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Alley Pond Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, June 9, 2004

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY HAS NEW YORKERS “TAKING A HIKE”


Photo by Spencer T Tucker

Commissioner Adrian Benepe kicked off a weekend celebration of New York City’s park nature trails on Thursday, June 3, by helping to blaze trails at Alley Pond Park in Queens. The event publicized National Trails Day NYC, held this past Saturday, June 5. Joined by representatives from Eastern Mountain Sports, Backpacker Magazine, Metro Trails, Alley Pond Park and fifth-grade students from P.S. 173, Commissioner Benepe began the morning’s events by asking everyone to observe 60 seconds of silence, in order to appreciate the sounds of nature. "There are about 8.1 million people in New York, yet you can come to a place in the woods with 100-year-old trees and woodland birds and still hear the sounds of Mother Nature," Commissioner Benepe remarked.

As Commissioner Benepe and his student helpers shoveled wood chips and laid logs, attendees took in the crisp, summer air and enjoyed trail mix and snacks courtesy of Balance Bar. Marty Grossman, an Alley Pond Park volunteer, said National Trails Day is a great way to generate the public interest in helping to maintain parks and trails. "We need all the volunteers we can get," said Grossman. "They really make a big difference in working to upkeep the parks and its trails."

National Trails Day NYC took place in parks throughout the city, including Highbridge Park in Manhattan, Marine Park in Brooklyn, High Rock Park in Staten Island, Alley Pond Park in Queens, and Pelham Bay Park and Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and along the Bronx River.

A variety of local organizations and community groups from around the city participated in National Trails Day. Groups large and small helped to restore trails by clearing pathways, planting flowers, and aiding in light gardening work. "We had a lot of hands to help us blaze the trail," said Dorothy Reilly, Director of Public Relations for the Greenbelt Conservancy in Staten Island. "What would have taken a few days or longer, was done in just one day."

Reilly and others constructed a new trail leading to a building in High Rock Park. John Dorn, Editor of Backpacking Magazine and Celina Montorfano, Director of Conservation Programs at the American Hiking Society, were among some of the volunteers on hand to help with trail restoration and planting vegetation in Staten Island.

In the Bronx, National Trails day participants enjoyed a six-mile canoe trip along the Bronx River. The purpose of the trip was to explore the area and gain public interest in parks, explained Elyse Leon, an outreach coordinator for the Bronx River Alliance.

National Trails Day began twelve years ago when the American Hiking Society instituted an annual event to celebrate the beautiful trails throughout the United States. The organization promotes hiking as a way to stay healthy and fit, and encourages communities to become stewards of their local trails.

National Trails Day NYC is sponsored by Parks & Recreation’s Natural Resources Group and Urban Park Rangers, Partnerships for Parks, Greenbelt Conservancy, NY/NJ trails conference, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx River Alliance, Balance Bar, EMS, and Backpacker. Thanks to the volunteers, private sponsors and community organizations, New Yorkers can take a hike on new, restored trails as the summer season begins. Special thanks also to David Kovall and Parks & Recreations Marketing and Special Events division for coordinating this meaningful day of special events across the five boroughs.

Written by Melissa Kuhn

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"Everybody is looking at everybody else—a foolish crowd walking on mirrors."

Wallace Stevens

(1879–1955)

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