This can't be what Mother Nature intended.
Years of illegal dumping and unchecked weed growth at the Fresh Creek Nature Preserve in Canarsie have turned the once-beautiful stretch of waterfront park into a polluted wasteland of garbage and dead trees, residents charged.
"This is not a nature preserve," said Maria Garrett, 52, whose house sits next to an overgrown section of the preserve on E. 108th St. "It's a hospice where nature comes to die. It's a nature graveyard."
Spanning 74 acres of salt marsh along Jamaica Bay, the litter-covered shores of Fresh Creek are strewn with everything from liquor bottles to broken baby carriages.
Mussels grow out of tires left on the beach. Nearby are two burned-out cars submerged in water.
"If it was us not taking care of our property and leaving garbage everywhere, we'd get a ticket," said Garrett. "Who's giving the city a ticket?"
Garrett, her neighbors and local activists will host a two-day cleanup starting today, picking up the garbage and cutting back overgrown weeds that are killing trees.
"They want everything to go green. Well, we're going brown," said Garrett, as she made her way through 10-foot high vegetation. "Look at this stuff. They could film an episode of that show 'Survivor' right here in Brooklyn."
Garrett said the decision for the cleanup came after letters and calls to city officials went unanswered.
Further inland, the remnants of an illegal chop shop are still visible. Glass from broken windshields, floor mats, carburetors and gas caps are embedded in soil blackened by tire fires. In one spot, a tree grows out of an old washing machine.
The city maintains that the park is routinely cleaned.
"Since 2006, we have removed 44 vehicles from the park," Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said via e-mail. "In 2008, we removed 16 containers of debris, nearly 350 tires and, to help prevent future vehicular access, we added more berms, soil and woodchips."