Planning for future of parks

It’s that time of year that we talk about how the year went and future plans for our parks.

Thornwood Nature Preserve had a good year. We had about 3,000 visitors over the course of the last year, including the pin heads who like to tear stuff up. Most of our ash trees are gone, but on the up side, there’s good news on the fight against the Multi-Flora Rose problem.

It seems that there is a fungus that’s carried by mites that attacks and kills the bushes. The downside is that it also attacks roses in your garden. This means we don’t have to spray as much as we did in the past. It will take a bit longer, but it’s worth it not to have to kill other plants.

Also, with some help from volunteers, we’ve planted 80 Eastern White Pine trees along the pasture trail next to Morristown Pike. This will eventually provide a wind break and a place for birds to build nests. Also with volunteers, we planted around 180 new milkweed plants in the hopes of attracting more Monarch butterflies to the area.

Beckenholdt Park has added a couple more trees to the tree walk, thanks to Greenfield-Central High School Rover team. The informational signs on the trees have been replaced. If you saw last month’s column, you know Pritzke’s Pond has had it plants cataloged. There’s also been a new trail added, mowed only, that goes through part of the prairie plantings and the area we are reforesting. It’s half a mile long and gives you a closer view of those two areas.

As far as future plans go, we have been kicking around a few ideas for these two parks. I must add that nothing has been carved in stone. We have a Master Naturalist student who wants to work on the trails at Thornwood, and she will be laying out a new trail this winter for consideration.

Out at Beckenholdt Park, we’ve been discussing a possible observation deck on the hill overlooking the pond. A concerted effort to remove invasive plants from the park is in the works. We’re talking about the usual ones; Autumn Olive, Bradford Pear, Japanese Honeysuckle, Garlic Mustard and Canada Thistle. As to the Canada Thistle, at least 90 percent has been removed, so it’s down to simple removal as to whatever pops back up. It’s a never-ending battle.

We also have some informational signs to be installed in various places in the park. Rumor has it that we are also due for a prairie burn in 2018. Prairie burns are essential to maintain the health of the area by ridding it of weeds and allowing some of the plants to propagate.

In addition, we’ve been kicking around the possibility of a mountain bike trail in the new woods to the south (next to I-70).

If you have any of these trees you need removed, let us know. Keep in mind we must dig by hand, so keep them small. We’re also on the lookout for other trees to plant in the reforesting area.

Joe Whitfield is a naturalist and gardener for the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfield