c. Mary Keehbauch

Sun Power for Parks

June 6, 2023

Walking through Brooklyn’s Backyard on any given day, it’s clear that creativity is key for the Prospect Park Alliance Landscape Management team. Their essential work to sustain the park’s natural areas has included an array of unlikely, environmentally friendly techniques that make use of everything from cardboard and piles of leaves to even sheets of plastic. In one technique called solarization, dedicated Alliance staff and volunteers use plastic and the power of the sun to ward off invasive plants that can outcompete native species that park wildlife depend upon.

The crew experimented with this approach this winter: tailoring  their methods on an as needs basis, determining the plastic’s color and thickness through careful consideration of the location, terrain and targeted plants. “Solarization trials in full sun locations have been the most successful—particularly with two sections in the Vale Woodlands, an area restored by Prospect Park Alliance following Superstorm Sandy,” says Landscape Management Deputy Director Mary Keehbauch. “The biggest take away is that no one rule applies to every situation. Everything we do is site specific, and being creative and willing to try different methods is essential. Not all trials are successful, but we are committed to getting the best results possible.”

Before and After of a solarized area in the Prospect Park Vale, where the target species, Goutweed, is almost entirely gone thanks to the team’s implementation of this technique. Courtesy of Mary Keehbauch, Prospect Park Alliance

Each plastic has its specific use. Black plastic blocks light and heats the roots of an invasive plant once it has been cut down, and remains in place for at least  full year; while clear plastic is used in shorter increments, in areas of direct sunlight to stop the plant’s growth, heat up the soil to destroy the roots, and rid the soil of any remaining seeds. The end result is soil that is ready to be planted with native, pollinator-friendly plants that will help Prospect Park’s ecosystem thrive. The solarization of a given area can span anywhere from two months to two or more years, and the team plans to build on its progress by assessing which approach is most successful in what conditions, implementing the technique in new areas of the park, assessing progress and monitoring results as this work continues.

Solarization at work protecting Prospect Park's natural landscapes.

The type of terrain, access to sun, and target species are all major factors in the Alliance’s work to refine its solarization technique for varying areas. Courtesy of Mary Keehbauch, Prospect Park Alliance.

Building on the successes seen in the Vale and beyond, the team has plans to use solarization to eradicate dense Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) near the Golden Stairs–located between 10th Avenue and 16th Street park entrance–with thick black plastic and to knock-out Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) near the 3rd Street Entrance with thin clear plastic. Following successful solarization, the Alliance will restore the areas with  a wide range of native species, from beautiful spring ephemerals to strong healthy trees that will provide a haven in the park for generations to come. Asked how park goers can help the Alliance in these efforts to keep Brooklyn’s Backyard green, vibrant and healthy, Keehbauch shares a reminder that while these projects are eye-catching, and openings in the woodlands are tempting for discovery, it is important that everyone in the park respects the work being done and stays on the paved or wood chipped trails to keep the park healthy.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s work to sustain the environment and how you can Be a Park Champion to support the natural landscapes of Brooklyn’s Backyard.

June is Health + Wellness Month!

May 31, 2023

Did you know that time in nature can reduce stress, improve your mood and boost your physical health?

Prospect Park Alliance is kicking off our Summer of Stewardship with exciting opportunities to Be a Park Champion and care for your park, while making the most of the health and wellness benefits offered by nature.

Show friends and family that you care for them and your park: send a loved one an Rx For Nature and enjoy the health benefits of nature together with one of these fun activities:

 

While enjoying nature, don’t forget to Be a Park Champion by carrying out everything you bring into the park, staying on paved or wood-chipped trails, and admiring the wildlife from a safe distance.

Learn more at prospectpark.org/champion and send an Rx for Nature today!

National Trails Day in Prospect Park

Be a Park Champion this National Trails Day in Prospect Park! Saturday, June 3, is the 31st annual National Trails Day, a day to celebrate your local trails alongside community members and pledge to leave your trail better than you found it every day of the year.

Prospect Park’s 585 acres are home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest. These 250 acres of scenic woodlands, sustained by Prospect Park Alliance, are not only essential to the health of the park and the wildlife that call it home, but are also a source of wellness for our community.

Time in nature can reduce stress, improve your mood and boost your physical health, and getting out on the trails in Brooklyn’s Backyard is a wonderful way to reap these benefits. To make the most of all these trails have to offer, Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC) members share some of their favorite routes and tips for walkers and runners of all levels.

To join the National Trails Day movement, boost your health by taking a walk or run through one of Prospect Park’s scenic trails, and lend a hand to keep these woodland areas pristine and healthy. Be a Park Champion while enjoying the park’s natural beauty, by staying on paved or wood chip paths, keeping dogs leashed in woodland areas, admiring wildlife from a safe distance, and taking nothing from the park with you.

“What makes running or walking on Prospect Park’s trails so special are the unexpected delights—finding little waterfalls, coming upon a familiar part of the park from a different angle and taking a moment before you quite realize where you are,” said Lisa Knauer, one of PPTC’s Race Directors. “One of my favorite routes is climbing up Lookout Hill on a clear day and catching a glimpse of Coney Island.”

Another must-see walking or running route begins starting from Grand Army Plaza. Take the eastern pathway to the Endale Arch into the Long Meadow and follow along the hex-block path on the east side of the Long Meadow. Follow the path until it forks at a tall oak tree, and take the path on the left into the woodlands. Follow the trail until you reach another fork, and take the wide stone steps on your left and then turn right down another set of steps. At the bottom you’ll find the little-known Boulder Bridge, a historic bridge that was recreated by the Alliance in the 1990s as part of the larger restoration of the Ravine. The view from this bridge is one of the most scenic in the park. After enjoying the view, return to the path and continue to the right of Boulder Bridge, down a few more steps. At the bottom you will find a small octagonal footprint of a structure where an old rustic shelter once stood. Take in the view of the gorge below, and then continue down the steps until you reach Rock Arch Bridge and Ambergill Falls, one of several waterfalls that were designed by park creators Olmsted and Vaux. Continue down the path until it forks, and then turn right and head up the sloping path back toward the Long Meadow and enjoy the towering trees and wildlife sightings along the way.

You also won’t want to miss recent scenic additions in the heart of Prospect Park’s woodlands—including a rustic trail just off Center Drive thanks to the 2021 summer cohort of the Prospect Park Alliance Woodlands Youth Crew, whose vital restoration work transformed this part of the park. This trail now offers park goers a chance to see the top of the Lullwater, a view of Brooklyn’s Backyard that was previously inaccessible to park visitors.

As part of the Prospect Park Alliance’s woodland restoration work in the Vale, the team also installed a new rustic rail trail, which leads visitors to two sites that are currently being restored: the Rose Garden to the Children’s Pool, inviting visitors to take a meandering route through the woods while staying on path.

“Right in Brooklyn’s Backyard, exploring the trails in Prospect Park can make you feel a world away from the busy city,” said PPTC Board member Katie Claiborne. By making the most of your time in nature, staying active and practicing good stewardship this National Trails Day and every day, you are helping Brooklyn’s wildlife and community thrive.

Ready to get out on the trail and #BeAParkChampion? Learn more about programs offered by Prospect Park Track Club in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Plus, enjoy family-friendly nature walks at the Prospect Park Audubon Center.

Free Health + Wellness Events in Prospect Park

May 24, 2023

Did you know that spending just 20 minutes in nature can decrease stress and promote wellbeing? This June, Prospect Park Alliance is kicking off another Summer of Stewardship by celebrating the many ways you can help care for your park and the wonderful things your park can do for you!

RSVP today for these free health and wellness events, and stay tuned for more ways to Be a Park Champion this summer in Prospect Park:

Prospect Park Yoga with Brooklyn Flow
Thursdays, June 1- August 24, 7 pm 
– 8 pm
Prospect Park Long Meadow (Enter at Grand Army Plaza)

Learn More + RSVP

Brooklyn’s most beloved outdoor yoga series is back in Prospect Park! Brooklyn Flow and Prospect Park Alliance present free, outdoor yoga on the Long Meadow. Brooklyn’s finest yoga teachers from different studios around the park lead free, outdoor group yoga classes in a low-pressure, beautiful environment. Join hundreds of Brooklynites each week to celebrate yoga and wellness in our treasured Prospect Park. Bring your own mat or towel, a bottle of water and friends. All levels are welcome. Please sign the waiver prior to your first class. Prospect Park Yoga is made possible in part through support from NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.

AMP’d Interval Training with Chelsea Piers Fitness 
Tuesdays, June 6 – September 26, 6 pm – 7 pm

Prospect Park Long Meadow (Enter at Grand Army Plaza)
Learn More + RSVP

Join Chelsea Piers Fitness and Prospect Park Alliance to hit the grass and push your body to new limits in this high-intensity interval training class that combines bodyweight strength and cardio on the Prospect Park Long Meadow. You will move through a range of movements from running and jumping to lunges and crunches to keep you motivated and energized. All levels are welcome.

Upbeat Pop! Dance Fitness at the Boathouse
Saturdays, August 19 – February 24
Join Prospect Park Alliance and Shape-up NYC for a 45-minute dance fitness class! Come prepared to shake, roll, grapevine, and clap to your favorite upbeat pop songs. We will use this time to cultivate joy and silliness while getting a great workout and reaping the benefits of cardiovascular fitness. All levels are welcomed and encouraged. Whether you want to learn some new choreography or need a space to step-touch and sing, this class is for you!
Learn More

Nature Exploration Family Bird Walks
Thursdays + Fridays, 3 pm 
– 4 pm + Saturdays + Sundays, 12 pm – 1 pm
Learn More

Calling all families and children! Join Prospect Park Alliance for a Nature Exploration Family Bird Walk as we search for the hundreds of bird species that stop in Prospect Park each year, while exploring nature and stretching our legs. Binoculars and bird guides are provided.

Want Be a Park Champion? Visit prospectpark.org/champion to learn more about caring for Brooklyn’s Backyard.

c. Radka Osickova

Spot the Park’s Newest Species: The Devil Bird

May 11, 2023

For the past few weeks, an unusual visitor has been perched in the treetops high above Prospect Park’s lake. The Anhinga, also known as the Devil Bird, is a large waterbird with a snake-like neck that is typically found in the swampy southeastern corner of the country. But, for the first time since 1992, the bird has been spotted in New York—right here in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

Located along the Atlantic Flyway, with more than 250 migratory and resident bird species spotted each year, Prospect Park is a long beloved birdwatching haven. “The park’s 585 acres are a critical life-saving space for birds. Prospect Park is a rest stop full of food and water thanks, in part, to Prospect Park’s lake and watercourse,” says Peter Dorosh, a Prospect Park Alliance Eco Zone Gardener and avid birder who recently spotted the Anhinga himself. “Prospect Park was the lucky beneficiary of such an awesome sighting: Brooklyn’s only lake  caught the Anhinga’s eye.”

For members of the birdwatching community, this is an exceptional spotting outside its usual migratory path (which for the Anhinga historically reaches as far north as the Carolinas). The bird’s arrival was so unexpected, it was even featured in The New York Times.

For Dorosh and Prospect Park Alliance’s crew of Eco Zone Gardeners and Forest Ecologist, which works to restore and sustain the park’s natural areas, the Anhinga’s arrival highlights an important aspect of their job: ensuring the park’s landscape is a healthy breeding and foraging habitat for birds and other wildlife—both expected and unexpected.

“Birds stop in, refuel, rest and then continue onward for the greater breeding territories in the northern United States and Canada,” explains Dorosh. To Dorosh and Prospect Park Alliance, the priority is ensuring the birds find what they need to thrive in the park. “It’s important to plant native trees and shrub species because these plants attract insects—particularly moths and caterpillars, as they are the soft food needed to feed baby birds and fledglings,” he says.

The Alliance also focuses largely on mitigating habitat loss. “We do our part to remove the invasive plants and replace them with native plants,” says Dorosh. “This greatly benefits natural habitats and restores food webs that include the pollinating wildflowers, grasses and fruiting shrubs that are essential for insects.”

The team strives to create and maintain habitats that send the right signals to any new bird species that may unexpectedly arrive due to the changing climate. “Birds know if a breeding territory will ensure the survival of their species,” Dorosh says. “If we have enough native trees, birds will coexist with other birds and become specialized in what they eat—that’s how evolution intended it.”

As anyone familiar with the variety and abundance of species in Prospect Park knows, there’s plenty to go around. “Warblers and flycatchers eat insects. Cardinals and Blue Jays eat berries and nuts. Sparrows eat grass seeds, and Hawks are carnivores who help keep the rodent population at bay,” explains Dorosh. “We have it all in Prospect Park, as long as we maintain the habitats to become and stay healthy and native.”

Interested in catching a glimpse of the Devil Bird? Learn about bird watching opportunities in Prospect Park.

Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance’s work to sustain the environment and how you can help support the plants, wildlife and community of Brooklyn’s Backyard.

Must See Spring Bloom Destinations

April 4, 2023

Spring is here in Prospect Park, and Brooklyn’s Backyard is flourishing with flowering cherry blossoms, vibrant witch hazel, peach and white magnolias and more. To help you make the most of the season, we’ve compiled a guide of our top bloom destinations throughout the park, with both hidden treasures and classic favorites.

Mary Keehbauch, Deputy Director of Landscape Management at Prospect Park Alliance, shares how the team is taking in the change of season and planning for what the upcoming months will bring, more specifically in the park’s 250 acres of woodlands. “We are collectively taking this time to scout and be inspired by the returning forces of nature,” said Keehbauch. “As yellow trout lilies and wildflowers such as trillium push through the leaves and vines, our team will clear the way for blooms to come. We welcome park visitors to stroll the chip lined trails in our woodlands, and watch as the transformation begins, assisted by the April showers, extended hours of soil-warming sun, and our hardworking team supported by wonderful dedicated volunteers.” As you admire the blooms of Brooklyn’s Backyard, remember to leave petals, leaves and berries on trees and flowers. These are essential to the pollinators and wildlife that call Prospect Park home, and by making the most of spring from a safe distance, you’re helping our ecosystem thrive.

Spring blooms at Grand Army Plaza and vibrant hues of Carmen’s Garden in front of the Litchfield Villa. c. Martin Seck + Michael Silverstone

Grand Army Plaza

Grand Army Plaza is Prospect Park’s formal entrance, and features some of the park’s most impressive architecture, and ornamental flowers and trees. Among them, early-blooming cherry trees and daffodils are the first to arrive. April welcomes Eastern redbud and pink-flowering cherry trees that give way to the white Silverbells in May. As summer approaches, watch for the clustered flowers of the bottlebrush buckeye.

LeFrak Center at Lakeside

At Lakeside, the spring blooms attract park visitors and wildlife alike! Park goers who visit the greenroof at Lakeside in early spring will be able to catch the vibrant yellows, oranges and reds of Witch Hazel. As April advances, Lakeside receives a fresh coating of delicate white blossoms from the many Serviceberry, Chokeberry, Cherry laurels, and Foxglove Beardtongue that are buzzing with activity, as well as blooms of yellow from the Fragrant Sumac and Spicebush. Late spring brings with it a crescendo of flowering dogwoods and dewberries, and those with a keen eye might just spot a few of the subtle, deep purple blossoms of Lakeside’s paw paw trees!

Litchfield Villa

The historic Litchfield Villa is a well-known destination for flower lovers. In April, tulips and Juneberries electrify Carmen’s Garden, located directly in front of the pre-Civil War-era mansion, heralding the arrival of warm weather. In May, blossoming crabapple and hawthorn trees paint the landscape in pinks and whites, while perennial displays replace the fading tulips. Be sure to head around back to see cream-colored flowers of the Korean dogwood trees.

Magnolia trees in bloom along the Long Meadow in Brooklyn’s Backyard. c. Martin Seck

Long Meadow

Passing through the Meadowport or Endale Arch in mid-April, visitors are welcomed by the peach and white bouquet of magnolia and dogwood trees that line the Long Meadow’s north end. The warmer weather brings out lilacs, as well as the hanging flowers of the yellowwood tree.  Later in the season, enjoy the view under the shade of a flowering linden tree, and take in the sweet scent of the oakleaf hydrangea near the Picnic House.

Flourishing woodland flowers in Prospect Park’s woodlands. c. Martin Seck.

Ravine

Those with an adventurous spirit should head across Binnen Bridge and past the Nethermead to the Park’s woodland Ravine. Look for spicebush with its clusters of yellow flowers and small red fruits that are rich in nutrients for small birds. Pond edges are home to chokeberry, and American elderberry, deciduous shrubs native to New York. These shrubs will later feature berries that attract a variety of wildlife, making them instrumental in the health and diversity of Prospect Park’s natural habitats. Watch for the rare and lively Pinxter azalea which will add a vibrant pop of color to the evergreening woodland areas.

Bartel-Pritchard Square

Prospect Park is home to a few dedicated pollinator  gardens. In addition to Grand Army Plaza and Carmen’s Garden, Bartel-Pritchard Square features a variety of springtime blooms. The arching Carolina allspice with its unique maroon flowers that smell of strawberry anchor the native pollinator friendly beds, and it’s hard to miss the old-fashioned weigela, an ornamental shrub with beautiful trumpet-shaped lavender flowers.

Plan your visit to Prospect Park. 

c. Mary Keehbauch

Solar Innovations Take On Invasive Plants

February 7, 2023

Have you spotted plastic tarps in certain areas of the park and wondered why? Fear not–they’re not picnic remnants or litter left behind. The tarps are an eco-friendly approach to fighting invasive plants without the use of harmful chemicals. It’s just one of the many ways that Prospect Park Alliance’s Landscape Management team has deployed environmentally friendly and innovative approaches to keep the park’s natural areas green and vibrant; including the use of goats to clear invasive weeds, ladybugs to tackle a harmful insect infestation, and layers of cardboard and mulch to ward off opportunistic plants of concern.

This season, the team has been hard at work implementing a technique called solarization to help keep the park’s landscape healthy and resilient with strategically placed sheets of plastic.

Solarization at work at the Children’s Pool in Prospect Park

Solarization at work at the Children’s Pool in the Northeast corner of Brooklyn’s Backyard. Photo courtesy of Mary Keehbauch.

The team charts out a customized approach based on the specific needs of each landscape. “The plastic color and thickness is determined by the location and the target plants. Is it sunny or shady? Upland or near the watercourse?  Is it a small enough area that we will be successful with this method? How will it look or impact the experience of park users?” says Mary Keehbauch, Prospect Park Alliance’s Deputy Director of Landscape Management, on the meticulous planning behind this method. “Often, the invasive plants that are targeted would be nearly impossible to eradicate using traditional manual methods. Solarization is an opportunity to reclaim small target areas, causing less disturbance and, eventually, a lot less labor.”

Solarization at work protecting Prospect Park's natural landscapes.

Because of these shrub stumps’ location at the top of a steep slope, the team used solarization to avoid destabilizing the slope with digging. Photo courtesy of Mary Keehbauch.

At the onset, solarization is an intense labor of love and requires an area to either be completely cleared of all organic material, or in the case of the tall reeds near the lake, flattened with plywood. “Thankfully, we have very willing and devoted volunteers and staff that help prepare and install the appropriate type of plastic,” says Keehbauch. Thanks to the hard work of these staff and volunteers, native plants have been successfully reintroduced to the south Lakeshore area and parts of the Lullwater.

The solarization of a given area can span anywhere between two months to two or more years, and, while restoration will be ongoing, this technique has already helped slow the growth and minimize the presence of invasives in the park. Once an area is cleared or flattened, the team uses either black or white plastic to reap the benefits of solarization. Black plastic is used to block light and heat the roots of an invasive plant once it has been cut down, while clear plastic is used in areas of direct sunlight to stop the plant’s growth, heat up the soil to destroy the roots and rid the soil of any remaining seeds. The end result is soil that is ready to be planted with native, pollinator-friendly plants that will help Prospect Park’s ecosystem thrive.

The technique is currently underway in multiple areas in Brooklyn’s Backyard and is focused on suppressing Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) and Common Reed (Phragmites australis). All three of these invasive plants spread quickly and form dense clusters that can outcompete and eventually replace the park’s native plants. This work allows native plants to grow and thrive, which promotes the longevity of Prospect Park’s landscape and helps protect the habitat of the countless wildlife that call the park home.

Keep an eye out for the innovative ways Prospect Park Alliance works to tackle invasive plants throughout the park and learn more about how the Alliance is sustaining the environment. 

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.