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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

Region Two Nature Centers

New York City: Bronx, New York, Queens, Kings, and Richmond Counties

New York City can provide wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities. The 9,000-acre Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is a birder's paradise, and thousands of school children enjoy nature programs at the environmental centers throughout the area.

DEC encourages visitors to call ahead to confirm directions, hours of operation and/or user fee information.

Note: by clicking on the links for these environmental centers, you will go off DEC's website.

Alley Pond Environmental Center

228-06 Northern Boulevard
Douglaston, NY 11363-1890
fax: 718-229-0376
Alley Pond Environmental Center Website

Queens County

Program Description: Alley Pond's 5,000-square-foot building and diverse ecosystems provide lessons to 20,000 school children from nearby school districts as well as adult programs on current environmental issues. Contact the center for a bimonthly calendar of events and activities.

Hours: Guided programs available: call for current information. Grounds open sunrise to sunset. Building open Sunday-Saturday, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM.

Fees: Admission and parking are free. Program fees vary.

Buildings: Interpretive center and restrooms

Wheelchair access: Building is accessible

Visitor Focus: Schools, General Public

Picnic Area: Yes

Blue Heron Nature Center

222 Poillon Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10312
Fax: 718-967-5689
Friends of Blue Heron Nature Center Website
Blue Heron Nature Center Website

Richmond County

Program Description: Blue Heron Park is a 250 acre wooded oasis on the south shore of Staten Island. We offer free environmental education programs for patrons of all ages. Programs cover topics that include insects, fish, pond ecology, forest ecology, birds, bats, owls, reptiles, amphibians, Native Americans, history and much more. Our school programs follow the curriculum of the New York's Department of Education and the Scope and Sequence.

In addition, we do Explorer programs that include overnight camping, canoeing, and fresh and saltwater fishing. These programs are free and equipment is provided (except sleeping bags for the camping)!

There are a variety of live animals, including rabbits, reptiles, arthropods and more, for patrons to meet inside the center. Patrons can also check out a variety of different nature books, posters, skulls, skins, and other nature artifacts.

During the summer we host a Nature based day camp. Children ages 8-11 will explore the park's forests, ponds and trails while learning how to read maps, use a compass, identify trees, frogs, snakes, insects, and birds, and skills needed to survive in the woods."

Hours: Center: Tuesdays - Sundays: 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM // Park: Everyday: Dawn to Dusk

Fees: None

Buildings: Nature Center, outside shelter with picnic tables, and restrooms

Wheelchair access: One trail, nature center, and all bathrooms

Visitor Focus: Schools, General Public, Community groups

Picnic Area: Yes, but no cooking

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

1000 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225
Fax: 718-622-7839
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Website

Kings County

Program Description: Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a 52-acre living museum featuring more than 12,000 kinds of plants growing on the grounds and in the Steinhardt Conservatory. BBG offers many Teacher Education programs year-round to show teachers how to use the Garden as an extension of their classroom. Project Green Reach is a specifically funded, hands-on outreach program available to teachers in Brooklyn's Chapter I schools that provides classroom instruction at the school site, a visit to BBG, and supplies for a community project. Also, School Workshops are for school groups ages Kindergarten through 12th grade who want to schedule a visit to BBG and learn about topics such as "Seed Adventures," "Floatable Flora," "Plants we Eat," "Pharoah's Pharmacy" and more. Lastly, the Children's Garden program is a way for kids of all ages to learn to plant, tend and harvest their own vegetables and flowers.

Hours: October-March: Tuesday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM; Weekends and holidays, 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM April-September: Tuesday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM; Weekends and holidays, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Fees: Adults (16 and over) are $8; children under 12 are free; seniors and students with valid ids are $4; school groups are always free. All day Tuesdays and from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM (noon) on Saturdays are always free. The garden does not charge weekday admission from mid-November to mid-March.

Buildings: Steinhardt Conservatory to display plants year round including the Tropical Pavilion, the Warm-Temperate Pavilion, the Desert Pavilion, the Aquatic House, the Trail of Evolution, and the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum. Steinhardt Conservatory also includes: an indoor exhibit for children, "Amazing Plants," an indoor art exhibition space, and the Terrace Café. Visitor Center and auditorium; with payphones and restrooms in several locations.

Wheelchair access: Buildings and most of the paths and gardens are wheelchair-accessible

Visitor Focus: Schools, general public

Picnic Area: No food may be brought into the Garden. However, food is available for purchase at the Terrace Cafe.

Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve

NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
83 Nielsen Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10309
Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve Website

Richmond County

Program Description: This 250-acre tract has a variety of habitats including ponds, bogs, sandy pine barrens, mature woodlands and spring-fed streams. Programs include guided and self-guided nature tours, historical field trips, lectures, films, gardening programs, hiking, horseback riding and bird watching.

Hours: Guided programs, by appointment.

Fees: None

Buildings: Interpretive center, restrooms

Wheelchair access: Building is accessible.

Visitor Focus: Schools, General Public

Picnic Area: Yes

Greenbelt Nature Center

NYC Parks & Recreation
700 Rockland Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10314
Fax: 718-351-3556
Greenbelt Nature Center Website

Richmond County

Program Description: Greenbelt Nature Center, a dynamic 5,440 square foot multi-use community facility in heart of the Staten Island Greenbelt, offers environmental education programming, outdoor programs for families, citizen science programs, nature-related workshops, wellness programs such as Yoga and Tai-Chi, room rentals for weddings and parties, a summer mini-camp for ages 3-5, weekend "Into the Outdoors" programs, and other events and programs.

Hours: April-October: Tues.-Sun. 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM // November-March: Wed.-Sun. 11:00 AM -5:00 PM

Fees: To visit the nature center itself is free of charge, but there are fees for class trips, birthday parties, room rentals, and some weekend programs. Additionally, Greenbelt Nature Center has a gift shop with various nature-themed items.

Buildings: The Greenbelt Nature Center, a 5,440 square foot facility, was designed in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright and sits in harmony with the surrounding forest. Greenbelt Nature Center opened in June 2004. Over 20,000 visitors per year visit Greenbelt Nature Center for programs, events, and information.

Handicap Accessible: The Nature Center was designed with ADA compliance in mind. The Nature Center, parking lot, and bathrooms are fully accessible.

Visitor Focus: The Greenbelt Nature Center has a number of touch screens and other interactive exhibits which provides visitors with a natural history and virtual tour of the Greenbelt. Visitors can experience the sights and sounds of all four seasons in the forest. The visitor experience is enhanced by various rotating displays of art.

Picnic Area: No picnic tables, but there are several wooden park benches to enjoy a leisurely lunch or simply sit in the shade.

High Rock Park Environmental Education Center

Greenbelt Conservancy, Inc.
200 Nevada Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10306
Fax: 718-979-5922
High Rock Park Environmental Education Center Website

Richmond County

Program Description: High Rock Park Environmental Education Center (HRPEEC) is administered by NYC's Department of Parks and Recreation and the Greenbelt Conservancy. Inc. The HRPEEC offers environmental education programs, family workshops, senior citizen classes, fine art workshops, Grades 5-12 hands-on Nature Labs, guided hikes, school programs for PreK- Grade 12, internships, Summer Day Camp, and special events. Also, available for members is a quarterly kids' science magazine.

Hours: Monday - Friday: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM; year round, Nature Center is also opened on Saturday to the public

Fees: Free programs, $25 deposit (refundable), and $100 for two week camp session

Buildings: HRPEEC: Roosevelt Lab Classroom; Art in Nature studio; Nature Center/Visitor's Building-- accessibility based on appointment and program registration

Wheelchair access: Yes! Bathrooms, designated trails & buildings, parking also available

Visitor Focus: Schools, General Public

Picnic Area: Yes! Outdoor picnic tables, but no cooking allowed

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

National Park Service
Gateway NRA-Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Floyd Bennett Field, Bldg. 69
Brooklyn, NY 11234
Fax: 718-318-4338
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Website

Queens County

Program Description: The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is a 9,155-acre bird sanctuary in the greater New York metropolitan area. Areas accessible to the public include two fresh water ponds, gardens, and approximately five miles of trails. Teachers accompanying visiting school groups are required to attend a 2 ½ hour workshop which is given during the fall and spring.

Hours: Guided programs, by appointment. Grounds open sunrise to sunset; permit required. Visitor center open year-round, 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM

Fees: None

Buildings: Interpretive center, restrooms

Wheelchair access: Yes, building and trails

Visitor Focus: Schools, General Public

Picnic Area: Yes