PROSPECT PARK

The Prospect Park Alliance may be showing us the future of may of our forests.  It is a bit frightening reading the material on their website.

The woods that define and shape the beauty of Prospect Park are nearly extinct. 70% of the Forest is dead or dying.

Have you seen the signs that the Forest is dying?

exposed roots

tree branches with dead limbs

bark peeling off the trunks or branches of tree

soil, so hard that water and air cannot penetrate and plants cannot grow

no shrubs or wildflowers growing on the forest floor

If we do not intervene, you and I, our children and our grandchildren will lose:

the grand oaks, maples, white pine and ash

Prospect Park is home to the last remaining woodlands in the borough of Brooklyn.

These woodlands are part of the landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux 135 years ago. They were fashioned out of existing and new forest plantings to create an experience of the natural world already inaccessible to most the fast-growing city of Brooklyn.

These woodlands visually define the experience of this Park. For most of the Park's history, these woods have been neglected--largely left to their own devices, to survive the onslaught of what was already in the 1800s one million-plus visitors a year.

Today, serving more than six million visitors and receiving no maintenance by the City, the woods have become increasingly fragmented and open as trees become stressed, diseased and topple to the ground.

Severe soil compaction, resulting from foot traffic and, more recently, mountain-biking through the woods have caused huge gullies to form. The eroded soils from these gullies have moved downslope and silted all parts of the Parks' intricate water system -- its ponds, streams and lakes.

The collapse of our woodlands' ecosystems is at hand. Throughout the woodlands are progressively deteriorating sections of forest. This map illustrates, in bronze, areas of the forest that are dead or dying.

The future holds promise of large tracts of one or two aggressive non-native tree species dominating the woodlands and offering limited or no food-value to resident and migrating wildlife.

The future must be quite different. The Prospect Park Alliance, in public-private partnership with the City of New York, will undertake the systematic stabilization and maintenance of the 250 acres of woodlands, a parcel at a time, and the use of native plant materials. Together with the Park's Landscape Management Office, we will rebuild the woodlands from the ground up to create a state of health, environmental integrity and diversity.

We have identified the specific tasks to stabilize and restore the Park's natural areas. Snow fencing and logs will block trails to discourage mountain bikes. Log cribs will be pegged into the slopes to re-establish the grade, the existing subsoils will be aerated and topsoil, native woody plants and saplings will be placed in the cribs.