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Nature * Education * Community * Directions and Hours

The Salt Marsh Nature Center serves several vital roles in our neighborhood. It is one of ten Urban Park Ranger Nature Centers. Each serves as an in-park community center for public education, recreational activities and environmental studies. The centers serve as starting points for walking tours and workshop sites for educational programs for the whole family. Other reasons to check out the SMNC: exhibits highlighting the diversity of our landscape, an abundance of informational written material like trail maps, nature center brochures, and The RedTailer, a newsletter that lists our walks, tours, and special events. Come visit!

Close Encounters with Nature: The salt marsh is a birdwatcher's paradise. Ducks, geese, cormorants, sandpipers, herons, egrets, red-winged blackbirds, and marsh hawks are just a few of the birds that can be seen here.

But Brooklyn's salt marsh isn't just important for birdwatchers. For example, did you know that several important species of sport fish, as well as shrimp and crabs, use the marsh as a nursery before venturing into open waters as adults? That means that the fishing industry is partly dependent upon a healthy salt marsh.

The role of our salt marsh is even more crucial because more than 75 percent of the original salt marsh in Jamaica Bay has been destroyed, much of it between 1950 and the mid-1970s. Most of that destruction was due to filling of marshes to create more land area for homes and industry. Marine Park's salt marsh, formerly a wasteland filled with trash and abandoned cars, has been restored to its natural condition -- proof that a rare and fragile ecosystem can safely exist even when it borders a heavily urban area like Brooklyn.

Educational Programs: The Natural Classroom, launched in 2001 by New York City's Parks Department, transforms Marine Park and the Salt Marsh into outdoor classrooms. Urban Park Rangers use the plants and animals of the salt marsh as object lessons in a variety of subjects including ecology, botany and ornithology. Children also learn about the city's cultural history through lessons highlighting the development and expansion of parks. When the outdoor lessons end, Urban Park Rangers offer supplemental educational materials that allow teachers to bring the day's experience back to their classrooms. The Natural Classroom's activities and lessons learned in the field will prepare the students to meet federal, state and city learning standards.

Nine distinct programs are available for students in grades K-8, and programs can be customized to fit specific needs of other age groups. If you are a teacher who is interested in bringing a class group to the SMNC, call 866-NYC-HAWK for more information.

Culture and Community: In addition to introducing visitors and residents to a rare ecosystem, and providing a quiet oasis in urban Brooklyn, the Salt Marsh Nature Center also hosts cultural and community-oriented events. Every month, the Saturday Nights Live! program brings live entertainment to the SMNC -- from musical groups to storytellers to open-mike poetry readings. Weekends usually feature children's programs, including magic shows, arts and crafts, and storytime. Some of our most popular events are the weekly yoga classes and monthly drawing classes. Important community functions like civic group meetings and blood drives are also held at the Center. Visit the SMA Home Page for a list of upcoming events, or call 718-421-2021 to inquire.

Travel Directions by Car: Take the Belt Parkway to Exit 11N (Flatbush Avenue/Kings Plaza), and drive north on Flatbush Avenue to Avenue U. Turn left on Avenue U and continue west for ten blocks. Pass 33rd Street and look for the Marine Park parking lot on the right (parking is always free). This lot is directly across the street from the Nature Center. Please do not park directly in front of the Nature Center; these spots are reserved for Parks Department vehicles.

Travel Directions by Bus: (visit the MTA's Schedule Page for bus schedules) Take the B46, B2, or B41 to Kings Plaza, and transfer to the westbound B3 bus to East 33rd Street and Avenue U. Or, take the B44 (Nostrand Ave. bus) south to Avenue U, and transfer to the eastbound B3 bus to East 33rd Street and Avenue U.

Travel Directions by Subway: Take the 2 or 5 train to Flatbush Avenue (last stop), then either take the B41 (Flatbush Ave. bus) to Kings Plaza or the B44 (Nostrand Ave. bus) to Avenue U. Transfer to the B3 (Avenue U bus) to East 33rd Street and Avenue U.

Hours of Operation: The Nature Center building is open from 11am to 5pm every day except Wednesdays. The grounds, including the nature trail, are open from dawn to dusk.

Visit the SMA Home Page for a listing of upcoming events at the SMNC, or call 718-421-2021 for more information.

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