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
• 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