Understanding Gaps in the Forest

By Alex Byrne

Canopy Gap in Van Cortlandt Park

One our sites that nicely demonstrates the native understory vegetation that was generated after the removal of invasives and small scale soil/root disturbance.

A part of the mission of the newly formed Van Cortlandt Park Alliance is to preserve and support the ecological value of Van Cortlandt Park. In this effort we value biodiversity, and the ecosystems that function to promote it. The world-class urban forests of VCP are still developing and require the management of both the human and forest tendency towards disturbance.

Before merging, collectively with the support of a DEC Urban and Community Forestry Grant the VCP Conservancy and Friends of VCP worked to restore native plant communities within forest canopy gaps. These areas are defined on the basis of lack of canopy cover, and typically have been invaded by a number of invasive plants. Like any process, over the last year we learned and re-learned a lot about canopy gaps, here are just a couple of the ideas we began to notice as we worked to restore VCP canopy gaps: Read more »

Press Release: A New Day for Van Cortlandt Park

A New Day for Van Cortlandt Park

Merger of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy to create single park stewardship organization

New Beginnings Picnic to be held on June 11 to celebrate the Launch of Van Cortlandt Park Alliance in the Bronx

For Immediate Release:  Tuesday, May 21, 2019

On the evening of June 11, elected and city officials, together with friends, supporters, board members and community members will gather at the New Beginnings Picnic to celebrate the creation of the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, formed by the merger of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy.  These two organizations shared the goal of creating a single, superior stewardship organization that will preserve, support and promote the recreational, ecological and historical value of Van Cortlandt Park. The Alliance will raise funds for programming in the Park, the preservation of its natural areas, the refurbishment of its infrastructure, and the execution of the 2034 Master Plan. The New Beginnings Picnic  will precede the annual concert in Van Cortlandt Park by the New York Philharmonic. Read more »

Play Fair for NYC Parks

At 4:40pm on a Friday afternoon there were still plenty of people in attendance at the City Council Budget Hearing for NYC Parks on March 9th. Just an hour earlier, there were almost no seats remaining.

On Friday March 9th, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park’s Executive Director testified along with over 50 other New Yorkers at the City Council Hearing on the Parks FY20 Budget to ask that the City increase the Parks’ funding by an additional $100 million.  Each year, the Friends and others attend this hearing to ask for an increase in the City’s budget for Parks because it is desperately needed.  This year, thanks to New Yorkers for Parks’ Play Fair Campaign, there were more people in the room than there has been in many many years.

If you are interested in learning more about the Play Fair campaign please visit NY4P’s website where you can join the effort and tell Elected Officials to Play Fair for NYC Parks.  Here is the testimony that Friends’ Executive Director Christina Taylor gave at the hearing:

“Thank you for allowing me to submit this testimony on behalf of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park.  First of all, I want to thank our Councilman Andrew Cohen for his vital support of parks.  Also, I would like to thank Chair Grodenchik for his leadership efforts to improve our parks. Read more »

For the Love of Swans?

Note from the ED: Sara Kempton, Director of the Programs for the Friends, is the biggest fan of swans on the Friends’ staff while the others are really not because of the ecological impact of these non-native birds.  Therefore, we decided that she should be the one to write a blogpost about the impact of swans to see if she would change her opinion.  Here’s what she found….

Written by: Sara Kempton

I have many fond memories of walks beside the lake with my family as a child. Of spending the day outside in Van Cortlandt Park enjoying nature and the wildlife we grew accustomed to. A highlight was always the ducks and swans in the lake. As far as I can remember Van Cortlandt Lake has had a pair of swans in it and each year we would wait for a glimpse of babies and watch as they grew up and flew away.  Never did I question if these magnificent white birds belonged here, never did I question how they affected the rest of the lake or the animals and plants in it.

Fast forward some years.

Mute swans (Cygnus olor) are a non-native invasive water bird introduced to North America during the late 1800’s from their native ranges in Europe. Meant to grace private ponds and delight humans they were released from breeding locations into the wild and, finding suitable habitat in NYS, did what non-native species do and established themselves. Read more »

Press Release: VCHM Landscape Plan

For Immediate Release
December 12th, 2018
Van Cortlandt House Museum Landscape Plan

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park (FVCP) and the Van Cortlandt House Museum (VCHM) are pleased to share with you the recently finalized “Van Cortlandt House Museum Landscape Plan”.  The Plan’s designs and presentation were created by Uziel Crescenzi, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park Intern and City College of New York Master of Landscape Architecture Student.  The Project Coordinators were Christina Taylor, Executive Director of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and Laura Carpenter Myers, Director of Van Cortlandt House Museum of The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York.  We are thankful to the numerous people who served on the Advisory Committee of this plan (see page 26) and included representatives from The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York, the Historic House Trust and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.  Read more »

Press Release: “White Supremacist” Flyers Found in VCP

For Immediate Release

November 9th, 2018

“White Supremacist” Flyers Found in Van Cortlandt Park

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park (FVCP) condemns the “white supremacist” flyers found in the Woodlawn section of Van Cortlandt Park on Thursday November 8, 2018.  More than any other Park in New York City, Van Cortlandt Park serves as the most important open space for numerous racially and economically diverse neighborhoods in the Bronx and Westchester County.  FVCP stands with our elected officials, neighbors and fellow community organizations against bigotry of any kind—especially when it involves our Park. 

If FVCP staff finds any signs promoting hatred in the Park, they will remove them immediately and inform NYPD and NYC Parks PEP officers of the location the signs were found. Hatred will have no place here.

Update: A GoFundMe page has been started to print posters, buttons and shirts to be distributd throughout the Woodlawn community to show that hate will not be tolerated.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, an independent community based organization, actively promotes the conservation and improvement of Van Cortlandt Park, the third largest park in NYC, through environmental education and restoration and enhancement of the Park, its forests and trails.   

For more information:
Christina Taylor, Executive Director of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park
Email: christina@vancortlandt.org
Phone: 718-601-1460.
Website: www.vancortlandt.org