2016: The Goats have Arrived!

May 18, 2016

On Monday, the Prospect Park Alliance welcomed a herd of goats to restore woodlands damaged by Hurricane Sandy and other severe storms (including a 2010 tornado!) in the northeast corner of Prospect Park—one of the hardest hit areas, which lost more than 50 trees.

In the absence of trees, invasive plants proliferated, damaging habitat and causing erosion. Removing these weeds is a more complex task than you’d expect. “The area’s steep hillsides present unique challenges for staff and machinery, but are easily accessible to goats,” said Christian Zimmerman, Prospect Park Alliance Vice President of Capital and Landscape Management. 

Meet the goats on Sunday, May 22, at Fun on the Farm, an afternoon of goat-related fun!

The herd of eight goats—a mix of Nubian, Angora and Pygmy breeds—are prodigious climbers and aren’t picky eaters; they have four stomachs and can consume 25 percent of their bodyweight in vegetation each day. They’ll devour the weeds down to their roots, forcing the plants to use all their energy to grow new shoots, only to be eaten by the goats once again. The goats keep eating until eventually the plants do not have enough energy to grow back at all. The goats, contained behind eight-foot-high construction fencing, are provided by Green Goats, a goat farm in Rhinebeck, NY, that specializes in landscape restoration.

“Once their work is complete, we will then plant new native trees and shrubs, including red and white oaks, spicebush and service berry, which will help bring back important habitat for birds and other wildlife,” adds Zimmerman. Prospect Park is home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest. The goats’ work is important not just to beautifying the Park, but also to fortify habitat and food sources for local fauna, including countless native and migratory bird species.

“Woodland restoration has always been an important focus for the Alliance,” said Sue Donoghue, Prospect Park Alliance President. “These goats will provide an environmentally friendly approach to our larger efforts, and help us make the Park more resilient to future storms.”

The Prospect Park Alliance received $727,970 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. The grant not only funds woodland restoration, but historic preservation work in this landscape, known as the Vale of Cashmere. The Alliance also received an additional grant for future work on Lookout Hill, for a total of $1.2 million in funding.

c. Virginia Freire

Experience Brooklyn’s Wild Side

May 13, 2016

On May 22, join the Prospect Park Alliance and Audubon New York for the last program in the series Living Water Explorations at Prospect Park. Open to adults 18 and over, this is a hands-on workshop by the Lullwater, dipping for snails, leeches and dragon fly nymphs! Water testing kits and pond dip nets will be provided. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Register today!

This special series of environmental education programs for Brooklyn residents, which took place this spring, builds off the Alliance’s long relationship with Audubon New York—in 2000 the Alliance and Audubon partnered to establish the first urban-area Audubon Center in the nation. Funded through the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, the program series explores the community of Greenpoint and Prospect Park (all of Brooklyn’s backyard!) to discover the variety of wildlife that flourishes in the borough.

Register Today!

Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Explore Fall Migration

September 17, 2015

Grab your binoculars and tread quietly. Warblers and other songbirds are making their annual migratory journey through Prospect Park. Located along the Atlantic Flyway, Prospect Park is an important destination for birdwatching, and this month is a peak time for the fall migration as birds head to warmer climes.  

Look for rare and familiar species, such as the American Redstart and Warbling Vireo, searching for insects on tree trunks in the Park’s woodland Ravine. Keep your ears open because these delightful creatures will likely be heard before they are seen. For those with sharp eyes, majestic raptors, such as Red-tailed Hawks, can be spotted soaring above the Long Meadow, while Osprey circle the Lake in search for food. Later in the season, look for other waterfowl in the Park, including the American Coot and the Northern Shoveler with its colorful body and black spoon-shaped bill.

At the Prospect Park Audubon Center, the Prospect Park Alliance and Brooklyn Bird Club offer a number of ways to enjoy this ultimate birding season, including Early Morning Bird Walks, Radical Raptor activities at Pop-Up Audubon, and the Bird Nerd Game Hour at the Audubon Center.

Check out our calendar for all birdwatching events.

c. Virginia Freire

Audubon Takes Flight

April 14, 2015

From Nature Play to Bird Nerds Game Hour, this spring the Prospect Park Alliance is offering a slate of new and expanded free nature programs. Starting Saturday, April 18, the Alliance will open the Audubon Center at the historic Boathouse for weekend activities, add a second tent to its popular Pop-Up Audubon program, and launch Discovery Packs, ready-to-go kits filled with activities for families.

“The Alliance offers more than 800 programs serving 75,000 visitors each year throughout the Park, including the Audubon Center,” said Alliance President Sue Donoghue. “Providing families from neighborhoods across Brooklyn – and all over the city – with fun, creative ways to explore and learn about the Park’s natural areas and wildlife is an important part of our mission.”

The Prospect Park Audubon Center was established in 2002 through an innovative partnership between the Prospect Park Alliance and Audubon New York as the first Audubon Center in an urban park. Families are able to directly engage with nature through fun, play-based activities such as bird watching, catch-and-release fishing and citizen science projects. The expanded programming reflects both the popularity of Audubon activities with visitors, as well as the Alliance’s focus on increasing access to Park amenities for surrounding communities. 

Every Saturday and Sunday, the Alliance will offer family-friendly nature programming from 10 am until 1 pm at the Boathouse, such as Nature Play, an innovative game-centered approach to connecting kids with the great outdoors, and Blooming Naturalists, which introduces families to the Park’s vast variety of birds. The Alliance’s popular Pop-Up Audubon program, which launched in 2013 and occurs at locations around the Park, will double the fun with a second tent that explores the Park’s aquatic habitats.

In addition, Discovery Packs will be available at the Audubon Center and new Pop-Up Audubon tent that families can borrow to explore the Park. Similar to Pop-Up Audubon, the Discovery Packs will feature a new theme each month. In April, participants will play Habitat Bingo, searching for specific birds then designing nests. 

Check out the full schedule of programs.

Elizabeth Keegin Colley

8 Things to Enjoy this Spring

March 16, 2015

From family hikes with expert naturalists to performances by chart-topping entertainers, Prospect Park has you covered this spring. We’ve compiled our top eight concerts, programs and events not to miss this season. What are you looking forward to this spring? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #ProspectParkSpring

1. Spring Break

You don’t have to go to the beach to have fun during this annual school break. Join the Alliance at some of your favorite Park destinations, which will have special programming throughout the week. Take a first spin of the season on the Park’s 1912 Carousel, enjoy nature programs at the Audubon Center, plant spring sprouts at the Lefferts Historic House and enjoy the start of the rollerskating season at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

2. Opening Day

Join us April 11 for the Alliance’s annual Opening Day celebration with the Prospect Park Baseball Association. Thousands of players march up Seventh Avenue accompanied by a marching band and other special guests to the Bandshell for the ceremonial first pitch of the season. Play ball!

3. Pop-up Audubon

On April 16, the Prospect Park Alliance introduces twice the Pop-Up Audubon fun with a second tent that explores the aquatic habitats of Prospect Park as well as Discovery Packs, ready-to-go kits filled with fun nature activities for families to explore the Park. April’s theme, Animal Clues, will investigate the birds and wildlife that make their home in the Park near water.

4. Party for the Park

Help support the Park you love on May 14 at the second annual Party for the Park, an unforgettable night of dancing, cocktails and small bites from some of Brooklyn’s favorite chefs and mixologists.

5. Celebrate Brooklyn!

Now in its 37th season, Celebrate Brooklyn! will rock the Bandshell starting June 3 with a free performance by the Queen of Funk, Chaka Khan. Other favorites in this year’s line up are Willie Nelson, Interpol and more. Check our website soon for the full calendar.

6. Lola Star’s Dreamland Disco 

Lola Star’s Dreamland Disco will return to the LeFrak Center at Lakeside for another season of weekly themed rollerskating dance parties featuring your favorite hits from the 1970s and ‘80s. 

7. New York Philharmonic

There are few experiences more peaceful than listening to the sounds of the New York Philharmonic as you’re stretched out on a blanket in the Long Meadow. Help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Concerts in the Park at this annual event, taking place this year on June 19. Members at the Arborist level and above will receive special access. Become a member today. 

8. Pop Up Dinner Brooklyn

Keep an eye out for the announcement of the second annual Pop-Up Dinner Brooklyn, an evening where thousands of Park lovers, dressed in white, picnic under the stars at secret location in Prospect Park.  See photos from last years’s event. Members will receive early access to presale tickets. Become a member today. 

 

PPA Profiles: Woodlands Youth Crew

November 20, 2014

Since 1997, local high school students have been instrumental in the restoration of Prospect Park’s 250 acres of fragile woodlands, Brooklyn’s last remaining forest. In the process, they have gained valuable skills and learned the importance of Park stewardship. By countering erosion, removing invasive vegetation, and planting native species, the Woodlands Youth Crew has given new life to some of the most damaged areas of the Park while teaching inner-city youth about environmental preservation and park stewardship.

View our video featuring the 2014 Woodlands Youth Crew. 

Martin Seck

Enjoy Fall Foliage in Prospect Park

November 1, 2014

For a true taste of autumn in New York, there are few places more spectacular that Prospect Park. Daily visitors will notice the transformation throughout the Park as the canopies turn from lush green to brilliant amber and gold. In preparation for the changing season, we’ve suggested some of our favorite routes through Prospect Park to check out the stunning fall foliage.

Peninsula to Lookout Hill
While it’s difficult to pinpoint when and where the leaves will begin to change, the horse chestnuts on the Peninsula are typically the first to hint at the start of the season. The woodland paths will guide you through a variety of species, providing some of the most scenic lakeside views in the Park. After winding around the Lake, cross Wellhouse Drive to Lookout Hill, the Park’s highest point, where you will find raspberry bushes with leaves turning red as well as yellow-leaf tulip trees.

Lullwater and Nethermead
Starting at Lullwater Bridge, follow the shoreline toward the Nethermead, where you’ll find some of the earliest signs of the autumnal transition. The watercourse hosts tall maples and London Plane trees that have already begun to change color and drop their leaves.

Ravine to Long Meadow
Walk through the Nethermead Arches and up the slope to the woodland Ravine.  While it might be difficult to see the tops of the towering oak trees, shrubs like viburnum and serviceberry in the understory will begin to show signs that the fall has arrived.

Grand Army Plaza to Meadowport Arch
One of the most intimate places in Prospect Park is a small oval path just inside its northernmost entrance. Enter the Park at Grand Army Plaza near Prospect Park West, and head toward the Meadowport Arch. You’ll come to a gingko, Nyssa and Japanese Maple. If you catch these trees at the right time, you’ll find them cascading with color from the top down.  From there, the trees begin to change along the Long Meadow like a chain reaction.

 

c. Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Take a Fall Foliage Walk

October 22, 2014

One of the best walks to enjoy the fall foliage is a route that will take you across the Long Meadow and through the Ravine, the woodland centerpiece of Prospect Park and one of Brooklyn’s last remaining forests. Enjoy scenic views not only of the Park’s majestic trees, including native species such as Red Maples, Sugar Maples, Sour Gums, Sweetgums, Sassafras, and Hackberry, but also rustic bridges, streams and waterfalls. You can find maps at most Park entrances to help you find your way.

Starting from Grand Army Plaza, take the eastern pathway to the Endale Arch into the Long Meadow. At nearly one mile, it is one of the longest green spaces in an American urban park, and provides sweeping views of some of the Park’s more established trees. Also this time of year, you’re likely to see at least three different species of Raptors, including Broad-Winged, Coopers and Red-Tailed Hawks.

Follow the hex-block path along the east side of the Long Meadow 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 at this time of year. 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.

Throughout the walk, keep your eyes peeled for an assortment of birds that make the Park home in the fall months, including Downy and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Black and White Warblers, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Robins, Mourning Doves and Cardinals.

c. Martin Seck

Water, Water Everywhere!

July 1, 2014

Summer is heating up in Prospect Park, and with plenty of water-filled fun, it is the perfect place to cool off. At the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, enjoy a serene afternoon exploring Brooklyn’s only lake and take in scenic views of the White Levy Esplanade and Chaim Baier Music Island. 

Is water play more your family’s speed? In addition to the great water features located in the Park’s playgrounds, there’s a new place for children to soak up the summer fun. Open seven days a week, the new Splash Pad at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside has more than 40 sprays to cool down on a hot day. Before cooling off, work up a sweat roller skating around the covered rink, with new programs this summer including Toddler Tuesdays. Afterwards, enjoy some frozen treats from the LeFrak Center’s Bluestone Café and take in the park views and lake breeze.

On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, families can also enjoy the Pop-Up Audubon Macy’s Fishing Clinics at the White Levy Esplanade at Lakeside and across the Lake at Wellhouse Drive. This family-friendly clinic will teach children how to tie a fishing knot, cast a line, and even collect their own bait.

With boating, water play and catch-and-fishing to enjoy, this might be the best Prospect Park summer yet. Share the fun on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at #prospectparksummer. We’ll select the best summer images for our Photo of the Week.

PPA Profiles: Eve Schwartz

January 2, 2014

Anyone who has attended nature programs at the Prospect Park Audubon Center has likely met Eve Schwartz, an educator with the Prospect Park Alliance. A Philadelphia native, Eve has worked at the Alliance since June of last year, and is part of the team that designs all of the educational programs and exhibits about the Park’s natural habitats. She is extremely fond of the center’s collection of live animals, particularly a Albino Black Rat Snake named Chester.

You obviously enjoy working at the Prospect Park Audubon Center. What is your favorite part of your job?
I grew up next to a nature center in Philadelphia. I love sharing my love of nature with new people, so the Alliance’s educational programs are very special to me. Every day I get to connect people with a world they rarely see.

What are some of the questions that people ask at the Audubon Center?
About 60 percent of the people ask about birding. It’s very big in Prospect Park. During the summer, a lot of people ask us about fishing, too.

Why do you think that Prospect Park is such a popular place for birding, especially in the winter?
People don’t think of New York City as being a warm place in the winter, but compared to Canada, where many of these birds originate, the Park is actually a very hospitable environment. Among the species that make the Park their home during the winter months are Juncos, Chipping Sparrows, American Pipits and, occasionally, a Pine Siskin.

Where is your favorite spot to birdwatch in Prospect Park?
To see a variety of species, I like the Lullwater Trail, which goes from the Boathouse up to Breeze Hill, and it is very scenic. I’m a big fan of waterfowl, and it’s the best place to see them. I also like to go to the Vale of Cashmere at the northeast corner of the Park to see the warblers.

What goes into creating educational programs and exhibits?
I consider the season and animals we’d like to highlight. The goal is to make people into human field guides. When people understand nature, they are more likely to protect it and share their knowledge.

Join Eve and the rest of the education team on January 20 at the Audubon Center for Martin Luther King Jr. Day programs.