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City buy adds half acre to Udall’s Cove preserve

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The city has acquired a piece of private property under half an acre in Udall's Cove, adding to the wetlands preserve that sits on the border between Douglaston and Little Neck, a nonprofit conservation agency announced Friday.

The Trust for Public Land, based in San Francisco, Calif., negotiated the purchase for the city, which used funds appropriated by the City Council to complete the deal.

Clark Wallace, a Trust for Public Land field representative, said "this property is a critical piece among other protected lands in Udall's Ravine and the adjoining Udall's Cove."

Susan Clark of the Trust for Public Land said the newly acquired property is near Depew Avenue in Douglaston. Udall's Cove is an area of marshland surrounding part of Little Neck Bay which acts as an important breeding ground for migratory birds.

Parks Department Commissioner Henry Stern said the property would be used to teach environmental education classes.

"It is only natural that this property be designated parkland as its former owner, Mary Stuart, wanted it," Stern said in a statement.

City Councilman Mike Abel (R-Bayside) helped allocate the funds.

"It is a great pleasure to see this latest portion of land protected and reserved for public use," Abel said in a statement. "Although more needs to be done, every parcel of land saved represents another giant step forward for preservationists everywhere."

The announcement of the land acquisition came within days after the death of 91-year-old Aurora Gareiss, the Douglaston environmentalist who helped spearhead the battle to preserve the cove back in the late 1960s.

The Trust for Public Land has also helped the city obtain other lands in Udall's Cove, including 1.25 acres in November 1998 and half an acre in the late 1980s, which is managed by the Douglaston Manor Environmental Association.

This latest addition to Udall's Cove will also complement Alley Pond Park, which sits just south of the wetland's preserve.

Irene Schied, executive director of the Alley Pond Environmental Center, said "preserved open space is vital to the quality of life for all - wildlife and humans alike. This addition represents the continued efforts of the residents of northeast Queens to preserve natural areas."

In December the Parks Department held a public hearing at the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston about the city's acquisition of another 2.8 acres in Udall's Cove.

A spokeswoman said the city's deal for the 2.8 acres was being processed and should be finalized by early spring.

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