The reservoir's historic structures & ecosystems are an opportunity to create a unique environmental education center for our children & their future.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Support from NYCAS

I was pleased to read the following in the May/June issue of the New York City Audubon Society's newsletter "The Urban Audubon":


"Highland Park, one of eight parks slated for development as part of Mayor Bloomberg's PIaNYC, is also home to the former Ridgewood Reservoir. This 50-acre site, formerly part of the City's water supply, was decommissioned and partially drained in 1989, and has become a unique natural habitat. Concerned about proposals to build ball fields on the site, a group of Queens and Brooklyn bird and nature enthusiasts formed the Ridgewood Reservoir Education and Preservation Project (RREPP) to fight for the protection of the reservoir site. RREPP has conducted breeding bird surveys, hosted educational tours of the site, and worked with other community groups to promote the concept of using the former reservoir as an environmental learning center. Recently, Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski assured NYC Audubon staff that the design team is considering all options as it creates a final plan for the park, and that community groups will be consulted in the process. "[The] Parks (Department] is aware of the natural greatness of the area and does not seek to destroy it, but rather make it accessible," she said. At this point, two of the three basins are proposed to be kept as nature preserves, while a portion of the third, a site dominated by exotic species, such as Norway maple, is being studied as a possible site for active recreation. NYC Audubon has strongly urged the Parks Department to commit to no net loss of forest cover within the Highland Park complex, to create access to the reservoir basins for passive recreation, and to explore the possibility of locating additional ball fields at other locations within Highland Park."

Commissioner Lewandowski's assessment of the trees in basin #3 is inaccurate and misleading. First, the northern half of the basin is dominated by Black Locusts. The southern end of the basin, which is considerably wetter habitat, is dominated by Grey Birch. Both species are native to North America. The following charts and excerpt was taken from an ecological assessment performed by a company hired by the parks department. Park's administrators either didn't read it or have chosen to ignore the information and continue to mislead the public. Note that the "West Basin" is what has been referred to previously as "Basin #3":

"The West Basin is the largest basin at the Ridgewood Reservoir Site, and had both the greatest number of plant species (n = 90) and plant communities present of any of the three basins. Despite this overall diversity, the majority of these species and communities were located in the southern half of the basin. The northern half of the basin consisted almost entirely of an open, savannah-like habitat dominated by only by black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) in the forest canopy and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) in the understory."

"To the south of this area, however, were numerous species and habitats of both wetland and conservation significance. Directly to the south of the locust-mugwort savannah, for example, was an interesting open grassy area with occasional clusters of grey birch (Betula populifolia) trees, sedges (Cyperus spp.), rushes (Juncus spp., Eleocharis spp.), and mosses. Based on the composition and structure of vegetation in this area, it appears likely that significant periods of inundation have occurred here, probably in the early spring and winter months. Further evidence of this was provided by the extremely shallow rooting systems of the few birch trees growing in this area, which is a common physiological adaptation to hydric soil conditions. Photographs taken by local naturalists in January of 2007 in fact show the open areas to consist entirely of standing water. Surrounding this open, grassy area were dense birch and poplar stands with little undergrowth, as well as large areas of rich woodlands dominated by grey birch, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), willow (Salix spp.) and poplar species (Populus spp.) in the canopy, with numerous composites (e.g., Aster, Solidago, Eupatorium, etc.), grasses, and other herbaceous species in the understory. These included the Endangered Eupatorium serotinum and Threatened E. hyssopifolium var. laciniatum as well as numerous facultative wetland species. To the south of these areas were a variety of habitats, many of which were more obvious wetlands, including birch and maple swamps and open pools of standing water in the southwest, herbaceous species-dominated wetlands (e.g., Scirpus cyperinus, Phragmites australis) in the south-central area, and more upland forests located in the southeast. The Threatened Ludwigia sphaerocarpa occurred in southwestern area, and south-central area had populations of both Eupatorium serotinum and E. hyssopifolium var. laciniatum."

To see another example of the parks department's deceptive tactics, check out their true regard for "exotic" tree species. This link will bring you to their list of street trees that they recommend (and plant) around the city. I have pasted the list below and noted the countries of origin. If the parks department were really concerned about "exotic" species, why are 24 of the 42 recommended species non-native to the US? They are just trying to set us up for the day when they begin cutting down and chipping the trees in the reservoir basins.

Eucommia ulmoides Hardy Rubber Tree (China)
Ginkgo biloba Ginkgo (China)
Gleditsia triacanthos inermis Honeylocust (US)
Gymnocladus dioicus Kentucky Coffeetree (US)
Liquidambar styraciflua Sweetgum (US)
Liriodendron tulipifera Tulip Tree (US)
Metasequoia glyptostroboides Dawn Redwood (China)
Quercus bicolor Swamp White Oak (US)
Quercus imbricaria Shingle Oak (US)
Quercus palustris Pin Oak (US)
Quercus phellos Willow Oak (US)
Quercus rubra Northern Red Oak (US)
Quercus spp. 'Fastigiata' Fastigiata Oak
Styphnolobium japonicum Scholar Tree (Asia)
Taxodium distichum Baldcypress (US)
Tilia americana Basswood / American Linden (US)
Tilia cordata Littleleaf Linden (Europe)
Tilia x euchlora Crimean Linden (Cultivar)
Tilia tomentosa Silver Linden (Asia)
Zelkova serrata Japanese Zelkova (Japan)

Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata' European Hornbeam (Europe and Asia)
Carpinus caroliniana American Hornbeam (US)
Cercidiphyllum japonicum Katsura Tree (Japan and China)
Corylus colurna Turkish Filbert (southeastern Europe)
Ostrya virginiana American Hophornbeam (US)
Pyrus calleryana Callery Pear (Korea and Japan)
Quercus acutissima Sawtooth Oak (Japan, China, Korea)
Quercus robur English Oak (Europe, northern Africa and western Asia)

Amelanchier canadensis Serviceberry (US)
Cercis canadensis Eastern Redbud (US)
Crataegus spp. Hawthorn
Koelreuteria paniculata Goldenraintree (China and Japan)
Maackia amurensis Amur Maackia (Manchuria)
Malus spp. Crabapple (Most originate in Japan)
Prunus cerasifera Purpleleaf Plum (Asia)
Prunus 'Okame' Okame Cherry (Asia)
Prunus padus European Birdcherry (Eurasia)
Prunus sargentii Sargent Cherry (Japan)
Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan' Japanese Flowering Cherry (Japan)
Prunus virginiana 'Schubert' Schubert Cherry
Prunus x yedoensis Yoshino Cherry (Japan)
Syringa reticulata Japanese Tree(Japan)

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