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Remember: The Coming Riparian Buffer at Cedar Beach Parkway

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Coming Riparian Buffer at Cedar Beach Parkway

I was standing in front of the statue of General Trexler at Trexler Park when I decided to write about parks on a blog. As I began my journeys, the day that changed me and my future happened at Cedar Beach Parkway. It was a particularly hot afternoon and I was stumbling around the various constructions in the Old Fashioned Garden when I thought of how nice it would be to cool off. I decided to go into the creek to try and attain this cooler feeling.

When I was younger, and I don’t remember with what organization or any names involved at all really, I attended some sort of nature camp at Cedar Beach and of all the various activities we did during camp time, I remember overturning rocks on the bottom of Cedar Creek the most. As I stood creek side, twenty years later, I thought of the excitement I felt as a child not knowing what to expect when I turned a rock over.

One leg at a time, I got myself into the creek. Where I stood, the water was rather cold and the sun had become more comforting than suffocating. Around me was thick vegetation. I had walked into the riparian buffer behind the reflecting ponds.

The plants were high enough that I could not see past them. I was alone, knee deep in cold water, in a place where no one else was and perhaps no one else had ever been. I certainly had no idea how many people wandered into the water to walk through this buffer. I knew how close Linden Street was, but it felt as if I had gone a thousand miles from where I had been before stepping in.

I took a deep breath and stood.

When I left the creek that day I walked alongside its banks to where there was no riparian buffer. I looked at the eroded creek banks, the sediment build up, the exposed roots of the willow trees hanging thirstily above the water and I thought: Why in the world has this been allowed to happen? I had just had a genuine experience with nature in an urban park and twenty feet downstream, nature was genuinely being abandoned. I was confused.

I began to do research and I started to learn about riparian buffers and proper management of watersheds. I wanted to fix the problems that were leading to the environmental degradation of these open spaces. I learned about invasive species and began to lose sleep over the Japanese knotweed in Trout Creek Parkway. I saw kids splashing in the filthy water in Jordan Park and I wanted to change the problem. At this point, I had changed. My blog had become the outlet to share my observations and concerns.

In October, I was able to spend a day planting hundreds of new species alongside Cedar Creek where a few months prior I stood in awe of the terrible conditions of the creek bank. In a few weeks, once all this snow has passed into memory, these plants will begin to grow. A long vein of new life will erupt in Cedar Beach Parkway and the first steps towards ensuring the ecological health of that park will be taken.

It is my hope that the experience I had, that brought me where I am today will be shared by many more people with the development of this new riparian buffer. I also hope that this will lead to new environmental educational programs in the park, especially for inner city children who otherwise would never have the chance to experience nature in this way. General Trexler wanted our parks to serve that purpose after all; it is time for them to do so.

Tomorrow will be part one of a two part post detailing the new plants, trees and shrubs that will begin growing in a few weeks alongside Cedar Creek. I’m beyond excited about it.

Related Video:

If you haven't seen it yet, this is a video I made about the problems facing our parks, and the future of them:

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Blogger Katie Bee said...

This is an incredible post. It's good that you pointed out that installing a riparian buffer is the opposite of abandoning the park, unlike what many people think. Without a man-made buffer, those enormous, iconic trees will simply die and fall into the creeks. It's ridiculous that these buffers are being judged on their aesthetic value, rather than their service value. I doubt that Trexler's dream for these parks included a bunch of rotting willow trees, invasive species, and enormous, muddy creeks. But that's where they're headed if things keep going the way they're going.

February 13, 2010 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Thanks Katie.

You know more than most how much these things mean to me and in all honesty, had I not walked into Cedar Creek that day, I would never have cared.

That is precisely why it is so important to make sure such creations continue to be priority for Allentown's parks going forward.

These places need to exist so these experiences can happen.

February 13, 2010 at 2:11 PM  

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