The Daily Plant : Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Saving Soundview Cottonwoods To Restore The Bronx River Forest
In December 2011, several dozen young eastern cottonwood trees (Populus deltoids) were slated for removal from Soundview Park in the Bronx to make room for a 15 acre salt marsh, grassland, and forest restoration project. In a very unique and imaginative use of resources, NRG Forester Adam Thornbrough proposed the idea of using a bioengineering technique that would save some of the young trees and transplant them to the Bronx Forest along the Bronx River. Cottonwoods are one of several species of woody plants that can root out from cuttings. Thornbrough and a crew from the MillionTrees Training Program (MTTP), led by Jason Stein, carefully harvested the cottonwoods, cut them into poles about eight feet long, and submerged them under water in Alderbrook Pond in Riverdale until they were ready to be planted.
Several weeks later, the Conservation Crew from the Bronx River Alliance (BxRA) joined NRG and MTTP to collect the cottonwood poles from Alderbrook Pond and bring them to the a site in the Bronx Forest along the Bronx River that had lost some trees during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. The crews combined forces to prep the planting area by manually removing the exotic invasive weed, Japanese knotweed, using shovels to dig out hundreds of knotweed clumps in a ¼ acre site in the Bronx Forest. After the knotweed was removed, they proceeded to auger 4 to 5 foot deep holes into the ground and planted 175 cottonwood poles. As the weather grew warmer, the poles woke up out of their winter dormant state and started to root underground, while sending out new shoots and leaves above the ground. The work helped to quickly create native tree cover in the open gap caused by the downed trees from Irene.
On May 23, 2012, NRG and a Natural Areas Volunteers (NAV) group led by Matt Genrich teamed up with Adam Rifast’s 8th grade science class from Bronx public school CS211 to help care for the cottonwoods and cut down the stubborn Japanese knotweed that resprouted. On August 8, NAV returned with 40 volunteers from Camp Tel Yehudah to cut down the fast growing Japanese knotweed again. NRG returned later in the summer to perform third cut of the Japanese knotweed. The repeated cuts will help weaken the Japanese knotweed and allow the cottonwood poles a chance to establish themselves during the first year of growth and eventually produce enough shade to keep the invasive weed in check.
Special thanks to Adam Thornbrough (NRG), Jason Stein (NRG), Matt Genrich (NAV), Daniella Pereira (NAV), Valerie Francis (BxRA), Elaine Feliciano (BxRA), and Mike Mendez (BxRA) for helping to make this a successful tree rescue story that will also help us fight the spread of invasive plants in our forests.
Ferdie has worked at the Natural Resources Group as the Bronx River Project Manager since 2009. He has worked on a variety of projects including fish passage, eel monitoring, oyster reef restoration, green infrastructure planning, and habitat restoration. Most notably, he developed a data-driven plan for managing invasive plants along the Bronx River that is becoming the model for other natural area systems. He is known for his great attitude, energy, technical ability and resourcefulness. Ferdie is leaving Parks on January 15 to start his own business as a dog trainer. He will be greatly missed and we wish him the best of luck.
“Try not to have a good time. This is supposed to be educational.”
(1922 – 2000)
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- Saving Soundview Cottonwoods To Restore The Bronx River Forest
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- Ground Broken on Soundview PlaNYC Project
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