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Statement of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee Before the
New York City Planning Department In Support of the
City Parks Department�s Proposal for Acquisition and Street Demapping in
The Udalls Cove Ravine
October 31, 2007

The Udalls Cove Preservation Committee (UCPC) was founded in 1969 to promote the preservation, conservation and restoration of the last remnants of undeveloped marshland and associated wooded uplands in the Udalls Cove watershed. The Udalls Cove Park Preserve, a New York City park and nature preserve, was established in the early 1970s at a result of the group�s efforts, and with strong support from City and State elected and appointed officials and the residents in the surrounding communities. UCPC enthusiastically supports the proposal of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation under consideration today by the City Planning Department.

Udalls Cove is the eastern arm of Little Neck Bay, part of Long Island Sound. The Cove straddles the Queens/Nassau border. Udalls Cove Park preserves over a hundred acres of undeveloped land extending from Northern Boulevard on the south, along the steep wooded slopes of the Udalls Cove Ravine through which runs Gabler�s Creek, to the low-lying freshwater wetlands surrounding Aurora Pond (just north of the Long Island Railroad), and north to the vibrant salt marsh tidal wetlands and the Cove itself.

Over the past three decades the City has acquired nearly all the land intended for inclusion in the Park, with the exception of several acres in the middle of the Ravine. The acquisition and demapping proposal under consideration today is an important additional step on the way to completing the park, and thereby fulfilling a commitment made by each City administration since that of Mayor John Lindsay.

The Park � including the Ravine � serves as critical wildlife habitat, and as a filter that is crucial to the maintenance and enhancement of water quality in Udalls Cove and Little Neck Bay. The Udalls Cove Ravine is designated as Site L13, a �Highest Priority Site� on the New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program Habitat Workgroup List of Priority Acquisition and Restoration Sites www.harborestuary.org/restmaps/HabitatSiteList.pdf .

Aurora Pond, immediately north of the Ravine, is fed by and thus depends entirely upon Gabler�s Creek which runs through the Ravine. The Pond is listed as a priority restoration site by

the Long Island Sound Study and National Estuary Program, a joint program of the States of New York and Connecticut and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.longislandsoundstudy.net/pubs/reports/LISSHabMap02.pdf  A highly successful City-funded restoration project for Aurora Pond was completed in 2006 at a cost of over $1 million.

The Ravine is of such ecological significance that the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in 1974 declared it to be an �extended adjacent area� under the New York State Tidal Wetlands Law � one of very few such sites throughout the entire State. In a formal administrative proceeding then Commissioner James Biggane determined as follows:

�Udalls Cove is one of the last wetland sanctuaries for plant, fish and wildlife remaining within the limits of New York City. Therefore, it is essential that the Cove be protected from any degradation and preserved in its natural state for the people of the State of New York. ... Udalls Cove Ravine is a unique wooded undeveloped area tributary to Udalls Cove. The Ravine area contributes fresh surface and groundwater flows which are eseential to the estuarine quality of the Cove. ... [The] Ravine ... must be preserved ....�

The City and State have spent millions of dollars acquiring land in the Ravine, and restoring the Aurora Pond wetlands immediately below. At this writing , more than half the land in the Ravine is owned by the City. The City Parks Department proposal under consideration today represents the necessary next step on the road to final completion of the preservation of the Ravine. We urge the Planning Department to approve this proposal.

Once this proposed acquisition is accomplished, there will be only three or four acres remaining to be acquired in the Ravine. The Udalls Cove Preservation Committee looks forward to standing before you again in the not-too-distant future to ask your support for that final step in this long journey.

Respectfully submitted,


Walter Mugdan
President


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