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Restoring Prospect Park.

In the 1860s, Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's vision of forested spaces for urban dwellers led to the creation of many gorgeous parks, including the magnificent 526-acre Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York. Except for the Terminal Moraine boulders of the area's natural hills and valleys, the Park is completely manmade.

A system of ponds, brooks, and waterfalls originally ran through wooded gorges into 60-acre Prospect Lake. Some of the pools and streams were silted in, according to Glenn Phillips, executive director of the Park's Audubon Center, and a 100-foot-deep ravine and other areas were closed due to natural and human-caused erosion.

The park has 7 million visitors a year--that's 14 million feet--Phillips says, and "that can do a lot of damage."

An ambitious project to restore Prospect Park has been underway since 1994, carried out by the Prospect Park Alliance, a public/private partnership with the city of New York. The Alliance's natural resources crew, the Youth Council's woodlands crew, and many volunteers have been working to restore it to its original state--but with a few differences. They're adding diverse new water plants and replacing the exotic Norway maples and other trees the founders imported with thousands of native plants, such as red, white, and pin oaks. Cattails and bulrushes will replace the invasive phragmites that have choked the waterways.

Visitors can see "cribbing," logs held by pegs on hillsides, and "coirs," large woven hemp mats, that hold the soil in place and give seedlings a chance to grow. Phillips says the project also entails extensive visitor education, including frequent signs explaining the importance of staying on paths.

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Olmsted and Vaux dedicated their lives to creating urban forests like Prospect Park. It's inspiring to know that, more than a hundred years later, others are dedicated enough to ensure that the founders' vision can live on.
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Title Annotation:News from the World of Trees
Author:Smith, Carolyn Steinhoff
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jun 22, 2004
Words:309
Previous Article:Native Trees for North American Landscapes.
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