PHILADELPHIA, PA - In Fairmount Park, you may have noticed some big changes to the wooded area near Belmont Plateau and the Horticulture Center.
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation officials say hundreds of trees have been cut down over the past week as a forest restoration project is underway.
Tom Whitmer is the Operations Manager for Philadelphia Park and Recreation’s Natural Lands Restoration department.
“It’s a whole series of reversing many decades of decline,” explained Whitmer. “There is no regeneration or new trees growing on the forest floor. Anything that does get growing, whitetail deer tend to consume, so we have no future forest coming up. This is a forest on a trajectory of death essentially.”
Last winter, officials took three full days to walk through roughly 30 acres of forest and identified trees which are native to the area. The project area totals approximately 30 acres and includes three distinct project sites, identified as Lansdowne Glen (13 acres), Montgomery Creek (11 acres) and Michaux Grove (6 acres). Non-native species at the site include paulownia ailanthus, cork, and devil’s walking stick.
The area is large and you can see crews cutting down trees near Montgomery Drive, Belmont Avenue, and to the west of I-76.
Jamie Gauthier of the Fairmount Park Conservancy explained that they’re also adding a new half mile trail to the area and said, “It’s necessary because we want to create an ecological environment here that is more beneficial to the birds and the plants and the mammals that frequent this area and that could frequent this area.”
According to Philly Parks and Rec., the proposed project is focused on:
- removing the overwhelming invasive tree and shrub species (winter 2017/18);
- erecting deer fencing surrounding each project site to eliminate browse damage (spring 2018);
- and replanting to reestablish a native forest plant community (fall 2019).