Civic gurus show off renovated Marine Park hiking trail

Cut it: Parks First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, Assemblymember Jaime Williams, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy Executive Director Alex Zablocki, NYC Program Director at The Nature Conservancy Emily Nobel Maxwell, and Natural Area’s Conservancy Executive Director Sarah Charlop-Powers cut the ribbon.
Justin Bowers

Take a hike!

Kings County green space gurus capped off an extensive effort to renovate Marine Park’s woodlands on May 19, cutting the ribbon on a new two-mile hiking trail and debuting more than 7,000 news trees.

The four-year project focused on improving trail accessibility and protecting wildlife in the borough’s largest park, according to a rep from one organization who participated in the effort.

“Through this multi-year effort, we have literally uncovered the beauty of Marine Park,” said Alex Zablocki of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy. “Today, we welcome visitors to enjoy Marine Park’s newly established two-mile trail that will take them through some of Brooklyn’s most unique coastal habitats.”

Visitors can now hike along the newly debuted route through the entrance near Gerritsen and Seba avenues in Gerritsen Beach.

Prior to the renovation, the quality of trails in the 800-acre park had deteriorated and lacked coherent passageways, said the project manager of the Natural Areas Conservancy.

“The existing trails were in bad condition, and there were no markings, so it was confusing to get around the park. So what we did was formalize two more miles of hiking trails,” said Justin Bowers. “While we were doing that, we made several ecological upgrades to the park.” The park is home to more than 325 species of birds and 100 species of fish, according to the city Parks Department website. Park honchos said the additional trees would serve to protect that wildlife and help the coastal community avoid storm damage.

“Marine Park is one of only two locations in all of New York City that contains what is known as a coastal maritime forest, which provides habitat for rare native plant species, as well as an array of native animals and birds,” said Sarah Charlop-Powers. “They’re also often our first line of defense when it comes to protecting our neighborhoods from the adverse effects of climate change, like extreme storms.”

As part of the effort, construction crews removed 14 vehicles that were deserted in the park, according to Bowers, who speculated on the nefarious reasons the cars were abandoned.

“I can’t say for certain, but it’s most likely insurance fraud because they’re burned, so there are no identifiers on the cars,” he said.

The Nature Conservancy, along with over 400 volunteers, contributed to the project, according to Bowers, who said the effort achieved its goals of easing access to the park’s trails.

“I think it looks great,” he said. “I’ve already heard from people who tell me the new trial markings make it easier to get around in the park.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.
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