In Staten Island's Bluebelt, you will find the "Heart of Southeast Annadale". In 1972, the City of New York acquired 26 acres in this area. From the early 1960s, citizens had been concerned about this land and its environs, which had been a paradise for abandoned vehicles. These Staten Islanders tried, for over three decades, to preserve the land. Over the years, as residents began to protect more and more of the surrounding area, more land was obtained by New York City. By 2001, the City had acquired well over 200 acres of land. Today, this land is between Arbutus Avenue and Barclay Avenue to the left and right, and Amboy Road and Hylan Boulevard above and below. It is known as Blue Heron Park.
The entrance to Blue Heron Park lies on Poillon Avenue, a street which runs through the center of the park. As you walk through the entrance, you will be greeted by a hand-sculpted blue heron, which represents the park. The park was dedicated on October 22, 1996. Around this time, many changes were made to the park. This included the erection of a Visitors Center, which is located right inside the entrance of the park.
There are several rooms inside the Visitors Center, such as classrooms, a library, and exhibit areas. The Urban Park Rangers and the community group, the Friends of Blue Heron Park, provide storytelling, nature walks, and much more. There are some special holiday events which occur yearly here, such as Easter Egg Decorating. In addition to these events, there are also classes that visitors may take to learn a certain trade or hobby. These include classes on how to crochet, do yoga, tie knots, and capture digital images in black and white.
While the park may be popular for the above events and classes, the main attraction of the park is much more delicate. During the 1996 makeover, the habitats of Blue Heron Park were improved. These habitats are those of the many species of wildlife which dwell in this wonderful nature preserve. From the Visitors Center, you will find three different trails which stretch throughout the park. Along these trails, you will find a few ecosystems, each with their own species of flora and fauna.
The park is populated mostly by avifauna and piscifauna. One of the most popular species of avifauna here, if you haven't already guessed, is the Great Blue Herons. The piscifauna exist in this park because there are six ponds with Blue Heron Park. These ponds were left over by the Wisconsin Glacier thousands of years ago. Of the six ponds within the park, the largest is the 1.75-acre Spring Pond. In this "pond", you will see many tree stumps just above the surface of the water. The second largest pond, and also the most popular, is the 1.4-acre Blue Heron Pond. It is around this pond where you will see the famous blue herons. Aside from these ponds, there are a number of streams which run into Raritan Bay.
All throughout the park, you will see various types of flora. In a certain section of the park, however, there is an area with a vast diversity of plant life. This portion of the park was sighted by William T. Davis, during his prominence as a local naturalist on Staten Island I the first half of the twentieth century. Davis had apparently pegged this site as the Field of Ten Thousand Lilies. This was due to the fact that Turk's cap lilies flourished in this field, amongst many other species of flowers. Today, the lilies, along with many other types of plants, have become quite rare in the area, but that just makes the field all the more unique.