- Title: Landfill turned park proves nature's resilience
- Date: 31st August 2017
- Summary: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (AUGUST 24, 2017) (REUTERS) WIDE VIEW OF FRESHKILLS PARK FROM NORTH MOUND, CAPPED IN 1997 MANHATTAN SKYLINE VARIOUS OF TIDAL CREEK CAIT FIELD, MANAGER FOR SCIENCE AND RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT, FRESHKILLS PARK STANDING (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRESHKILLS PARK MANAGER FOR SCIENCE AND RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT, CAIT FIELD, SAYING: "There's really a lot of wildlife that's started to come back and uses this as a grassland habitat and for us it's interesting to watch because it's not the native ecosystem. So this was all tidal wetlands. Now it's grasslands. It kind of gives us this sort of time point zero that is rarely available in this type of ecology work to see what comes back when and how successful it is." WIDE VIEW OF PARK GRASS OSPREY IN FLIGHT OSPREY SITTING BY NEST (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRESHKILLS PARK MANAGER FOR SCIENCE AND RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT, CAIT FIELD, SAYING: "We have about eight osprey nests on site that are successful. The ospreys hunt the fish that are in the creeks here. We have this year about 45 nesting pairs of grasshopper sparrows which was not expected whatsoever, as they're very uncommon. And we see a lot of other bird species as well. We see kestrels in the winter, we even see snowy owls hunting here, and we see a lot of mammals too." CREEK VARIOUS OF ATLANTIC SILVERSIDE IN CREEK MORE OF PARK (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRESHKILLS PARK MANAGER FOR SCIENCE AND RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT, CAIT FIELD, SAYING: "When it rains on these hills now, all of that rainwater can't go all the way into the ground like it normally would because it's a capped landfill. So it's all collected and channeled into detention basins, or basically freshwater ponds. So we also have all of these new ponds that are suddenly created in the middle of an urban environment. And we have work here that's also done by other researchers at the College of Staten Island looking at how those ponds start to change and how they start to actually look like much older ponds on Staten Island. So we try to do that with most of our habitats here. We also have work being conducted by the U.S. Forest Service seeing which tree species grow best in this type of environment because it's all a little bit unknown." VARIOUS OF METHANE MONITORING STATION INSIDE GRASS VARIOUS OF WEST MOUND, STILL UNDER LANDFILL CLOSURE CONSTRUCTION
- Embargoed: 14th September 2017 13:01
- Keywords: Freshkills Park New York City Fresh Kills landfill wildlife grasshopper sparrow Cait Field College of Staten Island Lisa Manne
- Location: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- City: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Environment,Nature/Wildlife
- Reuters ID: LVA0036WHKBIZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Every 10 days from June to September, College of Staten Island biology professor Lisa Manne brings a group of researchers to Freshkills Park in New York.
After hanging out bird netting at the park's lush South Mound, the team spends the morning banding and weighing birds that they capture in their large nets.
Mostly caught are gray catbirds, a migratory species common in the area, along with northern cardinals and numerous species of flycatchers and warblers.
On Thursday (August 24) the team caught a mockingbird for the first time, also a common species throughout North America.
Manne, examining the bird's wings said the bird is a "hatchling," a newborn that was hatched just weeks before.
This was welcome news for the team, who are researching and sampling bird populations of the park that once was the biggest garbage dump in the world.
"If our species can survive in this environment and persist and thrive that is a real amazing thing for conservation," Manne explained.
"And they're doing just fine," she added.
At the height of its operation Fresh Kills landfill handled 29,000 tons of solid waste daily. It closed in 2001 after functioning almost six decades as the city's dumping ground, after years of lawsuits by citizens claiming against health hazards and the stench of rotting garbage coming from the site.
In 2008 the reclamation project of the landfill was announced, kicking off a 30-year development project transforming the 2,200 acres (890 hectares) of waste into parkland.
Today, almost a decade into the project, the landfill mounds have morphed into lush grassland growing on top of piles of trash, separated by layers of geo-membrane liner and dirt.
As the park is mostly closed to the public, it has been attracting new inhabitants.
Wildlife, previously almost solely consisting of large gull populations, is returning to the area, explained Freshkills' science manager Cait Field.
This year this includes eight pairs of ospreys and 45 nesting pairs of grasshopper sparrows, an endangered species in New York State.
Other birds of prey seen in the park are kestrels and snowy owls, while among the mammals seen are foxes, groundhogs and deer.
The park's unique condition is attracting scientists, such as those from the U.S. Forest Service, examining which type of trees do best in the environment. Other researchers are looking at turtle populations in fresh water ponds, newly created by channeled rain water streaming down the capped landfills.
"We also have all of these new ponds that are suddenly created in the middle of urban environment. And we have work here that's also done by other researchers at the College of Staten Island looking at how those ponds start to change and how they start to actually look like much older ponds on Staten Island," Field explained.
One of the few reminders of the park's wasteful past is methane collecting points dotting the grasslands. The decomposing waste beneath the ground produces large quantities of methane gas captured and sold to National Grid, the main natural gas provider in the area, generating $12 million dollars (USD) in revenue for the city annually.
Freshkills is opening slowly in patches, with a final completion date estimated to be 2036. The park's West Mound is still under active landfill closure construction.
When completed, Freshkills Park will be almost three times the size of Central Park, featuring recreational activities from mountain biking, catch-and-release fishing to kayaking.
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