Improvement Project Supports Adventure NY Initiative to Connect New Yorkers with Nature
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the completion of the much-anticipated elevated boardwalk trail with mobility features at the Saint Francis Woodlands, Staten Island.
DEC Commissioner Seggos said, "DEC continues to expand accessible recreation across the state to encourage New Yorkers to get outside and experience nature. Today we are excited to announce the completion of this breathtaking trail, which will allow people of all abilities and families with children in strollers to enjoy the beautiful features in the Saint Francis Woodlands."
Made of recycled composite lumber decking and rails, the boardwalk trail traverses the property and connects the parking lot located on Helena Road with the popular walk around Priory Pond. The trail has multiple viewing spots along its route and includes a 35-foot bridge that takes visitors over the site's wetlands and streams. Boardwalk visitors will experience multiple changes in elevation that provide unique vantage points from which to take in the wildlife and flora present in this beautiful part of Staten Island. At the peak of the boardwalk trail, a 10' x 15' observation platform overlooks a vernal pool that is habitat for reptiles, amphibians, and many bird species that frequent the property.
St. Francis Woodlands encompasses a beautiful and diverse 25 acres of peaceful wooded property. Popular activities include wildlife and nature viewing, bird watching, and nature photography, as well as hiking through the Greenbelt Trails. For a virtual experience of the new elevated boardwalk, visit DEC's YouTube channel. The project was funded with $1 million from NY Works.
This past summer, DEC and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation launched the PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL Campaign to encourage all New Yorkers to recreate safely, responsibly, and locally and to always treat fellow outdoor adventurers with respect. During the State's ongoing response to COVID-19, New Yorkers across the state want and need to get outside for a nature break, which is good for physical and mental health. The campaign includes common sense guidelines for smart and safe recreation, incorporating social distancing and wearing a face mask, planning trips ahead, choosing a destination close to home because public restrooms and restaurants may not be open, and visiting at off hours. The agencies are also encouraging New Yorkers to take the pledge and use the hashtag #PlaySmartPlaySafePlayLocal when sharing their outdoor adventures on social media.
New Yorkers are strongly advised to plan their outdoor adventures ahead of time and choose alternate destinations if their first choice is closed or crowded. Check the New York State Parks website and 511NY website for park capacity closure alerts, and visit the DECinfo locator to find the nearest DEC-managed lands. DEC and State Parks websites also feature guidelines to help New Yorkers safely engage in outdoor activities including swimming, hunting, fishing, boating, golf, and hiking. Indoor spaces and restrooms at State Parks and DEC public facilities may remain closed out of an abundance of caution to prevent community spread of COVID-19, so New Yorkers are encouraged to stay local, within their region, and use the #RecreateLocal hashtag on social media.
Under Governor Cuomo's Adventure NY initiative (PDF), DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active outdoor recreation, connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors, protect natural resources, and boost local economies. Read more about Adventure NY (PDF, 10.5 MB).