Accidental bogicide

Option A for enhancement of the Garden City Lands, one of three options that, in significant ways, harm what our central park is meant to conserve.

The Garden City Lands park concept planning by the City of Richmond, which is well done in many ways, has major shortcomings too. In that context, this article looks at a shortcoming in the way that theory has been expressed in concepts. This example is just one of many possible ones that show insufficient understanding of what the nature of the lands is saying.

In all three “options” of the Garden City Lands concept from the City of Richmond, the “Bog Watercourse” is an example of how the concept designing went astray despite good intentions.  On all three maps, it’s in the same place, as shown in the Option B map below.

Option A for enhancement of the Garden City Lands, one of three options that, in significant ways, harm what our central park is meant to conserve.

The orange 10 means “Bog Watercourse.” At one end of it, near the southwest corner, the 9 in an orange circle means “Storm Water Retention,” At the other end, just southeast of the middle of the Lands, the blue 28 means “Sanctuary.” The Sanctuary, which is a place where people can get away in peace, seems in great in theory, but it needs to be in a more appropriate place. It is illustrated, as shown below, on the City of Richmond’s display boards.

Sanctuary

What is actually there, near the middle of the lands, is the best remaining patch of sphagnum moss. As well, it is the only identified patch of one of the two identified sphagnum species on the Lands. (There are lots of patches of the other species.) If I recall correctly, that “Sanctuary” patch is in a slight depression—good for retaining rainwater—that would be a key reason why it is in such good condition. Sphagnum mosses are the keystone species in any sphagnum bog, restoration of the bog on the Garden City Lands would depend greatly on that patch, the one source of spores for its species. Unfortunately, implementing the planned design would soon destroy that unique patch, which has likely been conserved by nature for centuries, as I’ll explain next.

It is envisioned that storm water will be flushed out of the City Centre into the southwest corner, the “Storm Water Retention” corner. That area of rushes, with the “meadow” extending north to the current main entrance, is a nesting ground for red-winged  blackbirds and ring-necked plovers and a busy home to native bees. From there, the native bees can be helped to spread throughout the lands as needed, especially for pollinating native species that have been there, like them, since long before honey bees arrived.

When we were developing the PARC concept map introduced in “Listening to the Lands = PARC,” conservation biology teacher Michael Wolfe concluded that the water conditions there must be just right for the nesting birds and native bees and birds, and we consequently showed dyke trails that would enable separate water management of that area. Flushing water when rainstorms happen hit would conflict with that aim. Furthermore, it would bring City Centre contaminants in water that is probably alkaline (from concrete) to the sphagnum patch that needs clean acidic water.

Extending the old stream bed to the “Sanctuary” will also have an ongoing draining effect. That conflicts with the usual aim of maintaining a water table at around 12-14 inches to facilitate bog restoration.

The old stream bed is discernible near the southern edge of the lands, so it seems to me that all that’s needed is an interpretive sign on the perimeter trail there.

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