It may not be the Grand Canyon, but the Ravine at Udalls Cove is a local marvel all unto itself.
Especially when you consider that not long ago this now plush preserve was a 'fill' for dumping concrete.
And while as one walks the path down to Gablers Creek there’s still ample evidence of discarded concrete from the construction of the Long Island Expressway lingering, the restoration of this preserve is nothing short of miraculous.
"The local community definitely owes a big 'thank you' to the founders of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee who were big advocates of restoring what is now one of New York's most beautiful swaths of nature," said Janice Melnick, Northeast Queens administrator for the New York City Parks Department.
Still, according to one local environmentalist, while the restoration of Udalls Cove was a huge victory for the UCPC, it's also a prime example of what is at times so frustrating about conservation.
"We’re often preserving sites after they've been destroyed, which can be maddening," said Bruce Stuart, first vice president of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee.
Painting the portrait of a bucolic country setting that he played in as a child, which was later destroyed by developers only to be eventually restored, Stuart walked through a brief history of Udalls Cove.
"When I was a kid there was a brook that ran almost all the time, wildlife, toads, snapping turtles. But all that was leveled in the 1960s to make way for a sewer. Then that work site became a dump and for a long time the entire area became a big wasteland," Stuart said.
Then according to Stuart, a woman by the name convinced the local community to push for the restoration of a once beloved pocket of forest.
Today, the 'Ravine' is one of 300 protected sites listed by the New York-New Jersey Estuary Program—an EPA sponsored partnership of local and state agencies, non-profits and citizens interested in preserving what little green spaces are left in the Metro area and surrounding communities.
An essential component to what is left in the Udalls Cove ecosystem, this deep wooded gully between Little Neck and Douglaston is the vital lifeblood to a vast amount of wildlife, which calls the Udalls Cove habitat home.
For local conservationists, equally as rewarding perhaps is the satisfaction that they have done there part to make the community a better place for future generations.
"Udalls Cove, the Ravine, Virginia's Point and Aurora's Pond really are great for the children because it provides them with a little wilderness close to home where they can run off to and pretend like they're in the woods and explore nature," said Walter Mugdan, president of the UPCP and author of the .
"And that's a good thing," he said.