Archive for February, 2011

SNOWCOVER NEVER LIES: TRACKING THE HISTORY OF THE TRAIL

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

PAWS AND SHOES, BOOTS AND SNEAKERS. BICYCLE WHEELS AND SLEDS ARE DETECTED ON THE MORRIS PARK ROAD TRAIL THIS MORNING.

Keeba inspects trail for evidence of other dogs.  Morris Park Philadelphia

Keeba inspects trail for evidence of other dogs. Morris Park Philadelphia

Five inches of fresh powder in late February. This snow was like the old days in December 2010, a fluffy dusting, a reminder that winter still has its grip on our region. Before the snowcover is gone for the year, coming soon, there is a need for some mention of how great snow is for tracking.

Nothing is lost on a fresh coat of snow.  The wanderings of deer and fox, human and dog are recorded exactly as they are on the frozen sheet of snow.  If we would like to follow the passage of any of these creatures, this is the time.  We can live the morning commute of a white-tailed deer, or of an energetic canine by following their footpath.

The snowcover will hopefully protect the soon-to-be emerging wildflowers from having their delicate buds being crushed by feet.

The log-bordered trail, in some sections, was designed to wind around  our populations of delicate and beautiful spring wildflowers, so they can be appreciated, photographed, drawn, inspected, meditated upon, admired and thoroughly enjoyed without being crushed accidently.

It is heart-warming to see so many tracks on the trail, that there is an enthusiastic usage in our community of this fantastic and inspiring natural area, right here in the City Of Philadelphia, one of the largest cities in the country.  The diversity of native-to-Pennsylvania trees, shrubs and wildflowers in Morris Park is notable.

While the City Of Philadelphia has a distinguished and great personality in its people and its amazing architecture (especially our rowhomes, which are spectacular in architectural detail), our parks that represent and contribute to the diversity and richness of the flora and fauna of Pennsylvania are the most astounding quality of  our urban status.  Philadelphia is a city of homes and forested Parks.

Philadelphia Pennsylvania: A city of homes and forested urban Parks

Philadelphia Pennsylvania: A city of homes and forested urban Parks

Here, there is a heavily used Morris Park trail, with a neighborhood of fine row-homes in the background.  This image robustly illustrates how a densely populated urban area can elegantly co-exist with it’s northeastern deciduous Pennsylvania piedmont forest location.

What is most uplifting is the amount of appreciation from the surrounding community there is for this arrangement.  The sense of belonging, attachment, usage and responsibility is clearly evident in the tracks in the snowy trail.

Reports have been coming to the Sanguine Root from dog walkers who not only carry bags with them to pick up after their dogs in the park, but are also remembering to bring an extra bag, so they can pick up trash that may have been accidentally introduced into the park. (Sometimes trash will come out of our pockets when we reach into them to grab a bag to pick up after our dog).   We at the Sanguine Root have actually found trash that we accidently dropped from our own pockets a few hours earlier. Isabelle exclaimed just yesterday upon finding a receipt from Shop-Rite  on the trail: “Thats my garbage! I polluted!”

We also track some of the most unfortunate circumstances we face in the area: heroin users who leave behind empty bags and paraphernalia, sometimes in alarming frequency and with disturbing deposits, sometimes very close to our homes.

There are those that toss their empty beer cans into the forest along the trails. The Sanguine Root does our best to not let our blood boil.  We pick them up, and move on. When we hear of other neighbors doing the same, we feel even better!

The Morris Park Road trail has become a place where the neighbors see each other and talk. it is an everyday experience. In the most heavily used sections there is hardly a bit of trash found, because someone in the neighborhood has picked it up.

Our neighbors in Overbrook, Philadelphia, enjoying a sunday afternoon in Morris Park

Our neighbors in Overbrook, Philadelphia, enjoying a sunday afternoon in Morris Park

When we go into the park, we want to experience the woods, and luckily enough for us here in Overbrook, the woods is right here.

The snow clearly shows how much the park is being used.  All the foot traffic we see is inspirational.

For anyone who is able to get to an accessible natural area or park, we recommend  that you take a walk in your place if you can.

“Take a walk in the park” -one of the Sanguine Root’s mantras.

By the way, less than 30 days until spring, so enjoy all that winter has to offer!

Heard shrieking in the park last night, these are most likely Fox tracks. They put their back feet in the same placement as the front in what is called 'direct register'. Morris Park Philadelphia

Heard shrieking in the park last night, these are most likely Fox tracks. They put their back feet in the same placement as the front in what is called 'direct register'. Morris Park Philadelphia

THREAT ASSESSMENT: MAPPING A FOREST’S FUTURE

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

SANGUINE ROOT STAFF TASKED WITH MAPPING SPECIES ARALIA ELATA IN MORRIS PARK. OVER THIRTY DISTINCT POPULATIONS FOUND PARK-WIDE.  SPECIMEN COUNTS INTO THE THOUSANDS AT SOME SITES.

The Japanese angelica tree (Aralia elata) grows along the riverbanks near the picturesque Stone Sherwood Road bridge in Morris Park Philadelphia

The Japanese angelica tree (Aralia elata) grows along the river banks near the picturesque Stone Sherwood Road bridge in Morris Park Philadelphia

We were charged with the task of mapping out the populations of  the invasive exotic  Japanese angelica tree, Aralia elata, so that the eradication strategy can be done as efficiently as possible, targeting the populations that threaten crucial areas of the park first. These populations would be the ones threatening the least disturbed areas of the Park. These areas get the highest priority of protection.

On this past Friday’s Aralia elata eradication work-day, we were awakened to the alarming expansion rate of this species. Isabelle astutely asked “how old are these trees?” We counted the rings of  a specimen stump we cut in preparation for the triclopyr herbicide , and we got the answer. The specimen, approximating two inches in diameter at the base was not even 10 years old.

The large area we were trying to eradicate was young.

 

 

A small population of Aralia elata has been detected next to a section of high-quality forest

A small population of Aralia elata has been detected next to a section of high-quality forest

We decided to make a day of it and map out all of the populations we could find. We were surprised to find large populations that we had not previously noticed. In the picture to the left, we found a small grouping of this invasive exotic growing adjacent to site v-79a, designated a high-quality forest site with a high priority of protection by the Fairmount Park Master Plan. This, in our estimation, should be given priority status in eradication.

The mapping exercise was a fun and educational way to spend a sunday afternoon.  It was like going for a walk in the woods with a purpose. As we drew our map, our understanding of the park was expanded greatly and we became very aware of the park’s relationship to the species Aralia elata. We noticed that the largest populations tend to grow further from the creek on drier land. We also noted that when there is one noticeable specimen, there can be many smaller ones to be found. This helped us count the populations as we became familiar with the growth habits of groupings of different sizes.

Sean Solomon was not pleased to discover a population of over 1000 Aralia elata directly adjacent to a high priority protection site, The Fairmount Park Master plan site s30, a stunning water cascade of  west Indian Creek and rock feature

Sean Solomon was not pleased to discover a population of over 1000 Aralia elata directly adjacent to a high priority protection site, The Fairmount Park Master plan site s30, a stunning water cascade of west Indian Creek and rock feature

We also became familiarized with the shape, color and habit of the species, to the point where we could spot even a small one from a distance. We trained ourselves over the past few weeks.

Site s30 with a large infestation of Aralia elata on the hillside above it  West Branch of Indian Creek, Morris Park Philadelphia

Site s30 with a large infestation of Aralia elata on the hillside above it West Branch of Indian Creek, Morris Park Philadelphia

Even with the 30+ populations we discovered, and the numerous specimens to be eradicated, we are optimistic of the eventual eradication of this species from Morris Park.  So far, in just one day, we made a serious effort at eradication of 2 populations approximating 500 specimens. With this in mind, the possibility of a complete map and an eradication blueprint that can be completed with the aid of Fairmount Park and  community volunteers, could be attained.  The importance of this accomplishment will not only benefit Morris Park, but any natural areas nearby and the environment as a whole as this problematic species is addressed.

Site s30 awaits preservation and future restoration of its immediate neighboring areas.  Morris Park, Philadelphia

Site s30 awaits preservation and future restoration of its immediate neighboring areas. Morris Park, Philadelphia

Aralia elata near the Woodcrest avenue opening, Morris Park, Philadelphia

Aralia elata near the Woodcrest Avenue opening, Morris Park, Philadelphia

The Sanguine Root staff urges that eradication of this emerging invasive species be prioritized. The dense stands of Aralia elata have not yet completely crowded out the native species in their shared areas, and the populations have not yet become widespread in their potential habitats, like so many other invasives in Morris Park.  However, judging from the spreading habit and rate of increase, this species presents a threat to Morris Park’s upland areas and well-drained hillsides, where some of the most diverse and high quality forested areas are present.

The Japanese angelica tree has a distinctive winter pose, left front in the foreground, the lighter colored tree

The Japanese angelica tree has a distinctive winter pose, left front in the foreground, the lighter colored tree

Please be sure to visit our mapping efforts on our website. We will be continuing to improve the map, and update the status and exact locations of individual specimens and populations. We will also be uploading a photograph of each site when it is appropriate.

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS:
A DAY OF THOROUGH ANGELICA TREE REMOVAL

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

DEDICATED AND TALENTED ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION TEAM TACKLES TECHNICALLY CHALLENGING TASK OF REMOVING JAPANESE ANGELICA TREE.

Isabelle Dijols cuts down Aralia elata  (the Japanese Angelica Tree) - Morris Park, Philadelphia

Isabelle Dijols cuts down Aralia elata (the Japanese Angelica Tree) - Morris Park, Philadelphia

In partnership with Fairmount Park Environment and Stewardship Division (Philadelphia Parks & Recreation), The Sanguine Root staff and community volunteers focused on removing a significant and problematic population of Aralia elata from Morris Park.

See February 17th’s post for more information on the Aralia elata invasion problem in the park.

Scott Umlauf, Darby Creek Watershed Resident, hard at work restoring his part of the watershed

Scott Umlauf, Darby Creek Watershed Resident, hard at work restoring his part of the watershed

Scott Umlauf successfully cuts down Aralia elata in preparation for herbicide application by Certified Fairmount Park Technicians

Scott Umlauf successfully cuts down Aralia elata in preparation for herbicide application by Certified Fairmount Park Technicians

Tom Dougherty, Land Steward, Department Of Parks and Recreation, applies herbicide to cut stumps and trunks of Aralia elata

Tom Dougherty, Land Steward, Department of Parks and Recreation, applies herbicide to cut stumps and trunks of Aralia elata

Luke Rhodes, Restoration Field Technician,Department of Parks and Rec targeting hundreds of cut stumps and basal bark application of Aralia elata

Luke Rhodes, Restoration Field Technician, Department of Parks and Recreation, targeting hundreds of cut stumps with herbicide, and applying basal bark application to larger uncut specimens

Sean Solomon, co-founder of The Sanguine Root, expresses profound gratitude to the dedicated community volunteers and Fairmount Park Staff

Sean Solomon, co-founder of The Sanguine Root, expresses profound gratitude to the dedicated community volunteers and Department of Parks And Recreation Staff

Amongst a grove of Aralia elata, the remaining husk of an American Chestnut fruit

Amongst a grove of Aralia elata, the remaining husk of an American Chestnut fruit

The Herbicide used is Garlon 4 ‘ultra’ dyed blue to prevent redundant applications.

Meticulous cut stump herbicide application - Morris Park, Philadelphia

Meticulous cut stump herbicide application - Morris Park, Philadelphia

Luke Rhodes and Sean Solomon strategize

Luke Rhodes and Sean Solomon strategize

Lunch Break!

Lunch Break!

Red Tailed Hawk spotted on Morris Park Road by Jacob Russell

Red Tailed Hawk spotted on Morris Park Road by Jacob Russell

Luke Rhodes applying basal bark herbicide to Ailanthus altissima

Luke Rhodes applying basal bark herbicide to Ailanthus altissima

Tom Dougherty on urban environmental restoration: "The devil is in the details"  (treating Ailanthus altissima) - Morris Park, Philadelphia

Tom Dougherty on urban environmental restoration: "The devil is in the details " (treating Ailanthus altissima) - Morris Park, Philadelphia

Ten Ailanthus trees (Ailanthus altissima) were also addressed. These trees were throwing out thousands of seeds every year creating a huge problem of seedlings that constantly had to be pulled and the threat of a more serious infestation.This is the tree often found growing out the sides of buildings, in sidewalk cracks, vacant lots and back alleys. The amount of property damage it has done is astounding, and it has the potential to destroy the entire built city in a matter of a few years if left alone. In a forest setting it will crowd out native species and create a monoculture of trees.  This menacing invasive was introduced as an ornamental in 1784.  It has a distinguishing foul odor when the plant is disturbed.   We are very happy that our Department of Parks and Recreation technicians were able to apply basal bark herbicide to the trees.

Basal Bark herbicide application of Ailanthus altissima

Basal Bark herbicide application of Ailanthus altissima

Group Picture

Group Picture

Thanks again to our great crew: From Left to right, Luke Rhodes, Sean Solomon, Isabelle Dijols, Scott Umlauf, Thomas Dougherty, and Jacob Russell