Salt Marsh Nature Center at Marine Park
Marine Park is Brooklyn’s largest, covering 798 acres. In addition to being a regular city park with sports fields, playgrounds and green space, Marine Park is home to 530 acres of marsh land that is protected as a Forever Wild preserve. At the core is the Salt Marsh Nature Center, which opened on Earth Day in 2000. The preserved area helps maintain the region’s ecosystem. The Nature Center serves as a hub for this offering public education, recreational activities, environmental studies, exhibits, various maps and brochures, tours and many special events. It’s gets additional support from the non-profit, Salt Marsh Nature Center Alliance, which is a predominantly volunteer-based organization that provides environmental education.
Backstory and Context
The Marine Park Preserve includes salt marshes and uplands that flank Gerritsen Creek, the westernmost freshwater inlet of Jamaica Bay. There were once plans to turn it into a thriving port, so the creek was dredged. Then developers came in and bought up land. By 1917, land was offered to the city for use as a park. Much of the area had been filled for both commercial and residential development and was a wasteland for trash for a time. It’s an area protected from the Atlantic Ocean by the Rockaway Peninsula that host more than 325 species of birds, 50 species of butterflies and 100 species of finfish.
The Nature Center and Park are favorite destinations for bird watchers, especially. The Nature Center hosts many educational programs as well as cultural and community events such as concerts, yoga classes, blood drives, biking, canoeing, kayaking and painting. In addition, visitors can begin at the Nature Center and meander along the Salt Marsha Nature Trail to get a glimpse of the area’s unique flora and fauna.
The landscape in the area features salt marsh, wildflowers, sand dunes and thickets of shrubs and vines. Among the list of animals that like to call the area home are myrtle warblers, grasshopper sparrows, cotton-tailed rabbits, ring-necked pheasants, horseshoe crabs and oyster toad fish. The Nature Center is one of 10 Urban Park Ranger Nature Center’s in New York City.