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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 11362
fax: 718-229-0376
Alley Pond Environmental Center Website

Queens County

Program Description: Located in northeast Queens in the wetland section of Alley Pond Park, Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) is open to all who want to learn about the wonders of nature and ways to sustain our planet. Visit our ambassador animals (turtles, rabbits, doves, snakes, etc.) and walk on the trails behind the Center. Education programs are offered for all ages, from 18 months to seniors. From our Wee Sprouts program for 18-month-olds and their parents to our monthly astronomy programs for all ages, there is a diverse selection of programs to choose from. In addition, daily school classes visit the Center for fun and educational programs.

Hours: Call for information on guided programs. Grounds open sunrise to sunset. Building is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM. Weekend hours vary.

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

Buildings: Main building, outdoor log cabin classroom, Douglaston Estate Windmill

Wheelchair access: Building is accessible

Visitor Focus: Schools, General Public, Scout groups

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. 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 for patrons to meet inside the center, including rabbits, reptiles, arthropods and more. 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, using a compass, identifying trees, frogs, snakes, insects, and birds, and learning skills needed to survive in the woods.

Hours: Center: Tuesday through Sunday, 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
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Website

Kings County

Program Description: Founded in 1910, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) is an urban botanic garden that connects people to the world of plants, fostering delight and curiosity while inspiring an appreciation and sense of stewardship of the environment. Situated on 52 acres in the heart of Brooklyn, the Garden is home to over 12,000 kinds of plants and hosts more than 750,000 visitors annually. In the Garden, in its community, and well beyond, BBG inspires people of all ages through the conservation, display, and enjoyment of plants.

Environmental education for children is at the forefront of BBG's mission. Garden-wide Discovery programs for children and families include drop-in workshops, nature walks, and other activities year-round. BBG's historic Children's Garden provides hands-on gardening classes for children aged 2 to 18. Also offered are guided and self-guided tours to schoolchildren; in-school programming for local Title I students; and professional development for teachers. BBG's Garden Apprentice Program and partnership with a local high school, BASE, are geared for older youth. The Garden has also published several nature and gardening guidebooks for children.

Hours: March - October: Tuesday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM; Weekends: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

November - February: Tuesday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM; Weekends: 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Fees: Adults are $10; children under 12 are free; seniors and students with valid IDs are $5; school groups are always free. All day Tuesdays and from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM (noon) on Saturdays are always free. Winter weekdays (November through February) are free.

Buildings: Steinhardt Conservatory displays plants year-round in the Tropical Pavilion, the Helen Mattin Warm-Temperate Pavilion, the Desert Pavilion, the Aquatic House, and the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum. Steinhardt Conservatory also includes an indoor art exhibition space and the Terrace Café. The LEED Gold-certified Visitor's Center offers an educational and innovative gateway to the Garden with interpretive displays guiding visitors' further understanding of plant life, environmental concerns, and the local ecosystem.

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 Café. The Garden has limited seating for registered school groups in an uncovered outdoor lunch area.

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: The Clay Pit Ponds Interpretive Center offers interactive exhibits and environmental education programs. Come learn about the Preserve's natural environment and rich history of the Lenape, the Free Blacks of Sandy Ground, the clay-miners, and organic farmer Herbert Gericke. Historical artifacts as well as wildlife specimens native to Staten Island's south shore are on display. Visitors can get up close and personal with live animals, enjoy the touch discovery station, look through a children's stereoscope or play in the kid's activity area. Be sure to venture outside and explore the miles of trails that wander among meadows, forests, wetlands, streams and to Sharrotts Pond. The Interpretive Center offers environmental education programs year round for schools at all grade levels as well as interpretive programs, hikes, and themed walks for youth organizations and the general public.

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Fees: None, except for a bus permit parking fee of $35 for groups

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 the heart of the Staten Island Greenbelt, offers environmental education programming, outdoor programs for families, citizen science programs, nature-related workshops, 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: Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM // November-March: Wednesday through Sunday, 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 was designed in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright and sits in harmony with the surrounding forest.

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 interactive exhibits which provide visitors with a natural history and virtual tour of the Greenbelt. A listening wand audio tour is also available. 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, Grades 5-12 hands-on Nature Labs, guided hikes, school programs for Pre-K to Grade 12, internships, Summer Day Camp, and special events.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM, year-round, and for special programs and events on weekends

Fees: Class trips based on a per child fee; $100 per week camp session. Visit the HRPEEC website for more information.

Buildings: HRPEEC: Roosevelt Lab Classroom; Visitor Studio - 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