Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Some views of the woods and pond

Here are some pictures of the woods and pond in summer, fall and winter just to show you what I've been writing about. Come and visit anytime.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Forest Park and the homeless

Today, I completed what has now become an annual inspection of the woods around the area of Strack Pond. I am pleased to announce that the combination of persistent response to  problem areas and, now that the understory has shed its leaves and the poison ivy has subsided, the cleaning of remote sections has produced a clean segment of the park here on the corner of Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive. Just two years ago, when I first began this work this same slice of the park was described as heavily trashed. Without the assistance of Forest Park's administrative and management personnel and its Urban Ranger office, this work could not have been accomplished. I thank all of them for their support of my efforts, their taking the time to patiently listen to my gripes, and their timely and continued response to my calls for assistance.

As a daily visitor to the park, I collect what must be years of the repeated use of the park by it's night time visitors. Judging only by the empircal evidence I collect, I have reached some startling truths that reflect a lot on us as citizens, as parents, as a city and ultimately as a society. By day, Forest Park is a serene place of beauty, at night, it does business as a place to get drunk and smoke, a place to have sex, and a place to stay over if you are homeless. All of that activity leaves litter. I've written a lot about the smoking and drinking before. Parents, wake up!! By the way, a special thank you to President Obama for banning those flavored blunts. That is the preferred way of smoking pot in Woodhaven. The way I look at it, one less thing I have to pick up of these kids.

I'm pretty sure that the park is frequently used by homeless men. What does that say about us, that staying overnight in a city park is a more attractive alternative to a city shelter. It seems evident that these encampments I have discovered in the past year also involve a lot of alcohol consumption. That's depressing. I don't like throwing away someone's clothes or sleeping bags. I always try to signal that I'm in a little hideaway by scrubbing the area of cans and debris before I bag clothes or blankets. Since I've started, I've seen evidence of  about seven or eight homeless locations on the Woodhaven side of the park. That's too many.

Forest Park was once part of a beautiful 1895 plan to have a continuous green belt ranging from Prospect Park in Brooklyn and culminating with Forest Park. It is a beautiful heritage of our city, and a treasure to the neighborhoods surrounding it. As a senior and a member of the Flower Child generation that would fix the world, I can't let it be passed on to the next generation sullied by our neglect, by our failure as parents and teachers and  citizens. I won't let that happen between Woodhaven Boulevard and the Carriage Walk, anyway. Pick it up, folks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Confession: I am removing evidence from a crime scene

Rene, the Park Manager told me that he would have two more of the large trash bags I left off the trail in the woods disposed of. It takes me 3 or 4 visits to the park to fill one of those bags. There are other places in the park I leave garbage also, so this just amounts to the trash collected from the portion of the woods near the tennis courts on Forest Park South. In those bags are many plastic bags, the containers for coffee and food eaten in the woods, some beverage containers, and a lot of cigar wrappers. That portion of the  trash takes up about 15 % of the volume in a bag. The 85% remaining consists of  beer and other alcohol containers. I would guess conservatively, there are on average, a hundred and twenty beer containers in each bag. Now, many of them are the quart size containers, so there is an enormous amount of beer consumed in this part of the  park.Why do I say "I'm removing evidence from a crime scene"? I'm willing to bet that all of the vandalism that occurs in the park is a direct result of illegal drinking in the woods. The police call it the "broken window theory". One relatively small crime which leads to others. Since I've been involved with the park these past three years, I have seen the destruction of every sign park officials erected, the bat houses which were placed behind the pond, and the three or four "ice ladders" which are put there for safety each winter. A large laminated sign detailing the kind of wildlife at the pond was also torn loose from its mooring and thrown in the water. There have been at least three fires that I know of. And of course,broken glass is everywhere. Add to that, the other trash that accompanies the broken bottles and cans and you can readily see why I never have a day where there isn't some garbage to be disposed of. Never! There are areas in the woods that were empty a year ago and now take two or three visits to empty of bottles of malt liquor, beer, gin and vodka. What does this say of our generation that we tolerate our youngsters getting drunk unchecked every weekend in a city park? I realize the police and urban rangers can't patrol the woods nightly, but can nothing else be done? Most of the alcohol comes from two all night delicatessens, one on Jamaica Avenue and one on Woodhaven Boulevard. Those establishments sell the same size cans, bottles and brands I find and remove. Can't the police visit these places and warn the owners of the consequences of selling alcohol to minors?  And, what is going on with the parents of these budding alcoholics? These are middle class neighborhoods. You parents don't care if your children consume alcohol in the park? There is a $1,000 fine for littering in the park. Carrying and consuming alcoholic beverages in the woods can be a misdemeanor. Something like that on your kid's record can mean not getting into college, the Armed Services or a job. Nowadays, everything you do stays on your record. I will get the local police involved. As a fellow parent, I ask  the parents of these individuals to talk to your kids. I'm turning myself in. I am guilty of removing hundreds of bags of evidence.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Immigration and Forest Park

Our park touches five different neighborhoods in Queens. If you took a tour of all the homes on the blocks adjacent to or within a walk of the park, you would find urban mansions, condos, new homes, large and small apartment complexes and simple one family homes. You will find people who have only arrived in our country and those who have been here for many generations. The streets are neat and the homes kept clean. The users of Forest Park are, for the most part middle class and up. The difference is that many of the new immigrants to this part of Queens come from the third world. They arrive here from cultures where conditions are such that existence means exploiting the place you live for sustenance. These places don't have public parks, they don't have reliable plumbing, they lack sanitation and there is no sense that land must be preserved for further generations. We, the people of the United States, more specifically the teachers, park officials, social workers, police and citizenry of Queens have obviously not done enough to educate and inform our growing population of third world immigrants. I grew up in Queens and learned in first grade that we never throw so much as a gum wrapper on the street or certainly not in a public park. For all the talk about raising standards and lowering class sizes, do we still teach kids not to litter? Particularly, for these new immigrants who have come to us from countries that have been long exploited by the first world, robbed of their natural resources, forced into lives of abject poverty, have we done enough to inculcate our values ? I think it's time for America to realize that the past is over. We are feeling the effect of the long exploitation of the third world. The answer isn't to build bigger fences.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The red trail

This morning I walked around my adopted woods surrounding Strack Pond with the administer of Forest Park responsible for the wooded areas in the park. She gave me permission to mark out a trail through the woods. I hope to elicit the help of all who read this blog in mapping out and maintaining this beautiful walk through the woods surrounding Strack Pond.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thoughts by the pond

I remember sitting in my favorite spot beneath a wide oak tree just off the trail that surrounds the pond. The last snow was still on the ground but the sun and air told of spring coming. You can see the buildings that surround the park and the tops of trucks that pass on Wooodhaven Boulevard at that time before the forest has awakened. It's a reminder of how fragile the park is, how vulnerable to the outside world.

I was caught in the rain tonight. It started as I was walking to the pond , so I stopped by a bank protected by the double canopy of trees that grow there. It was dry there . I watched the rain disturb the mottled green surface of the water. I took in this beautiful scene of the pond and its surrounding woods too thick now to see those buildings and trucks of March but, they are still there. The park is lush and beautiful now, but no less fragile or vulnerable. Help me put an end to littering in our green spaces.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Other Forest Park

Although I wish for this blog to be a public forum, so far I have received little comment (publicly) from the readers. Word has reached me however, that at least one of my readers worries that the blog because many of the posts focus on the business of picking up and analyzing trash (I have become some kind of forensic trashologist), because of this, paints a negative image of Forest Park which might lead to the wrong impression of its value or might even deter visitors from coming to the park. I would like to dispel that image from the minds of readers who don't know the park first hand. Let me say that in the hundreds of hours I spend in the park, I have witnessed unlawfull activity including littering only on about three occassions. None of these incidents were threatening or caused me any anxiety. The park is a safe place to be during daylight hours. If you aren't aware of the geography of the park, Forest Park is a big park! By far, the largest portion is all forest. Because of it's size, it forms a border with four separate neighborhoods, Glendale on one end, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill on its other side .Two sets of railroad tracks dissect it. Myrtle Avenue runs through it and Woodhaven Boulevard cuts off another section . The downside of that is there are just too many ways of entering the park apart from the designated areas planned by its designers.My work of picking up trash is largely confined to the edges of the park the unplanned entrances. That's where I find homeless encampments, places to hide illegal activities and most litter. I pick up that litter and look for it every day. Perhaps the reporting of my work has skewed my readers overall view of the park. I should therefore, paint a fairer picture of the vast majority of the park and take you there on a virtual journey.

Today, I parked on a street off of Woodhaven Boulevard and Union Turnpike and walked to its end where there is a big industrial looking building on a dead end street. It houses a Riding Academy with one of those indoor rings riding schools provide, and a small stable where one can either rent horses or stable their own. From there, riders cross Union Turnpike and enter the park's bridal path where they ride through 500 plus acres of mostly an oak and hickory forest covering the hills and gulleys of the glacial moraine that formed this part of Queens. I entered the park walking down the wide lane used by the horse riders as they travel to a place where they can access a tunnel under the Jackie Robinson Parkway which unfortunately shaves some 30 original acres from the park. This morning, I had my work gloves with me but no plan in my mind that I would clean up a particular spot. The woods on this other side of Woodhaven Boulevard are much cleaner than what I have described in earlier posts. There are four marked trails in and around the forest, and countless smaller off the trail paths that can end in dead ends or meet the marked trails at other points or exit the park.There is also the bridal path which intersects those trails at several places.This morning, I found a clean looking plastic bag that looked strong so I thought I would fill that one bag and continue my walk from where ever that led me. Littering on this side of the park isn't as pervasive as in the small strip of woods I normally prowl on the Strack Pond side of the park. So starting in the area where I found the bag, I took one of those off the trail paths close to the edge of the park and walked stopping to pick up water bottles, and all the stuff I normally find, but not in any one heavily concentrated area . When I had filled the bag, I looked for a place to dispose of it and found a can at an opening in the woods where Forest Park Drive cuts across its expanse. Thankfully, there is no traffic allowed on the Drive on this part of its length so I saw a few walkers and a biker or two this morning as I crossed the Drive and looked for the painted dots on fences, rocks and trees that mark where the orange trail leads one around the woods. The orange trail is the outermost trail and the longest in the park. It would take you about an hour or perhaps a little more to hike the whole trail. I decided to follow the trail for part of its length back around to where I could get off it at a place near where the horses and I entered .If you're thinking to yourself , this sounds like a really nice thing to do, you would be right. This morning, I walked through a section of the trail where towering pines dominate a flat area of about two hundred yards only to return me to be swallowed again by the hills of the forest. I walked down darkened lanes and climbed hills where the exposed roots of giant oak trees formed natural stairs in the soil. I love to examine the bottoms of the oak trees that are all over the woods. The roots of some of the larger and older ones reach into the soil like the legs of giants covered in green moss.In the spaces between where the roots meet the trunk, natural grottos form in these oak tree where one might expect to find an altar to the goddess or a faerie door leading to the nether world. At some point in the trail, I crossed a bridge over the active tracks of a spur of the Long Island Railroad where occasional freights pass hauled by diesel locomotives. It's serene and calming in spite of the traffic noise of the Jackie Robinson which plays in the background. It's a treasure-is Forest Park. It is a place to be preserved and supported.The staff there does a remarkable job with the limited resources spooned out by the city. We need more money, more staff, more rangers and more volunteers. Come, walk around this park. Explore the trails, pause on a hill to view a freight train rounding a curve. This is why I work--why I sometimes get obsessed with the trash I find. This is what makes it all worth the effort.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sex in the Park

Picking up trash in the park is an interesting way to study human behavior. Heavy concentrations of particular kinds of trash lead one to certain conclusions about how the park is used, at least by those who litter. Now, hopefully there are those users of the park who never litter, so there is little or no evidence of their passage. Among those, I count horse riders, dog walkers, nature lovers and citizens who are conscientious about littering (like me). Horse riders do of course, leave some "trace" behind,but even that seems concentrated in certain areas- almost as if there is some kind of agreement among their steeds that one only uses certain parts of the trail to leave one's manure. Perhaps there is some kind of "elephant burial grounds" mentality among horses. I really don't know. Dog walkers seem very good at cleaning up after their pets. I rarely find those tell tale plastic bags knotted closed at their handles, in the mix of the other litter.By the way,since any littering is against the law in the park, anyone who does so is guilty of criminal behavior. However, it is interesting to note that among litterers, there are three specific groups of other law breakers. They are the drinkers of alcoholic beverages, the drug users and those for whom the park is a convenient place to have sex. I have addressed the former in other posts. Now, I would like to shed some light on the latter. I suppose it's good in a way that the use of condoms for sex is on the rise (at least among Forest Park patrons). The ubiquitous presence of those NYC condom packages are a testimony to the awareness that protected sex is important, even in the woods. I have never come upon anyone actually having sex, however I did see two teens trying to swallow one another's faces one afternoon. I suggested they "get a room". Depending on the time, I also encounter single men looking like they are looking for other single men. So, I surmise, both hetero and homosexual sex
are one of the unadvertised attractions to the woods of Forest Park. I have a friend who now lives in Seattle who tells me that her memories of Forest Park include the first few times she had sex as a young girl, so apparently the park is famous as a venue for early hetero sex.It appears that present day heterosexual users like to leave souvenirs of their encounters. Spent condoms and ripped panties or underwear seem to be a triumphant testament to sexual success. I find very few used condoms in the homosexual areas (thank you very much). Only the wrappers remain as evidence of any union.

To all litterers, I would like to say please, I am not impressed or moved in any way that you had lunch, drank a gallon of malt liquor, smoked dope and then got laid. Don't leave the evidence of your behavior behind. For God's sake, pick up that wrapper!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I am happy to report to you that the clean-up of the woods surrounding Strack Pond is showing results. I am carefully optimistic that this area, which when I started this blog was badly decimated has shown significant improvement. I would like to thank the "groups" I addressed in earlier posts for being more conscientious, and let them know, I will be watching to see that the improvement continues. In addition, the staff of the Park has responded significantly. Not only did they just complete a sweep of an area I had been concentrating on, there are also now trash cans on the side of the park adjacent to the woods and pond which are helping to stem the tide of littering. Yesterday, I crossed to the other side of the park where there are 500 plus acres of woods and walked the "blue trail" to assess the littering in the deeply wooded area. I am happy to report that I found no significant littering on the trail or its surrounding woods. This gives me great hope that the park can be passed to the next generation in a respectable condition. Today, I will examine the "yellow trail" which I hear from the Urban Rangers has some problem areas. We will see. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Leafing of the Forest

The top story of Forest Park has begun to leaf. Actually, it began slowly about a week ago. Now, the woods have been transformed. When you enter them now, they seem to enclose you almost immediately. The light changes too, which alters your vision. The pond which was so prominent before, now has to be searched out. But, the biggest change to me is the sound. It's as if the leaves have created a sound chamber which at once muffles what enters and reflects what is there. Thus, bird whistles seem to echo through the trees. I urge all who read these words to visit the park. I know for instance, there are many dog owners who have never walked through the woods with their pets, even though they may use the dog run near the woods. Please do your pet and yourself the favor of walking down to the pond together by hiking the trails through the woods. If you love birds, by all means do it. There are woodpeckers, finches, even an egret that visits the pond in the morning. And, best of all, unlike Prospect Park which has a beautiful pond too, the trails surrounding ours aren't paved, and our woods aren't fenced. Come, feel the earth beneath you and the cooling forest over your head.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Open Letter to Pot Smokers and Beer Drinkers in the park

First of all, I'm not looking to make enemies, but right now you people and I are at war. For the last year or so, I've been coming to the park almost every day. What I see there is disturbing to me. You see, the Parks Department doesn't have a lot of money so they can't pick up the trash that I see there every morning. They can't pick up beer bottles, plastic envelopes, cigar wrappers, plastic drink bottles or Dunkin' Donuts bags. I do. Since the trash I find is near the places that you smoke pot or drink, I figure you are the ones responsible.People tell me I should go to the cops, see the local community leaders and get them to patrol the park and put an end to it. But you know what? I don't want to. I was your age once. I drank and smoked too. To be honest, I don't think we should have laws about smoking or drinking. What bothers me isn't your smoking and drinking--it's the litter. So, I'm proposing a Peace Plan. I won't try and stop you from using the Park to do your"business". All you need to do is pick up your trash (all of it-even those little "dime bags") and put it in a plastic bag. Leave the bag in front of the tree trunk where I can pick it up. The same with you beer drinkers. Leave the bottles or cans right there on the trail. If you're not too drunk, put them in the bag you used to bring them into the park instead of throwing them or worse breaking them. This park is an important place. Some day, you may want to use it for other reasons. Don't trash it. Please. I know you wouldn't mess up your home or your friend's home. The park belongs to all of us. Every time you remember not to litter, you are doing something good for all of us. Please help. Save the environment; keep the planet green; don't litter!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The greening of the forest

The woods at Forest Park are primarily oak. They stretch high above the forest floor and shade everything below. But this time of year, they haven't begun to even bloom. This gives the understory much needed sunlight . Almost a month ago, I sat on my perch near the pond in the snow. Today the forest has literally sprung to life. Everywhere below the still sleeping oak trees there is green growth. Some of the smaller trees are beginning to flower and tiny sprouts are covering bare places everywhere.The Parks Department has been running fresh water into the pond and the rains of the past few days have been helping it fill up. Soon, it too will green with water plants covering large parts of its surface, while the dry grasses which surround it will once again sprout with wild iris and other flowers. Help preserve this beauty. Come and visit us. Pass this blog address on to friends who share your love of nature. Ask them to become followers.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


A week in the Golden State puts an interesting slant on my work here in Queens. Whether in San Francisco or Carmel, Point Reyes or the Big Sur, Californians value the idea of not littering. In the National Parks and on US 1, there's a $1,000 fine for littering. Even in smallish Buena Vista Park in San Francisco, administered by the city, I found virtually no litter. It however, is patrolled by the police. The streets of San Francisco are 10 times cleaner than New York. I know, New York has a much bigger population. My point is not littering is a part of the culture in California.If Forest Park were in California, its natural beauty would be supported by the people who use it and the borough and city that are responsible for our quality of life. All we need is the will to do the same.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bird Season

Sunday, it was cold and cloudy in the park, but I saw my first cardinal pair and the trees were filled with a bird's song as I left the pond. Meet me in the parking lot any day for a tour of the woods. Bring your binoculars. I'll show you the birds and the trash!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Three bags a day

I worked on an area today that looked like it was being neglected. The bowl shaped woods leading down to the pond are boardered on one side by a fence running along Forest Park Drive as the road is called, down to Woodhaven Boulevard, the large road that splits the park in two. Along that fence, there are three sets of park benches, the kind made of wood and concrete. Predictably, the wooded area behind those benches contain a lot of trash. There are no waste baskets near those benches, or indeed, any waste baskets on the side of the park facing the woods going all the way up to Oak Ridge, the park headquarters perched on a hill at the end of Forest Park Drive. There are several trash baskets around the band shell, by the way, in the parking lot and carousel area, and in the picnic area. There are none on the side facing the pond or the woods. I remove a minimum of three plastic supermarket bags of trash a day from those woods. Often, I'll spend an hour on the weekend in the park. I can stuff trash from the woods into six or 7 bags in an hour. That's every day since I've started. The last Park Manager explained to me that they can't put trash baskets in the areas that accumulate the most litter, because they get vandalized, or are used for household trash. This winter, the laminated sign set on two sturdy legs at the little plaza in front of the pond was ripped off its mooring and thrown in the water. We can't just throw up our hands and do nothing can we? I'm caring for about 7 to 10 acres of woods. There are more than 500 in the park.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Your mother's living room

Suppose you needed a place for you and your friends to hang out and you happened to mention this fact to your mom. Suppose, for a moment, she agreed with you and told you it would be fine for your friends to come over whenever they pleased. Let's say one day you brought up a few friends to sit in the living room and play music, watch TV and do whatever they wanted. And, now let's say one of your friends was eating a bag of potato chips and when he finished he crumpled up the bag and threw it on your mom's rug. I don't think I would find too many people who wouldn't say, "You just throw your trash on my mother's rug? You never learned better than that?"
And of course, you'd be right to be angry at your friend.Perhaps, you would even consider telling him not to come back.

Forest Park is Mother Nature's gift to New York, to us, to you!

What are you going to do with that potato chip bag? You know what's right.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Forest Park in the Snow

I was down at Strack Pond Saturday morning sitting on the oversized root of one of my favorite trees. Normally, when everything is in leaf, this tree affords me a view of the pond and is still somewhat hidden from the trail around the pond. Now, of course I'm in plain sight. The park looks beautiful in the snow, but without any vegetation, you can see the buildings on the other side of Woodhaven Boulevard, and you can see how vulnerable Forest Park is surrounded by the busy life of Queens. This oasis in the midst of the chaos of modern life is in danger. It's so easy to enter the park and so easy to drop garbage there. I find car parts, discarded computers, clothing, bags and containers from McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts, and beer cans and bottles everywhere. For sure, the overworked staff in charge of the park has been very cooperative providing me with garbage bags and work gloves and picking those bags up once they are filled. The Parks Department in general and the administrators of Forest Park in particular are dedicated, grateful for any help they can get, and are trying to wisely spend what little funds they have but it is not enough. For starters, we need to have the Woodhaven Boulevard fence extended to protect the rim of the pond. It's too easy for homeless people and others to enter the woods . And, we need the help of the Police Department to stop the illegal activity that goes on in the park. There are just a few stores that sell beer and malt liquor near the park.I'm not a forensic scientist, but it isn't a stretch to imagine kids getting drunk in the park and then going crazy starting fires, tearing down signs and throwing things in the pond.Are the police doing anything to monitor these places of business to insure they aren't selling to minors? Judging from the number of beer cans and bottles I've collected over the past year, I would have to say no.

Please join me in my fight to save Forest Park. Subscribe to this blog so you know when new posts are published. Acting together, we can do something to stop the destruction of the woods of Forest Park. Let's keep the forest in Forest Park.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Condemned by the gods to be frustrated, I roam the woods daily looking for trash. When I 'm there regularly, I follow a plan of patrolling different areas of the woods on different days. One day for example , I'll check the fallen tree trunk where kids meet to get stoned. That area is usually strewn with Gatorade bottles and other litter including the little plastic envelopes the pot is sold in. Nowadays, kids around here roll their pot with the sweet smelling flavored tobacco of small cigars that are sold in foil wrappers. I know this because if I had a nickle for every one of the cigar wrappers I pick up, I would be able to pay for all the gas I use riding back and forth to the park. Another day, I check a little hiding place near the back of the woods facing the tennis courts. Apparently, this is used as a lover's lane judging by the number of used condoms and ripped clothing I find. Yes, I use gloves! Last month due to the cold, I saw a drop off in the amount of trash I normally find, so I began searching other areas. It's endless. I've uncovered whole new areas that look like they haven't been cleaned in years. So, just like Sisyphus whose punishment it is to roll his boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down before he reaches the top, I wander the hills of the park thinking perhaps I've cleaned everywhere there is to clean and I can finally rest and enjoy the scenery, only to find another area covered in beer cans or other messes. What keeps me going you may ask? I'm afraid to stop. I'm afraid to stop because no one else is doing this. I'm afraid one day some future Parks Commissioner will say, "The place is a dump. Let's sell it to a private developer and make the city a big profit". Don't let that happen. This place was given to us to nurture and protect.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Visits to the Park

About 13 months ago, I began a routine that might more rightly be termed an obsession. Before I get to that, let me describe the place where this obsessive/Sisyphean behavior takes place. Forest Park in Queens, New York is a big piece of land set aside by the city in 1895 (the third largest park in Queens) It is distinct, however in that 60 percent of its area is a dense woodland of oak, hickory and pine.Since my return to Queens, I visited the park mostly to sit there with my dad after my mom died. At the time (1996), the park was involved in a project of constructing a pond at the bottom of a wooded bowl shaped area alongside Park Drive. I should explain here that the land Forest Park is situated on was formed by the Wisconsin Glacier as it stretched across the Great Plains and reached New York forming Jamaica Bay. At this most southernmost edge of the giant river of ice, it split into smaller fingers of ice pushing the earth into depressions geologists call "kettles" (picture the inside of a kettle whose walls slope out). The hills formed by the areas between these fingers are called "knobs". Over thousands of years, the kettles developed bottoms of silt and clay over time which sealed them from absorbing water. Rainfall and snow would often accumulate and form kettle ponds. Forest Park had many of these naturally occurring ponds, but all are now dry. The pond the Park was working on in 1996 sits off Woodhaven Boulevard which unfortunately splits the park into two distinct areas. Couldn't they have built Woodhaven Boulevard underground for a few stinking blocks? Anyway, they chose the area bordering Woodhaven because it formerly was the site of two baseball fields which constantly flooded due to their placement at the bottom of one of these kettles. The story is that some visiting commissioner on an annual inspection, deemed the flooded fields "fit for ducks", and so the wheels were put in motion.
The park has at its northernmost peak, high over the rest of Queens, a restored Dutch-colonial farm house whose two banquet rooms are a great place for a party. The offices of the little team that administers this park are on the top floor of the big house. A winding road leads down from "Oak Ridge"through the park. You miss it's beauty if you use the road merely to enter or exit the Jackie Robinson Parkway. It was designed by the firm of Fredrick Ohmstead who designed both Central Park and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. To appreciate it, you really need to walk it.. It traverses the ridge of a long knob . You see the woods falling away on both sides of you as you travel down its length. On one side the woods morph into the "rough of one of the city's best little golf courses, it's greens spreading out behind the oak forest at its boundary like pastures . Near the end of this road, you pass the Bandstand where local kids constantly work on their skate board skills, the picnic area and the Carousel with its vintage hand carved horses.On the other side of the road, you pass a path diagonally rising from the park's lower reaches. Opposite that path is a ribbon of woods now at the same level of the road. Those are the woods I have chosen to patrol daily. They lead down in descending layers to the kettle pond and it's beautiful rim of water plants. From February through early June, these woods are home to several species of birds. The trees and bushes are alive with their calls .

All this would be perfectly fine except for one thing. As alone and peaceful the woods can make one feel in the early day, they are the unfortunate sight of various types of unlawful behavior later in the day. That behavior leads to other unlawful activity which personally affects me and the other lovers of nature who visit the park, that is, littering and vandalism. I got the bright idea last winter to spend part of my time in the woods picking up the litter I found. This led me on an increasingly wide inspection of the woods. What I found has led me to a disturbing conclusion.
If we only do as we have been doing to date to keep these woods looking like the"Forever Wild" places they are supposed to be, some future generation will say of us, they allowed the woods to fill up with garbage and they did nothing about it.