THE BRONX - South Brother Island is now the property of the New York City Parks Department.

State Senator Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) and the Trust for Public Land signed over the island?s deed Tuesday to the Parks Department. Serrano, who helped secure the federal funding needed to preserve the island, says keeping it in the parks system gives the city ?the opportunity to enhance all discovery of the south Bronx waterfront.?

The 7-acre island is located half a mile off the shoreline of Hunts Point. The island has been privately owned since the area?s first European settlement. The only occupant of the island over the years, however, has been a colony of birds.

?God knows how many chicks are out there,? says NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. The commissioner estimates 1,000 adult birds currently occupy South Brother Island.

Supporters of the $2 million deal to acquire the island call the land a testament to the future of the Bronx.

?We're helping save generations,? says John Calvelli of the Wildlife Conservation Society. ?At the end of the day, we're not just saving South Brother Island - we're saving ourselves.?