Last week the National Park Service turned 104 years old. To celebrate, I went to one of NYC’s least-visited natural wonders— Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
I was so happy to let the salty air fill my lungs and give my eyes a rest from screens by focusing on the vistas of salt marshes with the skyline of Manhattan in the distance. The open water, green space, and animals did my mind, body, and soul a world of good. After just a few hours, I felt as energized as I feel after a week of vacation.
I love thinking about how wild and full of biodiversity all of New York City once was, and how so many efforts are being made to keep parts of it wild. My hope is that these terrible pandemics of health, racism, and an unstable economy will be the massive push we need to make our cities greener for all who live in them.
The area around the Refuge reminded me of beachy towns like you’d find in Cape Cod but it’s accessible by public transit for $5.50 round trip and free to enterq! Just take a Far Rockaway-bound A train to Broad Channel. From there it’s a 15-minute walk or short bus ride.
The Wildlife Refuge was created in the 1950s by NYC Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. It became part of the National Park Service in 1972 when Gateway National Recreation Area was established.
It includes over 12,600 acres of water, salt marshes, freshwater and brackish water ponds, upland fields and woods, and open bay and islands. It is one of the largest bird habitats in the northeastern United States and is a great place to observe the seasonal bird migration as well as resident species. 332 different bird species have been recorded there!
I highly recommend a trip to see this beautiful, peaceful, and truly wild place. May we create many more of them in our city.