For 50 years, Gateway National Recreation Area has provided New Yorkers with the national park experience, and on Saturday morning, New Yorkers honored its golden anniversary by participating in a cleanup.
Organized by the National Park Service (NPS), the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC), Assemblywoman Jaime Williams and Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse, volunteers gathered at Plumb Beach for a 70s-inspired beach cleanup to commemorate the occasion.
Gateway National Recreation Area was created on October 27, 1972, through an act of Congress and consists of a 60-mile coastline with 27,000 acres, spanning Sandy Hook, New Jersey and the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. As a national park, it provides green spaces, wildlife sightings and other cultural/outdoor activities. With 10 million visitors a year, it is the fourth-most visited national park.
“The idea behind Gateway was to bring the National Park to the people at that time,” said Daphne Yun, Public Affairs Specialist of the NPS. “When people think of national parks, they think of the parks out west – Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon. With Gateway, the park is in everyone’s backyard. You don’t have to travel across the whole country; you just use public transportation to visit.”
With JBRPC’s help, over 500 pounds of trash were collected, and JBRPC’s new Executive Director Terri Carta stated, “JBRPC is proud to support NPS’s mission to celebrate and conserve the natural and cultural resources around Jamaica Bay, inspiring future generations of stewards.”
This includes Brooklyn Technical High School volunteers, such as Melanie Kaczor.
“I came to the beach to clean up because I know it’s a huge problem that’s impacting our community,” Kaczor told the Canarsie Courier. “Trash is not only detrimental to animals, but humans as well. It’s important for us to begin caring because if we don’t, then there’s not gonna enough time for us left.”