Restoring Canopy Gaps in Van Cortlandt Park

Canopy Gap in the Northwest Woods near the Yonkers border in Van Cortlandt Park that the Friends are working on this year.

Canopy Gap in the Northwest Woods near the Yonkers border in Van Cortlandt Park that the Friends are working on this year.

One of the intriguing questions of modern ecology is what set of principles dictate the structure of plant communities and what factors contribute to the heterogeneity of forest biodiversity. One mechanism in NYC forests are canopy gaps. A canopy is represented by the photosynthetic parts, the leaves, of the largest trees in a forest. A canopy gap forms because of large trees, falling to the ground as a result of poor soil conditions, the development of strong wind vortices, old age, disease or likely a combination of these. The alteration in light intensity and microclimate, triggers an opportunistic response from the plant community, which as a function of varying physiological adaptations, causes a dramatic change in plant species composition relative to the forest interior. Canopy gaps generate a mosaic like landscape structure that likely increases species richness at the scale of whole parks, however non-native plants tend to dominate the communities within canopy gaps, ultimately leading for a need for better ecological understanding and management. Read more »

8th Graders Become Advocates for Daylighting Tibbetts

Students created this model showing a daylighted river in the Van Cortlandt Park, next to the highway, and then going into an underground (separate) tunnel around 230th street. The water then meets the Harlem River.

Students created this model showing a daylighted river in the Van Cortlandt Park, next to the highway, and then going into an underground (separate) tunnel around 230th street. The water then meets the Harlem River.

This spring, the Friends’ staff had the pleasure of hosting 8th grade students in Van Cortlandt Park from Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Queens for two days for our “Wetland Stewardship for a Healthier Bronx” educational program which is funded by an Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education Grant.  During their time with us in the Park, we focused on Water Quality Monitoring and Daylighting Tibbetts Brook while exploring around Van Cortlandt Lake. Read more »

25 Things to Do During the Summer of 2018

Van Cortlandt Lake in Van Cortlandt Park Bronx, NYHappy Summer Solstice.  We hope you will be spending some of your summer in Van Cortlandt Park and to help you plan what to do- here are 25 Things to Do in Van Cortlandt Park during the Summer of 2018 (in no particular order). Get out and explore VCP this Summer!

1.) Take a Rowboat Out on Van Cortlandt Lake
Fridays June 22nd to August 24th from 4:30pm to 7:30pm Village Community Boathouse will provide FREE rowing in their fleet of traditional wooden rowboats. Children under 18 years old need a parent present to sign waiver. Enter the park at Van Cortlandt Park South & Bailey Ave. Meet near the Lake. Read more »

VCP Where NYC Discovers: Interns Dig Deep for Biodiversity

Written By Alex Byrne

Tim Wheeler, a graduate student from the University of Rouen in Normandy, France, out in the field in Van Cortlandt Park.

With over 1,100 acres of park land Van Cortlandt Park stands as one of New York city’s last refuges for animals adapted to forest and wetland habitat. It truly is where NYC discovers, with great potential for the park to be used as a natural laboratory to understand how urban environments differ from their rural counter parts and how science research can improve our understanding of the effects of different restoration, enhancement and management practices. Starting in May of 2018 ecologists at the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park with help from two college interns have begun a largescale assessment of arthropods to characterize community structure andto generate a park wide map of arthropod diversity (insects, spiders). Additionally, one location for our study, the Tibbetts brook flood plain, is slated for ecological enhancement by FVCP staff to increase the native biodiversity and integrity of ~2.5 acres of flood plain habitat. The data we collect will be used to understand how arthropods, typically highest in animal biomass, respond to the removal of non-native invasive plants and how they reassemble themselves as the habitat recovers from management. We chose to target arthropods as a function of their lack of attention by NYC Parks which typically concentrates a majority of their work and site assessments on the presence or absence of plants. Establishing an arthropod sampling protocol and providing species data will diversify and aid the efforts of NYC Parks. Additionally, we will be collecting a suite of environmental variables to better understand the relationship of arthropods to landscape characteristics with an emphasis on the effects of coarse woody debris, invasive plants, habitat type and soil chemistry. Read more »

Press Release- Tree Plantings Ceremony for FVCP Founders

Tree Plantings Ceremony for Friends of Van Cortlandt Park’s Founders
Monday April 16th at 1pm
Van Cortlandt House Museum

FVCP Founder Felicity Nitz speaking at our 25th Anniversary Gala pictured with Congressman Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Founder Frances Beinecke.

FVCP Founder Felicity Nitz speaking at our 25th Anniversary Gala pictured with Congressman Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Founder Frances Beinecke.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park (FVCP) celebrated our 25th Anniversary in 2017. Founded in 1992, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park is an independent community based organization that actively promotes the conservation and improvement of Van Cortlandt Park, the third largest park in NYC, through environmental education and restoration and enhancement of Van Cortlandt Park, its forests and trails.  FVCP celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a gala on Sunday October 15th, 2017 where we honored our 6 Founders: Felicity Nitz, Frances Beinecke, Susan Morgenthau, Elizabeth Scheuer, Jane Sokolow and Sybil Wailand and promised to plant trees in their honors.

At 1pm on Monday April 16th, 2018, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park along with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation will plant 6 “Green Mountain” Sugar Maple Trees in honor of FVCP’s 6 Founders along the southern fence of the Van Cortlandt House Museum. Read more »

Testimony for FY19 Parks Budget Hearing

The pedestrian side of the bridge along the John Kieran trail which is currently closed due to safety reasons.

Friends of Van Cortlandt Park’s Executive Director gave the following testimony at the NYC City Council Parks Committee Preliminary FY19 Budget Hearing on Tuesday March 27th, 2018.

Good afternoon.  Thank you for allowing me to testify. My name is Christina Taylor and I am the Executive Director of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park.  First of all, I want to thank our Councilman Andrew Cohen for his vital support of parks.

We all know that NYC Parks is underfunded.  They have been for many many years and this needs to change.  The Friends would happily join you to urge Mayor de Blasio to increase funding for NYC Parks.

A few years ago, NYC Parks approved a comprehensive Master Plan for the first time in the park’s history, however that Master Plan will never be accomplished in 20 years with the current rate in which project are funded and implemented. Read more »