Most Wanted Invasive Plant Species in Our Natural Areas

A massive bittersweet vine climbing up a big Tuliptree in Van Cortlandt Park. Our staff got to this vine before it took down the tree.

A massive Oriental Bittersweet vine climbing up a big Tuliptree in Van Cortlandt Park. Our staff got to this vine before it took down the tree.

Below are the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park ‘s 10 Most Wanted Invasive Plant Species in Van Cortlandt Park (in alphabetical order).  Learn more about the invasives species trying to take over our forests by clicking on each name to see their Wanted Poster.  Please note: there are plenty more invasives in the Park but these are the 10 we are currently most worried about.

Why Are We Concerned? Read more »

Completion of a New Entrance to VCP

For Immediate Release
October 9th, 2018

Completion of a New Entrance at West 261st Street
and the VCP Master Plan 2034

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park (FVCP) is pleased to announce the completion of a new entrance into Van Cortlandt Park at West 261st Street and Broadway.  FVCP is indebted to Councilman Andrew Cohen for assisting with funding and many staff at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks), particularly Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, who oversaw the planning and implementation.

The new entrance shows that transformative improvements to the park do not need to be elaborate or expensive.  There is an exceptional new Greeter Garden with seating; a path from the street; and (at the back of the lawn) a new trail leading into the park’s extensive system of hiking and jogging trails.  FVCP is helping to maintain the area through mulching, weeding, watering, lawn care (through a private landscape company) and trail maintenance. Volunteers are welcome! NYC Park’s Natural Resources Group is also about to undertake an exceptional restoration of the forest flanking the lawn with invasive plant removal and native plantings.  FVCP will remain committed to helping to maintain the area with private fundraising, staff time and volunteer hours.  The work at West 261st Street complements other improvement projects FVCP is undertaking with private donations—the restoration and maintenance of the “Grand Central Stones” on the Putnam Trail and the creation of a historic landscape plan for the Van Cortlandt House Museum with improvements already taking place on the grounds. Read more »

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 »