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PR- 345-07
September 26, 2007


70-acre Natural Salt Marsh to be Designated Public Parkland as Part of Effort to Protect City’s Ecosystem

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the preservation of Arlington Marsh, a major wetlands area on the northwest corner of Staten Island. The 70-acre natural salt marsh will be transferred to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and dedicated as public parkland for preservation.  The announcement comes as the New York City Wetlands Transfer Task Force, created in 2005 to formulate strategies to ensure the survival of the City’s urban wetlands, submits its citywide recommendations to Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn.

“Staten Island’s Arlington Marsh is one of the last remaining natural wetlands in New York City, and its preservation is a major step forward in our effort to protect our natural ecological resources as outlined in PlaNYC,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “Over time, the more than 100 square miles of natural wetlands that once existed within New York City have been reduced to just 14, and we have a responsibility to see to it that that trend is halted.  I want to thank the Wetland Transfer Task Force for its work over the past two years, and I look forward to reviewing all of its recommendations.”

“Arlington Marsh is exactly the kind of resource we were looking to protect when the Council passed legislation creating the Wetlands Transfer Task Force,” said Speaker Quinn.  “By designating it as public parkland, we are preserving native wildlife and open space for future generations of New Yorkers, as well as protecting a crucial component of our City's environment.  I want to thank Council Members Gennaro and McMahon for their hard work advocating for this preservation, as well as Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Benepe for making these projects a continued priority.”

“Preserving wetlands is essential to our environment because they provide habitats for a variety of species of plants, birds, reptiles, fish, and microbes,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe.  “They also provide natural water quality improvement, shoreline erosion control, and flood protection.  We are grateful to the Wetlands Transfer Task Force for its hard work and look forward to playing an expanded role in preserving irreplaceable public wetlands.”

In August 2005, Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council created a task force to inventory City-owned wetlands in the metropolitan area and to determine the technical, legal, environmental and economical feasibility of transferring these wetlands to the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks & Recreation.  The Wetlands Transfer Task Force is comprised of seven individuals, four appointed by the Mayor and three by the City Council. The report recommends the transfer of 80 parcels totaling just over 220 acres to Parks.

“The Task Force's identification of more than 220 acres of city-owned wetlands that should be permanently protected will help ensure that these ecosystems continue to protect the coastal property and the environmental health of New Yorkers,” said Council Member James Gennaro, who chairs the Council's Committee on Environmental Protection and helped create the Task Force. “I am particularly appreciative that the Task Force members recommended protection of Arlington Marsh Cove on Staten Island. It is terrific that this irreplaceable wetland will continue to inspire successive generations of New Yorkers.”

“This is very good news for the people of Staten Island and I am gratified that the Administration through Deputy Mayor Doctoroff's office heard the unanimous voice of the people,” said Council Member Michael E. McMahon.  “This 70 acres of property - instead of becoming another industrial site - will become an environmental gem on the North Shore of Staten Island and an important addition to the North Shore greenbelt.”

“I commend Mayor Bloomberg for once again not only understanding the importance of adding beautiful parkland for our residents, but taking action on it,” said State Senator Andrew J. Lanza. “The mayor's action will forever protect this sensitive and beautiful land, and further establish Staten Island as the borough of parks.  I thank Mayor Bloomberg on behalf of the people of Staten Island.”

“I congratulate the Mayor and the City Council for their decision to protect one of the last remnants of our city’s original wetlands,” said State Senator Diane J. Savino.  “Preserving Arlington Marsh means preserving habitat for the numerous species of migrating birds and marine life; it also means generations to come will have the opportunity to experience firsthand this precious corner of our ecosystem.”

“Today’s announcement is great news for Staten Island and our environment,” said Assembly Member Michael Cusick. “Preserving Arlington Marsh will benefit our borough for generations to come.”

Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Not only do they provide habitats for a variety of species of plants, reptiles, birds and fish; they also provide natural water quality improvement, shoreline erosion control and flood protection for the City of New York. As a result of urbanization, the more than 100 square miles of wetlands that historically existed within the New York City limits have now been depleted to approximately 14 square miles.

“Arlington Marsh is one of the last, best, unprotected coastal wetlands in New York Harbor, and a priority for the environmental community for more than 20 years,” said Robert Pirani, Director of Environmental Programs at Regional Plan Association and Co-Chair of the Wetlands Transfer Task Force.  “The Mayor’s actions today ensures that it will remain a sanctuary for wildlife and people forever. The leadership of Councilmen McMahon and Gennaro has been instrumental in protecting this vital open space.”
“This is tremendous news, not only for Staten Island but for the larger ecological health of the New York Harbor,” said Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “With salt marshes rapidly dwindling all over the East Coast, Arlington Marsh is vitally important as one of the last major tidal wetlands in New York City. By extending Parks Department protection to Arlington Marsh, Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Benepe are ensuring that it will continue to flourish as a habitat for birds and fish, and we salute the City’s leadership.”

“Arlington Marsh is one of the last, great undeveloped wetlands on the New York City waterfront,” said Andy Darrell, director of Living Cities at Environmental Defense. “Surrounded by development, it is a refuge for migrating shorebirds, a natural water purifier and a pocket of wilderness. Protecting it now is a far-sighted investment in the city's ecology. With the right care, Arlington Marsh will become a place of natural wonder on the city's industrialized shoreline.”

“NYC Audubon applauds Mayor Bloomberg for preserving one of the finest and most productive salt-water marshes remaining in the City,” said Glenn Phillips, Executive Director of New York City Audubon. “This property has been a top priority for acquisition as parkland because of its importance for waterbirds and fish, and its role as a connector between Mariner’s Marsh and the Kill Van Kull. Moving properties such as this into the stewardship of the Department of Parks & Recreation will ensure that future generations of New Yorkers may enjoy clean water and the experience of nature within the city.”

“Arlington Marsh is the largest remaining intact salt marsh on Staten Island's north shore.  It is a hidden gem in New York City,” said Rose Harvey, Senior Vice President and Regional Director for The Trust for Public Land.  “We applaud Mayor Bloomberg for taking such bold steps to protect our precious remaining natural heritage.”

“The transfer of Arlington Marsh to the Parks Department is very good news,” said Andrew Willner, Executive Director of NY/NJ Baykeeper. “The Marsh comprises about 90 acres, 30 upland acres and 60 acres of marshland and is one of the last major tidal wetland complexes still in existence in New York City and is both a wildlife sanctuary and a community amenity.”

“The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance applauds the Mayor for balancing the growth of our dynamic port with the ecological need to protect and preserve our wetlands,” said Roland Lewis, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. “This approach to waterfront development is the essence of PlaNYC to both grow the economic engine of the city and improve the quality of life and health in all of our neighborhoods.”

“Marshlands are our most productive ecosystems,” said Don Riepe, Director of the Northeast Chapter of the American Littoral Society.  “Having Arlington Marsh turned over to the Parks is a great addition to our City’s natural areas.”


Stu Loeser / Jason Post   (212) 788-2958


Warner Johnston   (Department of Parks & Recreation)
(212) 360-1311

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