I’m a big fan of Olmsted Naturally. The program is in place to create natural settings in our Olmsted Parks System. From compositing initiatives to Maintained Meadow Areas (MMAs), the effort creates a more natural, more balanced landscape that is not only aesthetically pleasing because of its diverse facets, it’s also conducive to safeguarding the indigenous plants and creatures that share the parks with us.
Following are some of the ways that the Olmsted Parks Conservancy facilitates the eco-forward measures:
- Invasive Species Management and Alternative Fertilizers
- Invasive Species and the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)
- Managed Meadow Areas (MMAs)
- Native Plantings
To me, walking around Ring Road at Delaware Park is a great way to get some exercise. But it’s pretty one dimensional. Did you know that there are parts of Delaware Park that are actually wooded, with walking paths?
There are also beautiful meadows that act as sanctuaries for birds and other wildlife. All of these natural settings are people-friendly, even though they are not specifically designed for people.
Years ago, this meadow (see below) to the west of the S-Curves, bounding Delaware Lake, was mowed throughout the summer. I never understood why anyone would waste resources to mow an area that was never occupied by humans. Occasionally people would illegally park their cars there, or dump their garbage – it was always a real eyesore.
Today that same parcel of park land is meadow that is full of life. There is a pathway running through it, which allows visitors to observe the birds in their natural habitat. There is nothing better than an early morning walk through this relatively undisturbed sanctuary – one that many people would not typically associate with Delaware Park.
While the wooded area and the giant meadow are fabulous assets within Delaware Park, there are lots of smaller natural pockets that are also nice… even though I believe that there should be more. Have you ever paid a visit to Central Park in NYC? There are some incredible nature paths on a much larger scale, which are reminiscent of Buffalo’s own wild bounty.
The middle of the S-Curves is a wasted space that should not be mowed, because no one walks there. It should be a meadow. And there should be additional Maintained Meadow Areas throughout all of the parks, which offer places for birds and animals to hide, nest, etc.
When we think about the nature of parks, we tend to think of sprawling lawns, picnic blankets, and playing Frisbee, for example. But there is another park angle that needs to be considered and reimagined. The meadow next to the S-Curves is a prime example of we can do to embrace changes that create healthier and more diverse park settings. It’s an important lesson to learn. At the same time, it’s a lesson that eludes many people.