The field of pine trees in the Richmond Hill section of the park – visible from the entrance at Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South – was originally planted over a century ago, but destructive storms uprooted and destroyed many of the trees.
Now, thanks to an allocation of $40,000 from Councilman Eric Ulrich and various private and public partners, the Parks Department is aggressively repopulating the grove.
According to Debby Kuha, the administrator of Forest Park, they have planted 177 trees since work began about a month ago.
Two weeks ago, volunteers from the Glendale-based Mr. T Carting helped clear rocks and brush, and on Arbor Day last week students from PS 223 helped plant more trees while learning about the forest in their backyard.
“Forest Park, for the kids who go to school nearby and live in conjoining neighborhoods, is a wonderful resource,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
The park is over 500 acres and one of two remaining forests in New York City, the other being Bronx River Forest. It’s also home to a huge woodpecker population. For the students, the program is about a lot more than just planting a tree.
“Not only will the kids learn about trees and caring for the environment,” Lewandowski said of the program, “but they’ll also learn about enjoying nature and taking in what’s here.”
Kathleen Holloway, family associate at PS 223, said they have worked successfully with the urban park rangers in the past, and it’s a great opportunity for the kids to get out of the classroom setting and into nature.
“Unfortunately I found, when I went with the kids to the park, so many of them never even went to a park and certainly not on a regular basis,” Holloway said.