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Contact: Vicky Karp / Tara Kiernan (NYC Parks), 212-360-1311
On Saturday, October 27, New York City Parks Commissioner Veronica White joined National Parks of New York Harbor Commissioner Diane Chalfant, Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Linda Canzanelli, NYC Service Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford, New York State Senator Martin J. Golden, New York State Assembly Member Alan N. Maisel, New York Restoration Project Executive Director Amy Freitag, and more than 400 volunteers at the historic Floyd Bennett Field in Gateway National Recreation Area in Brooklyn to plant 5,000 new trees at the MillionTreesNYC Fall Planting Day. Over the course of the day, 20,000 trees were planted citywide. The day also kicked off 40th anniversary celebrations for Gateway National Recreation Center that will be on-going all year long.
"Today we are celebrating Gateway's past and future by planting 5,000 trees here as part of Mayor Bloomberg's MillionTreesNYC initiative," said Parks Commissioner Veronica White. "As we reflect back on Gateway's 40years, we also look forward to continuing our new partnership with the National Park Service to realize the full potential of this historic site and Jamaica Bay as a whole."
Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Linda Canzanelli said, "By planting native trees at Gateway's Floyd Bennett Field, the National Park Service and NYC Parks literally put down roots together. Like the trees that were planted today, our partnership is a young sapling now. Gateway looks forward to watching it grow and flourish for decades, providing a home for New York City's diverse wildlife and for visitors to enjoy as well. It is the perfect way to celebrate Gateway's 40th birthday and to begin the next 40 years."
"I am excited to see so many New Yorkers out early on a Saturday morning, helping to plant 20,000 trees to make our City a greater and greener place," said NYC's Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford."MillionTreesNYC invites the City's people to truly get their hands dirty and contribute to making the City more a sustainable place to live; NYC Service is proud to partner with an initiative that is so vital to strengthening our urban forests and protecting our environment."
Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn) stated, "Trees go a long way to improving both the look of our City and do much to support a healthy living environment for us all.I applaud these efforts of the New York City Parks Department."
"New York City's efforts to plant trees throughout the city as part of its Million Trees NYC initiative are extremely important and commendable," said New York State Assembly Member Alan N. Maisel. "The 5,000 trees that will be planted in Gateway Park today in a partnership with NYC Parks and the National Park Service is a further demonstration of the City's commitment towards improving the quality of life of all city residents. Trees are vitally important; not only do trees help to clean our air of pollutants making the city a healthier place to live but they will provide a place of refuge for city residents looking for country setting in the midst of our sprawling city."
"To plant 20,000 trees all in one day is a tremendous accomplishment that requires eager partners and volunteers to lend hands," said New York Restoration Project Executive Director Amy Freitag. "NYRP is proud to be a part of this collaboration and to build a healthier, more sustainable and climate-resilient NYC."
Other activities throughout the day included hikes of the trails of the North Forty Natural Area, tours of the renovated Ryan Visitor Center, wilderness skills classes, special tours of historic aircraft at Hangar B, and Gateway's 40th Anniversary Campfire Program which was held in the evening.
Earlier this year, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed an unprecedented agreement between the National Park Service (NPS) and the City of New York to cooperatively manage 10,000 acres of federal and city-owned parks in and around Jamaica Bay, including Gateway and Floyd Bennett Field, to promote visitation, education programs, scientific research and opportunities for outdoor recreation.Saturday's event continued the joint work at Jamaica Bay, in furtherance of goals identified in the President's "America's Great Outdoors" initiative.
Floyd Bennett Field is the quintessential urban park, bringing together a rich natural and human history. Historically part of Jamaica Bay, with extensive salt marsh and wetland communities, Floyd Bennett Field was home to NYC's first municipal airport. The field was created by connecting Barren Island and a number of smaller marsh islands to the mainland by filling the channels between them with sand pumped from Jamaica Bay's bottom.Eventually displaced by LaGuardia and JFK airports, a large part of the landscape has reverted to a coastal maritime community, which supports a wide variety of plant and animal life. Some of the historic aviation buildings are landmarked and still accessible to the public, as are walking trails through the naturalized sections of the park, and the nascent maritime forest present here is one of the few forests of its type remaining in Brooklyn. For more information on Gateway National Recreation Area and Jamaica Bay, visit www.nps.gov/gate.
Other parks hosting MTNYC planting events on Saturday were: Cunningham and Fort Totten Parks in Queens; Conference House Park in Staten Island; Rodman's Neck and Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx; and McGuire Fields in Brooklyn.
MillionTreesNYC, a cornerstone of Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC vision to establish a healthier, more sustainable New York City, is a public-private partnership between the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project, through which one million trees will be planted and cared for throughout the five boroughs by 2017. As part of MillionTreesNYC Parks is reforesting hundreds of acres of parkland into new, ecologically healthy, multi-story forests. New forests help expand canopy cover in New York City, increasing the myriad environmental benefits already provided by our urban forest. Since MillionTreesNYC was launched in October 2007, the initiative has surpassed its halfway mark with 612,000 trees planted prior to Saturday's plantings.For more information, visit www.milliontreesnyc.org.
About Gateway National Recreation Area
Established in 1972, Gateway National Recreation Area offers more than 26,000 acres of marshes, wildlife sanctuaries and recreational athletic facilities, miles of sandy beaches; indoor and outdoor classrooms; picnicking and camping areas, as well as historic structures and military installations, airfields, a lighthouse, and adjacent waters around New York harbor. The park offers urban residents in two states a wide range of recreational opportunities year round. With more than nine million visitors a year, it is the third most visited national park in the country. For information about Gateway's upcoming public programs, see the park's Web site at http://www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm