Turtles find sanctuary at Narrows Botanical Gardens

Nestled right in the middle of Bay Ridge’s Narrows BotanicalGardens is a thriving native plant sanctuary, within whichlandscape designer Jimmy Johnson has created a turtle sanctuary, anextraordinary area for 13 special turtles indigenous to New Yorkthat Johnson believes to be the only one of its kind in New YorkCity.

This unique sanctuary is getting help from outside theneighborhood. Recently, experts from the Bronx Zoo visited to giveJohnson some helpful tips on how to keep the turtles properlyenclosed. According to Johnson, it is illegal to keep these turtlesunless you have proper licensing for them.

Johnson also received a grant from the organization In Our BackYard (IOBY) which is dedicated to helping community-based projectsthat are environmentally friendly. This grant allows Johnson topurchase materials to surround the turtle sanctuary so the turtlescan’t escape. When spring arrives, the turtles will be free to roamaround the garden.

Co-founder Erin Barnes of IOBY says that IOBY is a platform,which brings together volunteers and funding to those that areinterested in contributing to the growth of the community.

With features like the turtle enclosure and the native plantsanctuary, the garden has become a learning sanctuary, noted JoanRegan, a founder of the Narrows Botanical Gardens, who pointed outthat volunteers also give tours of the garden where chickens,frogs, honeybees and Koi fish live. In one section of the nativeplant sanctuary, tree stumps have been turned into seats, whereJohnson educates children on the importance of native plant andanimal life.

Free educational nature programs for children in the garden’s storycircle are held between April and October. Log onto the garden’swebsite at www.narrowsbg.org for more information.

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