 and provides job-readiness training, work experience, all around support, and much more to New Yorkers who have histories of homelessness, incarceration and addiction. At ACE, men and women overcome barriers through hard work to reach their goals of full-time employment, economic self-sufficiency, and family reunification. Over 3,000 men and women have secured full-time employment through ACE’s programs. Learn more at acenewyork.org.

c. Martin Seck

Celebrate Earth Day in Prospect Park

April 13, 2022

Join the celebration! This Earth Day season, join Prospect Park Alliance for nature exploration activities, open-air learning, volunteer activities, virtual learning resources, and stewardship to give back to our park and our planet. 

  • Volunteer
    • Prospect Park Alliance’s spring volunteer season is underway and there are many opportunities to lend a hand in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Work on essential park projects with Re:New Volunteer Corps on Tuesdays, help pick up litter with Green + Go Kits, and more! Register to be a Prospect Park Volunteer and see all of our upcoming opportunities at prospectpark.org/volunteer.
  • Nature Activities + In-Park Events
    • Join Prospect Park Alliance on Saturday April 23 for nature activities, education opportunities and more! Head to B’Earthday Bash to celebrate Earth Day, the Prospect Park Audubon Center’s 20th Anniversary, and the birthday of two legends: naturalist John James Audubon, and landscape architect and Prospect Park’s creator, Frederick Law Olmsted. Participate in  interactive activities for all ages, nature walks and a special exhibit on the 200th Anniversary of Olmsted’s birth. Learn about the environment in a special one-day session of University Open Air, with sustainability-focused free courses and workshops under the trees in Prospect Park.

What We’re Planting in the Park This Spring

Spring has sprung in Prospect Park! Prospect Park Alliance gardeners and volunteers are putting on their gardening gloves and preparing for our seasonal planting. This spring, our Landscape Management team is preparing to add 10,953 plants to the park, including: 171 trees, 338 shrubs, and 10,499 herbaceous plugs.

Prospect Park comprises 585 acres of rolling meadows, waterways and woodlands in the heart of Brooklyn, and is home to the borough’s only lake and last remaining forest. This landscape, beloved by Brooklynites, is also an essential wildlife habitat and hosts 250 species of birds and other important flora and fauna. For over 30 years, Prospect Park Alliance has overseen the park’s natural areas, and major improvements have been made to the entire park ecosystem. This spring’s plantings continue this essential work to keep the park green and vibrant.

Many of the new trees will be planted as part of the Alliance’s Commemorative Giving program, an opportunity for the public to donate a tree to the park in honor of a loved one or for a special occasion. These additions help replace lost trees and ensure the ecological health of the park.

These trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plugs are destined for areas throughout Prospect Park. The southern shore of the Peninsula will receive native wetland plants in an effort to prevent the further erosion of the Lake edge and the expansion of the invasive phragmites, while creating a visually appealing native waterfowl habitat. At the Butterfly Meadow atop Lookout Hill, volunteers have done extensive work clearing the area of undesirable invasive plants to make way for more beneficial species.

One of the spring’s largest plantings will take place in the landscape surrounding the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. Alliance staff have been hard at work this winter experimenting with sheet mulching in anticipation of the new plant additions in the area. “It will be interesting to see how the sheet mulching works,” says Ecozone Gardener AJ Logan. “Even before we plant new things we are already seeing some of both our friends and foes of the plant world sneaking in around the edges of the cardboard.”

The plantings at Lakeside will include a variety of species well suited for our area, and selected for their ecological benefits within our ecosystem. One addition, the Red Chokecherry, (Aronia arbutifolia), is a native shrub in the rose family with attractive white flowers in the spring and intense red and orange foliage in the fall. Its pollen and nectar provide food for native pollinators, and its berries are a winter source of food for birds. Another, Sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), has fragrant, bottle-brush like blooms of white flowers that attract a variety of pollinators in the summer.

The most important way the public can help these new plantings? “I’d like for visitors to know that when people and pets go into the horticultural beds, they can easily damage plants, particularly young perennials, and can contribute to soil compaction and erosion,” says Lakeside Lead Eco Zone Gardener Corbin Laedlein. “Please don’t wander into the beds and keep your dogs leashed at Lakeside.”

The sentiment is echoed by Eco Zone Gardener Jesse Brody, “with continued hard work, time and resources, I’m hopeful that we can get the LeFrak greenroof back to its pre-Covid state of being a landscape that serves important ecological functions and appears more worthy of the public’s respectful treatment.”

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