c. Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Winter Work in Prospect Park

January 2, 2014

The Prospect Park Alliance’s six-person Natural Resources Crew conserves hundreds of acres of woodlands, lawns, and waterways in the Park. Winter conditions are ideal for some of the important work that is needed to keep the Park’s landscapes looking picturesque.

While tree pruning takes place year round, it becomes a key focus of the Alliance’s work in the winter months because the trees have lost their leaves, providing a clearer view of the trunks and limbs. The Alliance’s tree experts (arborists) have inspected over 13,000 trees in the past year, identifying those that need further care. Hurricane Sandy devastated hundreds of trees throughout the Park, especially in the Ravine and on Lookout Hill. In addition to carefully examining each tree, the Crew replaces those lost in the storm to close significant gaps in the tree canopy.

The Natural Resources Crew also scours the landscape to look for invasive species of trees, such as Norway and Sycamore maples, which can undermine the diversity of the Park’s natural habitats and also affect the overall health of its landscapes by blocking precious sunlight from the plants below. Understory trees, saplings, and herbaceous plants keep the soil compact, which reduces erosion. Without them, the dirt loosens, causing erosion that can take years to correct. The Crew is at work replenishing topsoil and protecting vulnerable areas with wood chips, as well as installing underground supports and burlap matting.

All this work will come to fruition in the spring, when the Park comes to full bloom.