Hybrid Oak Woods Park, Tottenville Staten Island

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on Friday, January 4th, 2013 at 3:21pm.

The South Shore of Staten Island is well-known for having acres upon acres of wetlands.  With all of the housing developments that had taken place in the twentieth century, these wetland areas began to disappear.  In 1994, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation created a Natural Resources Damages Program known as the Jamaica Bay Damages Account.  This program was created in an attempt to restore, replace, or acquire wetland areas that had been affected "as a result of a release of hazardous substances from five landfills within New York City",
Brookfield Landfill being the one in Staten Island.  In the five boroughs, there were eighty-two project proposals proposed for the program.

Of the eighty-two projects proposed, eight had been designated as being top priority issues.  Third on the list was the acquisition of Long Pond, Butler Manor, and the Paw-Paw Woods, all close to the southern tip of Staten Island.  In 2007, an update was given on the Jamaica Bay Damages Account's progress.  At that time, Long Pond and Butler Manor had both been acquired.  The Paw-Paw Woods, however, had been left unchanged.

The Paw-Paw Woods, now known as Tottenville Wetlands Paw-Paw Hybrid Oak Woods Park, has been a significant place on Staten Island since the latter part of the nineteenth century.  In 1888, Staten Island historian and naturalist William T. Davis discovered willow oaks and hybrid oaks there, which are quite rare for the area.  Another species that has been growing at the site is that of the paw-paw, which is naturally only found in the Midwest section of New York State.  It is said that seeds for this plant had been obtained from Indiana and planted on the site during the early 1900s.  While it normally wouldn't grow in this spot, the pawpaws have continued to do so since that time.  Along with the rare plant species found in the Tottenville Wetlands Paw-Paw Hybrid Oak Woods Park, migratory birds visit the park utilize the fresh water that the park brings to the Raritan Bay.

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