As Amanda, Sean, Dan, Heather, Claudia, Doc McGuire, Karen, my parents, and I walked around Trout Creek Parkway yesterday examining incredibly serious established areas of invasive species growth; we were walking through ground zero of invasive species infestation here in the city of Allentown.
Japanese Knotweed, Multiflora Rose, Japanese Stiltgrass, Chinese Sumac, Purple Loosestrife and more… These invasive species are the dominant species of Trout Creek Parkway and the purpose of our EAC walk around the park was to identify them, see the effects on the ecosystem created by their presence and to have an open discussion about the future of invasive species management in the city of Allentown. It also transformed into an impromptu litter clean up.
What will ultimately be a long battle is just beginning all across our parks and our backyards. A united effort needs to begin immediately to face this growing threat. There are many strategies to explore and experiment with. There are many volunteer efforts to be coordinated. Bottom line, there is a lot of work to be done and lot of determination necessary from the city government and our citizens.
On a cloudy, halfway cool and mostly muggy afternoon with bags full of trash, a plastic shopping cart, a rusty children’s bike and a homeless man asleep on a bench, the folks who made up the EAC tour of Trout Creek Parkway took the first step towards a future of proper invasive species management. A huge thank you to my fellow EAC members David McGuire and Karen Tuerk for helping lead the way, a major thank you to Claudia for providing us an opportunity to experience her great amount of knowledge and another thank you to the folks who came out for a walk in the park.
Perhaps the most telling moment of yesterday afternoon came during a break on our walk back. Covered in mud, with heavy bags of collected trash we stopped on a bridge and saw a Kingfisher fly past. It is incredible to consider that despite the epic amounts of trash, the ecosystem dominated by invasive species and a park in desperate need of ecological restoration, there – flew a Kingfisher.
Imagine what could be if our parks were ecologically restored! Imagine the experiences people would have and the connections to nature that could be developed! It is more than a possible future. To that end, below the pictures, I have a look at the future of Trout Creek Parkway given to by Parks and Rec Director Greg Weitzel.
Remember the Kingfisher.
“Trout Creek is classified by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as a High-Quality Cold Water Fishery (HQ-CWF) that supports reproducing native brown trout (Salmo trutta). Trout Creek originates from a series of springs surrounded by the pristine woodlands of South Mountain , but unfortunately as it flows into the City of Allentown it becomes seriously degraded.
Trout Creek suffers from the non-point source pollution and habitat degradation typical of a neglected urban stream, and as a result is listed on DEP’s list of impaired waters (formerly the 303(d) list).
The mile and a half reach we propose to restore flows through Allentown’s Trout Creek Park and is highly channelized with long expanses of gabion basket walls and a series of small concrete dams.
Much of this reach completely lacks riparian vegetation and the streamside vegetative communities that do exist are composed solely of invasive plants, including Japanese knotweed (Polygonium cuspidatum), Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), and Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). As a result the creek lacks: the shade necessary for water temperature moderation, the leaf litter inputs necessary to support a healthy macroinvertebrate community, and the in-stream structural diversity to provide sufficient fish habitat.
We plan to improve water quality and in-stream habitat conditions, restore the riparian corridor, re-create floodplain and upland wildlife habitat, and educate the community about the importance of natural resource protection in urban areas.
Specifically we will:
* Remove the walls and dams channelizing a 1.5 mile reach of Trout Creek
* Re-grade stream banks to restore the Creekâ€™s access to its floodplain
* Work with Pa. Fish & Boat Commission to install in-stream fish habitat structures
* Eradicate approximately 14 acres of Japanese knotweed and other invasive plants
* Convert approximately 10 acres of lawn into native warm season grass habitat
* Restore the riparian corridor by planting approximately 500 native trees & shrubs
* Install a variety of bird and bat boxes throughout the park
* Install Grow Zone markers to help protect the newly established riparian
* Develop and install educational signs throughout the park
* Educate the community about the importance of urban habitat restoration
through newspaper articles and public meetings
* Engage the community by organizing volunteer cleanups in Trout Creek Park
* Develop a riparian buffer and invasive plant management plan to guide the City of
Allentown’s maintenance activities at this and other parks]
Even though we have not received notice of award of grant funds yet, we’ve still been making a significant effort to rid the park of the Japanese knot weed,cutting as much as possible in preparation of the spraying which will begin in August. A former EAC member (Mike Adams) helped supply several contractor contacts last year and after field visits and quotes were received, we’ve hired a state licensed firm to spray the knotweed after we cut to a manageable height. We’ve also had several groups doing stream bank clean-ups this year, as the park is frequently used as a dump site over the winter months.
Last but certainly not least, we recognize that this park is in need of major renovations. The park is on the list for a master plan in the next several years
(Jordan Park is the next large park for master planning).”