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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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  • UnionAMG

    Are we sure Bidwell Pkwy isn’t included in this no-mow-zone? It’s looking pretty rough lately.

  • Buffalo’s Billy Sheehan

    It’s a shame Steve Kenny will still never get his just due…he was renaissance man….proving once again that Kenmore NY is way ahead of the curve on most things

  • LI2Northpark

    Cool article. Thx. It’s always hard for me to keep my dog from pulling me into these areas. 🙂
    Bidwell’s been a mudbog lately and not that easy to mow. About the same as my yard. I’d guess it should be back to normal by the end of the week.

  • johnb820

    Olmsted better watch out! They might get a fine for having their grass exceed 10 inches! It’s like mayor Byron Brown says, high grass is a quality of life issue and maintaining good quality reduces crime. It’s no wonder there is graffiti in the park, the grass is too high!

  • ChronicWestSider

    I would rather see some long grass in Bidwell Parkway than tractor ruts that will pool water and breed mosquitos. It has been a terrible spring for mowing- cut them some slack!
    The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy has done an outstanding job of maintaining the parks for which they are responsible. Did you ever see a city parks worker out everyday at 7 a.m. picking up litter? Have you ever seen each and every tree mulched so the mowers don’t hack up the trunks and kill them?
    Nice job Olmsted!!!

  • Pjcanfield

    There is really no need to mow Bidwell Park, Thats what the farmers market is for.

  • The Kettle

    This would be a great idea to implement on the Delaware Park golf course. An actual meadow would be much more accessible to the general public than 9 holes.

  • Chenango

    Remember, that this is the first season since Chris Collins stopped County funding of Olmsted. Byron Brown wanted to use that opportunity to cancel their contract with the city and hand out patronage jobs. But after some public push-back, renewed the contract, but with even less funding.
    You are now seeing the results.

  • Chenango

    Remember, that this is the first season since Chris Collins stopped County funding of Olmsted. Byron Brown wanted to use that opportunity to cancel their contract with the city and hand out patronage jobs. But after some public push-back, renewed the contract, but with even less funding.
    You are now seeing the results.

  • MrGreenJeans

    The “Park Approaches” are not to be used for ANYTHING beside shade trees and turf, accoording to the law. Insisting on trampling the ground into muck, when 60-foot paved lanes can be used on either side, is simply stupid, destructive, and illegal. Move the damned tables over a few yards onto the asphalt.

  • jvgriffis

    Some comparative photos might be nice. I love the idea, but I wonder how well it’ll fly in the city. I’d expect people to complain about rodents, among other things.