Restore the GCL peat bog excellently

GCL-peat-bog-conservation-areaNote: There is overlap between this article and earlier ones (lower on the web page). Although there is a bit of repetition, the emphasis is different  in each article.

A recent update by the team for the Garden City Lands park enhancement project left me wondering if they intend to restore the sphagnum peat bog at all.

Project maps show the bog as more than half the park, as shown at right.

For certain, we don’t need the ecosystem to evolve to bog forest. In the big picture of City of Richmond parks, the Richmond Nature Park already fills that role.

I believe that the sphagnum peat bog restoration is vital. It should begin first, even before the central dike-road trail. It could even have begun when the city got title six years ago. The need was clear in 2009 when the city offered to buy the Lands, and any buyer would look ahead.

The update identifies project phases, and there’s no bog restoration phase. It’s not even in the future phases, years down the road. So far the city just does an annual cutback on the Lands, which does have net value. (But I wish they’d stop lopping the stunted pines, which are red-listed in association with sphagnum.)

When I talked to project team members at the project’s open house, they at least seemed to have restoration in mind in a warm and fuzzy way. A start.

In any case, it’s crucial to restore the keystone species—the sphagnum peat mosses. And systematic effort is required. In contrast, it seems now that the legacy bog could actually be harmed by other phases unless the bog restoration becomes more credible soon.

rerouting central dike-road trailIt’s also crucial to restore an area that’s actually peat bog. The best available info is from local expert Michael Wolfe (2011) and project consultant Terry Taylor (2013). The diagram at right gives a sense of where the central trail would best be placed.

Since the project is also trying to create a fen (in the SW area, the diagram also shows how the perimeter trail could be jogged to conserve an existing fen with a distinct ecosystem the project would mostly destroy.

Note: Michael Wolfe recommends a modified area that retains the unique ecosystem but best suits the pollinators that have chosen to make their home in that southwest corner.

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