SCA ConSERVE NYC Volunteers Increase Accessibility to the Waterfront
SCA kicked off the second year of ConSERVE NYC by bringing 92 volunteers to Jamaica Bay to continue work on a new wheelchair-accessible trail from the Visitor Center to the waterfront.
Guided by members of SCA’s Fall Community Intern Team, volunteers came together at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens to clear over 30 cubic yards of brush and invasives and lay down 20 cubic yards of sand to level the trail base. Working with NPS surveyors, participants then raked and leveled the trail to prepare for the final surfacing which will provide a smooth, even path to the waterfront for all park visitors.
The trail has been a product of SCA volunteer efforts from its inception, when ConSERVE NYC volunteers first broke ground for the project last March. Rescheduling around winter storms, volunteers came out in crisp temperatures with snow still on the ground to start clearing the way for an accessible trail. Over the summer, members of SCA’s Youth Conservation Corps (or YCC Crew) worked in partnership with the National Park Service to turn the trail into a reality.
Three alums of this summer’s YCC Crew — Ryan Eng, Imran Khan, and Sam Willner — were among the volunteers who came out on October 18th to put the finishing touches on the trail. “Jamaica Bay was my favorite site to work,” said Imran, now a freshman at Brooklyn College. “This place was sacred to me and the rest of my friends and it was an experience I will never forget.” Sam, now a junior at Bard High School, agreed: “A chance to get back out on our trail? I wouldn’t miss it!”
Other participants in the day included student groups from St. John’s University Alpha Phi Omega, Columbia University, Bryant High School Coalition of Students for Environment & Climate Action, Bryant High School Key Club, and Global Kids. These volunteers were joined by young alumni of SCA programs in New York, Kansas, and Massachusetts, who plan to stay active with SCA in New York City. “I had a great time out here today,” said Chase Killebrew, who just completed his term with SCA’s Massachusetts Corps and moved to Brooklyn to continue his work in the environmental field. “I can’t wait to meet more alums in the area!”
After lunch, Ranger John Tebbetts led volunteers on a tour of the West Pond Trail to take in the fall colors and spot migratory birds passing through the refuge on their way south. At the West Pond Breach, where Hurricane Sandy swept away a section of the pond’s perimeter and connected it with the ocean, participants stopped to snap photos and watch sun rays slant down through the autumn clouds. “The Bay itself just inspires so much curiosity and discovery,” said student volunteer Imran Khan. “You have no idea what you’ll find here.”
See more photos from the October event at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.