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Maintained Meadow Areas (MMAs)

By Thea Hassan:

Portions of the parks within the Buffalo Olmsted Conservancy are getting a sustainable makeover. The park management group aims to convert at least 20 percent of each park to maintained meadow areas. These areas will contain native plants only, and mowed once or twice per year.

“Managing and maintaining a man made landscape, which all public parks are, is anything but natural,” wrote Steven Nagowski, of the Buffalo Olmsted Conservancy, in an email. “We have to cut the lawns, fertilize the trees, water the plants and occasionally spray for diseases and pests.”

Parks within the Olmsted management include Cazenovia, Delaware, Front, MLK Jr, Riverside, and South. The initiative stems from Olmsted Naturally, a committee of Olmsted employees with the goal of making their park system in Buffalo the greenest in the nation.

“Olmsted Naturally is looking at alternatives that will have a much lower environmental and carbon footprint,” wrote Nagowski.  “One of our findings was that Maintained Meadow Areas are a way to reduce the level of open lawn we will need to maintain and also provide excellent bird habitat for our wildlife.”

Because their plans require the removal of turf, followed by replanting of native grasses and perennials, maintained meadow areas are more expensive than traditional management techniques. But the greener management technique is cheaper in the long term, and have a  myriad of benefits, according to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Commission, including:

•    aesthetically pleasing
•    introduction of native plants
•    restoration of former habitat
•    enhanced biodiversity
•    reduction of carbon impact from mowing and maintenance

Additional planned sustainable practices for the parks include:

•    Native plantings
•    Invasive plant control/removal
•    Composting
•    Pesticide and Fertilizer Alternatives
•    Natural Restoration Areas
•    Compost Teas

Want to check out a maintained meadow area for yourself? Head down to Delaware Park Golf Course, near the War of 1812 memorial stone, where a maintained meadow area has been initiated.

Image caption: Natural restoration area – photo by The Landmark Society

Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo's non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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