Wildlife in the Park

June 10th, 2014

Recently, a family of mallard ducks was seen at the day lighted Saw Mill River at Van der Donck Park. Male mallards are easily spotted by their green colored head while females are a speckled brown. Make Way for Ducklings is a well-known book published in 1941 about a family of mallard ducks that decides to nest in middle of Boston Public Garden.

Mallard Ducks

People also spotted a night heron and a beaver. Night herons have brown or grey plumage and most have a black crown. They are called night herons because they feed predominantly at night. Beavers are best known for building dams in rivers and streams. They are primarily nocturnal, most active at night, and semi-aquatic. In North America, going back to the Native Americans and as recently as the 1970s, beavers have been trapped for their pelts which were made into various clothing items.

20140619_181324  beaver



“Tale of the Saw Mill” article features Groundwork!

February 13th, 2013

Check out this great article on the history of the Saw Mill River in Yonkers, spanning from pre-Colombian times to Groundwork’s daylighting of the river at Larkin Plaza and future plans for restoration projects.

The article also features Ann-Marie Mitroff, our Director of River Programs!

Click here to read it!


EPA awards grant for “Eyes on River” in Yonkers!

July 22nd, 2012

The Saw Mill River in Yonkers will soon have new “eyes on the river”–to watch changes, test water quality, and bring people to the river to clean up and restore the river banks from Ann St. to Tuckahoe Road, including the section of the river around War Memorial Field. A 2-year grant of $51,000 awarded to Groundwork Hudson Valley’s Saw Mill River Coalition, will build a group of local stewards for the river and work with the neighborhoods in “visioning” the river through their area. For more information on participating, please contact Ann-Marie Mitroff, River Program Director at (914) 375-2151, or annmarie@groundworkhv.org.


Fish See the Light of Day — In Downtown Yonkers, June 18

June 28th, 2012

Canadian camera crew catches Yonkers youth and Mayor with new “residents”

On Monday, June 18th, Mayor Mike Spano, along with Yonkers’ teens, Beczak Environmental Education Center, and Groundwork Hudson Valley staff discovered fish that are already swimming in the newly daylighted Saw Mill River. Students from Yonkers, Gordon, Saunders, and Hackley high schools and Oberlin College donned waders and learned how to capture fish in a seining net.  Several discoveries were made, including several baby nursery black-nose dace and tessellated darters, which are thriving in the rocks placed along the river for several species of fish to come and grow.

“The fact that fish are alive and well in such an urban area—downtown Yonkers—is magic, and we are excited about sharing this magic with our youth,” related Ann-Marie Mitroff, River Program Director of Groundwork Hudson Valley. This spring, students working with Groundwork Hudson Valley caught many baby glass eels at the mouth of the Saw Mill River. The eels migrate from 600 miles away to grow to adulthood in the Saw Mill.

Mayor Spano watched the seining at the water’s edge, and spoke with the students on hand. “This is such a fantastic idea that has been in the works for many years. We are going to continue daylighting the river, because it’s such a great resource for the city.  It shows the beauty of Yonkers and will help Yonkers become a destination,” said Mayor Spano.

The park, which will be open to the public once final details are finished, will provide a place to teach about the natural environment and Yonkers’ history. To support that goal, the American Eel Outdoor Classroom is being installed by Groundwork Hudson Valley under a grant from the Hudson River Foundation and the US EPA. The classroom area in the park will have benches to accommodate school and summer camp classes visiting Beczak Environmental Education Center, The Science Barge, and Philipse Manor Hall. It will also feature an in-ground mosaic depicting the life cycle of the American Eel. The area will also be used by the Yonkers Riverfront Library for story hours.

The Daylighting project culminates a 10-year effort to uncover portions of the river buried for decades by urban construction, making the way for the new park that will help spur Downtown Yonkers’ revitalization.

Spano and the students were filmed by Canadian documentary company Catbird Productions, which has been following the Daylighting project from start to finish. Their film, Under the City, is documenting rivers that have been buried in cities all around the world.  Filming is set for completion at the end of June and will air on French CBC TV and online soon.

According to Katarina Soukup, Catbird Producer and President, “Today is the end of a story—the big reveal. In cities around the world we often see great ideas for revitalizing abandoned rivers, but the political will to bring these ideas to life is not there. That’s what is so inspiring here in Yonkers. Environmentalists, engineers, and politicians worked together over these many months, and their collaborative effort has born fruit in this beautiful park. What a wonderful thing, seeing these inner city kids learning about nature, and having access to the river. Next summer we’d like to come back and present an outdoor screening of our completed film in the Daylighting Park.

Students seining in the newly opened river with net, looking for fish

Photos courtesy of Donna Davis, Ms. Davis Photography

Article on Daylighting Celebration in the Journal News, December 7, 2011

February 8th, 2012

The Journal News highlights the December 6 ceremony, hosted by Yonkers Mayor Phillip Amicone, celebrating the completion of the first phase of the daylighting project.   Read the article here.

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