City commits funds to allow 19 acres of property to be preserved as protected natural area and open public space
STATEN ISLAND, NY: Borough President James Oddo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have announced a plan to protect the last remaining 19 acres of William H. Pouch Camp that are not covered in the conservation easements granted in 2012 and 2013. Pouch Camp has served for nearly 70 years as a camp facility for the Greater New York Councils (GNYC) of the Boy Scouts of America, and the conservation easements both prevent development of the sites and allow for public access, ensuring that it is a critical part of the Staten Island Greenbelt.
The 19 acre-site is known as the Camp-O-Ree Field, and is privately owned by the Greater New York Councils. The Mayor and Borough President’s action will start the process to protect this site from being developed through a conservation easement, so it can continue to serve thousands of children citywide each year, both in scouting and in community and school programs. The field is extensively used for public events in service to the community.
The City of New York will work with The Trust for Public Land and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on taking the next steps to facilitate the acquisition of the property from the GNYC through a conservation easement. Following an appraisal, funds will be allocated to acquire the easement.
The Camp-O-Ree Field abuts an existing 95-acre conservation easement for the remainder of the camp, regulated by the State DEC and surrounded by over 1,000 acres of protected Greenbelt forest. Within this adjacent woodland is a system of ponds and streams protected by New York State law, and it is a habitat for increasingly rare native plants and birds.
“This action will preserve and protect one of the most environmentally and recreationally valuable properties within the Greenbelt. The conservation easement guarantees the Camp-O-Ree Field will remain undeveloped and pristine in its utilization as a camp serving children and families from all five boroughs. I applaud the Scouts for working with us on protecting the site and not leaving it vulnerable to unwanted residential or other private development. We’ve seen other properties tragically lost this way, and we could not let that happen – not with so much at stake,” said Borough President James Oddo. “These 19 acres are a ‘forever investment’ by the city providing environmental and public health benefits for children over generations to come. I thank Mayor de Blasio for recognizing the value of this land to our City’s children and for giving Staten Island the chance to preserve it as a permanent part of our natural landscape.”
The protection of the Camp-O-Ree site has been a top priority for local environmental and park groups, such as the Greenbelt Conservancy, the Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and others.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only underscored the importance of protecting our public green spaces,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This investment will build a more environmentally resilient Greenbelt and guarantee the entirety of Pouch Field will be preserved for New York City families and children to enjoy for generations to come.”
“Pouch Camp has long been a destination for campers and families and protecting 19 additional acres will ensure more opportunity for more New Yorkers to enjoy outdoor space close-to-home,” said Carter Strickland, VP of the Mid-Atlantic Region and New York State Director for The Trust for Public Land. “We’re proud to work again with the Boy Scouts Greater NY Chapter, Mayor De Blasio, and Borough President Oddo to add more protected open space to the Greenbelt, which will enhance access to outdoor recreation as well as the city’s environmental resiliency.”
Banner Image: Map of William H Pouch Camp. Image Credit – Pouch Scout Camp