Camping in NYC? US Interior secretary says yes

June 13, 2011 - 2:14 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Many visitors to New York plan their trips to include shopping, a Broadway show and a hotel with fresh, clean sheets.

Sleeping bags under the stars? Not so much.

But Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday that the National Park Service will develop the nation's largest urban campground at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, a former airport used by Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes.

"We want to make New York the leading example of what we can do around the country with urban parks," Salazar said.

Floyd Bennett Field was the city's first municipal airport but is essentially unused for aviation, except for police helicopters. It has been managed by the park service since 1972 as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

Salazar visited the former airfield and said the campground there will expand from five campsites to 90 over the next two years and may ultimately grow to 600 campsites. "You don't even realize you're in the middle of the city," he marveled.

The development of the Floyd Bennett Field campground is one of several initiatives aimed at improving access to the outdoors in the New York region under President Barack Obama's America's Great Outdoors campaign.

Salazar said the park service will work with local agencies in New York and New Jersey to link existing waterfront parks through a New York Harbor trail and greenway network.

The park service operates more than 26,000 acres of natural and historic properties, including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, in the New York region.

Salazar said the park service is beefing up its use of social media to reach younger audiences with stories of the region. For example, historic sites overseen by the park service will be featured in smartphone applications and video podcasts available on iTunes.

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