Arverne East Urban Nature Preserve

Fall is the best time to hike, walk, spy migratory birds, and embrace the changing leaf landscape. And we don’t have to make a trip up to Hudson to enjoy all that. NYC Parks offers us diverse natural and urban landscapes with endless exploring and learning opportunities. Would you guess we have over 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreation areas throughout the five boroughs? I was impressed to read that number.

Fall foliage at the Arverne East Nature Preserve Rockaway

I’d estimate a few hundred of those green spaces are in Rockaway. It’s fair to say we’ve all noticed the lovely new parks along the boardwalk – the labyrinth, the pickleball court, the adventure course (my favorite), the dog park, the parkway multi-purpose area with a volleyball court, stadium seating, the lawn and what about the new colorfully designed kids playgrounds – all of which are nestled within native gardens, cute seating and picnicking areas.

But there’s a sweet hidden gem a short bike ride away in Edgemere that has slipped through the community collective. Maybe it goes unseen because its perfectly native camouflage meshes seamlessly with the coastline. I’m talking about The Arverne East Nature Preserve. My Insta friend Gordon (a former Park Ranger, oh so cool!) reminded me of the park. We chatted about the lack of press around its opening which happened this past June. I’ve been meaning to “blow it up” in my column so here goes…

The Nature Preserve is an impressive 32 acres of native coastal vegetation with paths for walking and biking. The access points are located off the boardwalk at  Beach 44th and Beach 56th streets. You can also enter via Edgemere Avenue at 44th where there is parking (ADA  compliant). At this entry, you’ll see a modern building constructed of beautiful vertical wood slats (teak?). This will be a Parks Dept. base and a multi-purpose community center for activities, learning, events, and other purposes. I’m excited to see what happens there and how we as a community can utilize this space.

Boarded-pathway-Arverne East Nature Preserve Rockaway

The paths blend harmoniously with the surrounding nature following the organic shapes of the environment. The material varies from synthetic boards to cement. The boards immediately brought me back to childhood memory – a field trip to Sunken Forest on Fire Island. I believe that is my first vivid memory of being immersed in nature. I remember the feeling of the boards under my feet, the multi-layered sounds of the birds, and the scents of the salt and soil. In Arverne East Preserve you will have a similar sensory experience with the unique addition of the urban world around you.

In the preserve, you will see pitch pines, goldenrod, aster, evening primrose, common marine grasses like bluestem, reed, and more. These plants create a canvas of bright yellow, burnt orange, warm browns, and calming green hues. The vegetation is strategically designed to be a green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff and support storm projection.

Mixed-use-Fall foliage at the Arverne East Nature Preserve Rockaway

Arverne East Nature Preserve was conceived as a part of the net-zero development in Edgemere which we are now calling Arverne East. The complex will be one of the most environmentally conscious developments in the United States, achieving net zero – meaning human-caused greenhouse gasses are balanced by human-caused carbon dioxide removals over a set time frame. Bravo Rockaway!

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