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Pelham Bay Park

Thomas Pell Wildlife Refuge

Borough: Bronx

Acres: 371

Habitat Type: Salt Marsh, Forest

Map: PDF

The Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary makes up the westerly part of Pelham Bay Park (2,764 acres). Included within its bounds are Goose Creek Marsh and the saltwater wetlands adjoining the Hutchinson River as well as Goose Island, Split Rock, and the oak-hickory forests bordering the Split Rock Golf Course. The area is home to a variety of wildlife including raccoon, egrets, hawks, and the occasional ibis or coyote. The Sanctuary is named for Thomas Pell, the first European to control the land. Pell signed a treaty with the Siwanoy, the Native American tribe that previously occupied this area, in 1654, marking the first time a Briton owned significant property near Dutch New Amsterdam.

In 1963, the City began landfill operations near this area on Tallapoosa Point in Pelham Bay Park. In 1966, plans were made to expand this landfill, which would have created the City’s second-largest refuse disposal site next to Fresh Kills in Staten Island. These plans were met with widespread community opposition led by Councilmember Mario Merola, later Bronx District Attorney. The struggle resulted in the creation of the sanctuaries by a local law, signed by Mayor John V. Lindsay on October 11, 1967.


By Car: From 95 take exit 8B toward Orchard Beach/City Island. Stay straight to go onto Shore Drive. Cross the bridge and pass one intersection and go around the traffic circle to stay on Shore Road North. The entrance to the Split Rock and Pelham Bay Golf Courses is on the left. The entrance to the wildlife refuge is at the bridle path accessible from the Split Rock Golf Course.
From the Hutchinson River Parkway, take Exit 5 for Pelham Bay Park. Go ¾ around the traffic circle onto Shore Road North. Follow above driving directions to the refuge.
Public Transit: Take the 6 train, Bx5, Bx12, Bx29, or Bx14 bus to the Pelham Bay Park Station. Transfer to the Westchester No. 45 bus, which stops a few blocks north of the entrance to the Split Rock and Pelham Bay Golf Courses. Walk south to the entrance to the golf courses on the right side of the road, and the entrance to the refuge is at the bridal path accessible from the Split Rock course.

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