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With Earth Day just around the corner, I wanted to write about one of my favorite parks located about 30 miles east of Manhattan. Norman J. Levy Park located in Merrick, Long Island is a fantastic example of how certain projects are helping the environment on a larger scale. The park opened to the public in 2000 and saved the town a whole lot of money. The Merrick landfill needed to be capped, which would have cost $57 million, but instead they converted it into a nature park and preserve for $15 million.
The 52-acre park has three miles of trails and 18 fitness stations for park visitors to use in order to maintain an active lifestyle. The terrain is quite hilly in some spots—with the highest point being 115 feet. From the highest point in the park you can see the Manhattan skyline as well as Jones Beach. Besides the amazing views and the great exercise, the park itself boasts some of the coolest environmentally friendly traits.
At the highest point, there is a windmill that is responsible for powering the circulation of the two man-made ponds in the preserve. The two ponds provide a freshwater habitat for a variety of different species that live their. A variety of small mammals, birds and reptiles all call the park home and live in this ecosystem together.
There is a herd of Nigerian dwarf goats that lives at the park as well. These goats serve as workers since they maintain the overgrowth of the grass, weeds and bushes. Along with the goats, there’s another working class at the preserve-the Guinea fowl. These large birds serve as an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides since they help control the tick population. Besides being ecological solutions to natural problems that arise in these habitats, the animals are often roaming around the 52-acres and encountering you on the trails. The goats are super friendly and love to be pet!
Since the park is surrounded by water, a lot of care has gone into making sure that all of the species will be able to have healthy and safe lives there. Special consideration has gone into the preservation of the protected Diamondback Terrapin. Safe nesting environments were strategically made at the preserve in order to keep them from going back on the endangered species list!
I strongly suggest you take a trip out and visit the park (which is free to enter and park at, by the way) and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and educational tidbits. If you’re looking to exercise, take a leisurely stroll or learn something new-this is the place for you! At the park you can also go fishing (off of their pier that has been harvested in a environmentally friendly manner in Peru), go kayaking in the brook or get a tour from one of the park rangers and get an in-depth background of the construction of the park and it’s ecosystem. Either way, go and enjoy!