Common snapping turtle hatchling on path between central and western basins, September, 2007; Courtesy Steve Nanz

Redstart male, south of central basin, May, 2007; Courtesy Steve Nanz

Azure bluet, on path between central and western basins, September, 2007; Courtesy Steve Nanz

While a lush and dense forest has grown up in the two outer basins of the Ridgewood Reservoir, a freshwater pond that attracts waterfowl occupies the middle basin. This fresh water source is critical to migrating birds on the Atlantic Flyway. Courtesy Steve Nanz

Black and white warbler; Courtesy of NYC H2O

Flower astors and sunflower; Courtesy of NYC H2O

Flower fleabane; There are eight unique ecological zones within the three basins of the Ridgewood Reservoir and 173 different species of plants.The Reservoir’s designation as a Class 1 freshwater wetland insures that all three basins will be permanently protected as a natural area; Courtesy of NYC H2O

Flower penstemon; Courtesy of NYC H2O

Goldfinch eating seeds of astor flower; Courtesy of NYC H2O

Monarch on goldenrod; Courtesy of NYC H2O

Flower with wild blue indigo; Courtesy of NYC H2O

Yellow-billed cuckoo; Courtesy of NYC H2O

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The Reservoir provides crucial ecosystem services to the surrounding neighborhoods. It improves air quality by filtering out particulates and harmful chemicals, mitigates heatsink effects of concrete and asphalt in summer months, absorbs storm water and prevents it from flooding the neighborhoods below, and mitigates combined sewage overflows.

The Reservoir is also a perfect case study of ecological succession. With the introduction of new upstate reservoirs in the 1950s, Ridgewood Reservoir became obsolete and was decommissioned in the 1980s. A lush and dense forest has grown in its two outer basins while the middle basin has a freshwater pond used by waterfowl. The Reservoir is home to more than 160 species of birds, many of whom migrate on the Atlantic Flyway, including some that are threatened or endangered. As restoration work continues, and the public has more access to its open spaces, Ridgewood Reservoir will increasingly be recognized as one of New York City’s ecological and cultural treasures.