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Remember: Beyond Cedar Beach Parkway

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beyond Cedar Beach Parkway

Yesterday I noticed that I have tagged Cedar Beach Parkway in 27 posts. This is understandable, given my coverage of the deconstruction and construction in the park as well as the resulting controversies that have occurred because of said constructions. Cedar Beach Parkway is not however, the park in Allentown most in danger. It is not the park that needs to be tagged 27 times.

As I have made clear here on Remember there are two particular parks in Allentown that are currently in dire environmental straits. That is not to say that there are parks here with no environmental issues, all of them have some, these two parks are in the worst shape.

The first of these parks is Trout Creek Parkway. The entire length of the park (and Trout Creek) is dominated by a nasty invasive species called Japanese Knotweed. Invasive Species are particularly harmful to local ecosystems because they flourish rapidly and as a result of their dominance, they deprive native species of vital nutrients and available habitat. In Trout Creek Parkway, on the creek banks, there is no plant species but Knotweed. Farther from the creek, another invasive species called Tree of Heaven is also widespread throughout the park.

Both of these species are fast colonizers and given that Trout Creek intersects with The Little Lehigh Creek not far from the park, these non native plants threaten to continue their spread throughout urban Allentown and eventually to points beyond. Given the ecological importance of healthy Riparian areas and the ability of Japanese Knotweed to quickly dominate such locations, the removal and eradication of the plant in Trout Creek Parkway should be a priority of the city going forward.

The DCNR classifies both Tree of Heaven and Japanese Knotweed as “serious invasive threats”.

The good news about Trout Creek Parkway is that the Parks Department and the Wildlands Conservancy are currently working out a plan to deal with the invasive plague in Trout Creek Parkway this summer. It is my hope that they secure the needed funding to tackle this intense project, because if conditions remain as they are - the entire ecosystem in Allentown is in danger.

Long ago, the second park most in danger was a naturally occurring wetland. The presence of this wetland is documented in a City Council briefing on Allentown parks from the late 1970s. The swamp was drained and the creek dammed to create a lake for Allentown residents to swim in. Years later, this lake was filled in with sand and the majority of damming structures removed as the park was renovated by the W.P.A.

Today, Jordan Park is suffering badly from the remnants of the long removed dam. The Jordan Creek is nearly rendered stagnant by a remaining concrete bridge and the creek banks themselves are, for the most part, entirely made of concrete. The Jordan Creek is seriously threatened in this area.

All these concrete structures need to be removed and a proper Riparian zone needs to be established in Jordan Park. Here too, there is good news. Plans are afoot to begin to deal with the significant problems at Jordan Park. In moving forward with development at Jordan Park, the DCNR provides a good guideline for Riparian restoration:

“ Use native plants in riparian buffers around any surface water body, including wetlands. Riparian buffers help to filter pollutants before they reach water bodies, and the vegetation discourages nuisance geese from staying in the area. Roots from riparian vegetation also prevent erosion of soils into the water body and minimize flooding events. Shade from these buffers acts as a temperature control for the water body, which enhances habitat value for aquatic organisms. The food and shelter values of these buffers also enhances habitat. In addition, by selecting the right kind of plants, the scenic views of water bodies can be enhanced.”

With plans on the horizon to save Trout Creek Parkway and begin the process to save Jordan Park, it is my hope that such environmental guidelines are in fact the guidelines used to repair these devastated areas.

Don’t forget, even at Cedar Beach Parkway, a new riparian buffer will begin growing this spring and it will begin to help the healing process that ecosystem is in desperate need of.

I’ll be watching Trout Creek and Jordan Park as the weather turns warmer. I hope that the active citizenry which led to 27 posts about Cedar Beach Parkway since last April can turn attention to these parks that are sorely lacking from it. I look forward to a healthy environmental future for these parks and it looks like that future is on the way.


Blogger michael molovinsky said...

the trexler grants, and other grants, being used to pay greenway consultants, the destination playground, paving, etc. could have been used to remove the invasive species. it's simply a matter of priorities. apparently riparian buffers have become fashionable enough to receive some resources, but without the needed therapy you describe, its shelf life will be short.

January 28, 2010 at 7:13 AM  
Anonymous Ron, The NorCo Bulldog said...

B.O., WTF?!

January 29, 2010 at 9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Common sense and good conservation necessitates we take care of the situations at places like Jordon Creek and Trout Creek first. Please help me to understand how the city can start major new plans when money and park staff is so limited. Does saying this make me anti-bike,anti-park improvement, anti-administration,a racist for peats sake? God save us if that is where this debate goes.

February 2, 2010 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Anon 10:57,

What you are saying is completely common sense, and correct. I love the idea of a new plan to connect our parks through new trails. I don't think it should be done without fixing these issues first, and according to Greg Weitzel, these issues are going to be fixed this year, if grant money is secured. I am waiting and hoping it happens. It is the most needed work to be done in our park system. I'll remain on it.

February 2, 2010 at 11:08 AM  

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