William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge

Victory Blvd., Travis Ave., Arthur Kill Rd.

802.621 acres

A 260 acre sanctuary, this refuge is located within the Greenbelt of Staten Island, which is a vast 2500 acre parkland that includes two adventurous hiking trails called the Blue Trail and the White Trail.

The park is a preserver of many varieties and species of animal and plant wildlife. This would be a perfect outing for anyone who loves the serenity and calm of a wilderness environment.

Tours, parking, and public transportation are available. For more information, call (718) 667-2165.


The William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge, established in 1933, was the first such sanctuary in New York City. 260 acres. Wading birds such as the great blue heron and the common egret are found here. Muskrats along several brooks.

Named after a prominent naturalist and entomologist who once lived on Staten Island, the refuge centers around New Springville Creek, which drains a huge portion of sanctuary lands. Most of it is marsh, but there are areas of dry and wet woodlands, freshwater swamps, and open meadows. (Take Travis Avenue one block to park drive on left. Road to park somewhat obscured by foliage.)

Davis was a naturalist with a specialty in entomology. As a youth he went on field trips with botanists Arthur Hollick and N. L. Britton and geologist Louis Pope Gratacap. In 1892 he published at his own expense Days Afield on Staten Island.

Sponsor: Torrey Botanical Club

Date: May 1, 1981

Leader: Mathilde P. Weingartner

This was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, with only a slight breeze. We took a short loop around the old trail, where Lindera benzoin had finished blooming, and other shrubs were not yet in bloom, such as Viburnum dentatum or V. prunifolium. Trout-lily (Erythronium americanum) still had a few blooms and those on Maianthemum canadense were not yet open.

After lunch we drove a short distance to a small bridge where we watched swallows (barn) picking up mud to build their nests somewhere in the vicinity, but there were no Yellowlegs or ducks along the creek.

We then went to the new Centennial Trail, opened in honor of the Staten Island Institute's 100th Anniversary. This trail winds through a former farm, later flower farm, and now growing back to a layer of shrubs. Many young trees are much in evidence, as well as Bayberries (Myrica pensylvanica), Viburnum dentatum, V. prunifolium, and V. paniculatum.

After a while the path leads through a woodland of Gray birch, cherry birch (Betula populifolia and B. lenta), wild black cherry (Prunus serotina), white, black, pin, and red oaks. There were also white as and shagbark hickory (Carya ovata).

At the foot of the trail was a platform where one could overlook a fresh-water marsh, which, however, gets some of its tidal water flowing past the world's greatest garbage dump, the Fresh Kills Landfill. Leachate in this water is obvious! A little upstream is a nice stand of common cattail (Typha latifolia).

Since this is not a loop trail, we wended our way back the way we had come. Attendance was 4.


Mathilde P. Weingartner

Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)

Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum paniculatum?
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Erythronium americanum (trout-lily)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)