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Remember: Cedar Beach Riparian Buffer ? : May 5th 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cedar Beach Riparian Buffer ? : May 5th 2010

Upon initial observation, it would be difficult to determine exactly where the riparian buffer at Cedar Beach is.  The scraggly, invasive species dominated area that is currently flagged as a no mowing zone is around 8 feet or less in length. 
There are spots where the “buffer” reaches about 12-15 feet around certain groups of willow trees, maples, and river birches.   Immediately following those extended growth areas, the buffer is trimmed to 4 feet or less.  I suppose this is in an attempt to strike a balance as the buffer concept is relatively new to Allentown park denizens.
If this piddling growth is an attempt to introduce park users to the idea of a buffer before going all out next year, fair enough.  Based on observations of a similar “buffer” architecture in the Lehigh Parkway, I would imagine that this is the best we are going to get.
Last October, during the volunteer planting, I assumed that the trees planted about 25 feet from the banks of Cedar Creek were to be the edge of the new buffer zones.  While 25 feet is not ideal, (100-300 feet is), it was a marked  improvement over nothing at all.  Alas, as I said above, with the buffer barely extending eight feet, these trees are outsiders on the lawn.  I have placed a meter stick at 25 feet from the creek bank in the picture below.  I have also laid behind the meter stick.  I am about six feet tall.  Behind me, in the back of the shot, you can see the orange flag that designates the current edge of the vegetative barrier.
On one side of the creek, the line of trees we planted exists in an area that is not mowed.  It is however immediately sandwiched between two mowed areas, one leading to the same scant eight feet of buffer seen throughout most of the park. 
Not that the length of buffer isn’t enough of an issue, the plants inside the buffer are a bigger concern.  Many of the plants we installed last October have begun growing, amongst thickets of invasive species.  Creeping buttercup and garlic mustard being the pretty ones, Poison Hemlock being the real issue.  (And yes, as in Socrates)
i take full consideration of the fact that this is the first year of riparian buffer development at Cedar Beach Parkway and I understand fully that a lot of training and work needs to be done to see the buffer come to a proper future fruition.  I would hope that Greg Weitzel has the plans in place to see that such a future occurs.  The last we met, Greg told me he was a conservationist and was rather adamant about the fact.  I believe this to be the perfect opportunity for Greg to prove it. 
Let’s see this buffer reach a minimum length of 25 feet, in all locations with mowed access points at occasional intervals.  To create such a buffer would in no way impact the open lawns meant for recreation, dog walking, and relaxation. 
Let’s see a team of volunteers trained over this summer to manage invasive species and have them implemented next year to begin to turn the tide and see native species return to Cedar Beach.

I am actively finalizing plans for a restorative “rain garden”.  A final plant list has been vetted and now donations must be secured.  Once said donations are acquired, I will be submitting a draft planting plan to Greg. 

The park staff is incredibly overworked and understaffed, whenever we can and however we are able to, let us see that their work is supplemented by our efforts and our support.  Bruce Solt and his boys deserve our thanks, they work hard. 
The following was published in 1999 by the University of Georgia in a mass effort to consolidate riparian buffer research and reach a conclusion describing the most effective buffer practices:

“Sediment is the worst pollutant in many streams
and rivers. Scientific research has shown
that vegetative buffers are effective at trapping sediment from runoff and at reducing channel erosion. Studies have yielded a range of recommendations for buffer widths; buffers as narrow as 4.6 m (15 ft) have proven fairly effective in the short term, although wider buffers provide greater sediment control, especially on steeper slopes. Long-term studies suggest the need for much wider buffers. It appears that a 30 m (100ft) buffer is sufficiently wide to trap sediments under most circumstances, although buffers should be extended for steeper slopes. An absolute minimum width would be 9 m (30 ft). To be most effective, buffers must extend along all streams, including intermittent and ephemeral channels. Buffers must be augmented by limits on impervious surfaces and strictly enforced on-site sediment controls. Both grassed and forested buffers are effective at trapping sediment, although forested buffers provide other benefits as well.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The park staff is incredibly overworked and understaffed, whenever we can and however we are able to, let us see that their work is supplemented by our efforts and our support. Bruce Solt and his boys deserve our thanks, they work hard.

We agree the park staff works very hard so please tell us how they are to be expected to daily clean this blacktop in Cedar Beach?

May 6, 2010 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

Creating a team of volunteers to manage the invasive species of Cedar Beach sounds like a perfect opportunity for environmental science and botany students at Muhlenberg and Cedar Crest to gain some extra credit (or an independent study.

If this ever comes to be (and I hope it does, I'm interested in volunteering) contacting those programs could be helpful.

May 6, 2010 at 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Both grassed and forested buffers are effective at trapping sediment, although forested buffers provide other benefits as well.”

Andrew, as you know, the Little Lehigh's left side exit at the new iron bridge is barren, not a blade of grass grows. Someone here wrote about Monday night's heavy rains washing the top gravel into the Little Lehigh.
Oddly enough, although folks in the past have pleaded with the park dept. to correct the nearby unsightly orange plastic tree wrappings and empty rusty former electric meter box on a dirty 2 x 4 feer, this barren spot on Wednesday received more gravel so it too in the next storm can wash into the Little Lehigh. Go figure.

May 6, 2010 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

I took pictures of that gravel addition yesterday afternoon, anon. I'll be writing about that and the "no mowing" of the spring tomorrow, check back.

May 6, 2010 at 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you get to that gravel spot yesterday before the gravel truck did?

May 6, 2010 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the Rain Garden ideas. Looking forward to you teaching us how to do one on our own.

May 6, 2010 at 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew, Not only is there that orange fencing issue near that open stream but by the next parking lot is an unusable ugly electric transformer (part of the old Lights route) that now easily could be removed.

May 6, 2010 at 10:55 AM  

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