More about the storm--from Regina and yesterday's N.Y. Times
Red Oak near 100th Street
Yesterday I sent a note to Regina Alvarez, the park's Woodlands Manager, and the Conservancy's all-important liaison to the birdwatching and nature-loving community. I asked what we could do to help, in addition to making contributions. She answered:
The damage is unbelievable, I have never seen anything like it. If you have not seen it yourself yet, be prepared to be shocked. The Great Hill was hit the hardest. We are trying to keep positive about it, recognizing that landscapes always change. This was not the work of vandals, it was a natural event and although it feels devastating, we will replant those areas and eventually we will have beautiful landscapes for us to enjoy and habitat for our wildlife.
and from yesterday's New York Times:
As Wood Chippers Whine, Central Park’s Toll of Uprooted Trees Rises
They swept from patient to patient Thursday morning, like triage medics on the battlefield grappling with decisions of life and death: This one probably can’t be saved. That one might — with amputation.
Savagely shorn of its limbs, the giant pin oak anchoring a treehouse in Central Park’s newly renovated $2 million West 100th Street Playground received a grim diagnosis.
“It’s a close call, but it’ll probably have to come down,” said Neil Calvanese, vice president of the Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit agency that runs the park for New York City.
Thirty-six hours after a freak nighttime storm scythed through mid-Manhattan, felling an estimated 500 trees and snapping branches off thousands more, an arboreal trauma team fanned out through the hardest-hit sections of Central Park and Riverside Park, mapping the devastation for hard decisions ahead. The estimate of felled trees in Central Park, put at fewer than 100 on Wednesday, grew to several hundred on Thursday.
“This is the saddest part to me,” said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, as experts gave little hope to two damaged yellow buckeyes, in the horse chestnut family, that still towered over thickets of downed foliage but seemed destined for the wood chipper.
He said they probably dated from the 1920s or ’30s, “but we won’t know until the ring count.”
The whine of the chippers filled the northern reaches of the park as 18 crews labored over the fallen lumber and greenery, mulching it into piles like giant anthills for moistening the soil throughout the park. The wood may not be sold for furniture or even firewood because of its infestation by the Asian longhorn beetle.
At the murky green lagoon known as the Pool, David Fuhrman, 48, standing out in a yellow T-shirt and orange hat, cast a worm for bass — just as he had been doing Tuesday night about 10 when the storm arrived.
“I ran into the tunnel,” he said, pointing out the vaulted grotto a few steps away.
There were no injuries reported as a result of the storm, Mr. Benepe said, perhaps because the tempest immediately sent everyone fleeing the park.
The storm wreaked havoc with park wildlife as well. A fledgling scampered near Mr. Benepe’s feet, apparently prematurely dislodged from its nest. “It’s not ready to fly,” the commissioner guessed. “The mother will come for it.” And the stripped chestnut trees, he said, had probably housed what he called “a raccoon hotel.”
He said that in addition to trees uprooted in Central Park and on city streets, Riverside Park lost 65, Randalls Island lost 35, Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem, 3. Officials called it the worst damage in decades.
Final tree-by-tree determinations would not come for several weeks, said Douglas Blonsky, president of the conservancy and the park’s administrator. But the mapping began Thursday with Bill Berliner, a conservancy arborist, and Anna Colletti, an administrator, identifying standing trees by their “d.b.h” — diameter at breast height — and noting their condition on a chart. The information would then be transferred to a computer database of the parks’ 24,130 trees with at least a six-inch base diameter.
Trees that lost a large limb were at grave risk of dying, Mr. Calvanese said. “Once you open up a wound like that, a column of decay sets in,” he said, adding that painting the gash with tar only sealed in the decay.
Tulip trees, the tallest-growing trees in the city — reaching heights of 150 feet and once favored by American Indians for canoes — had their branches “snapped off like a piece of dry spaghetti,” said Mr. Benepe, leaving their soaring trunks standing like toothpicks. Two hickory trees that had stood near the Conservatory Garden since the early 1900s lay uprooted, “irreplaceable,” Mr. Calvanese said.
Damaged American elms will be particularly hard to replace as a result of the onset of Dutch elm disease, he said. The ailment killed 28 of the city’s elms last year. Sweetgum trees lay stacked on the ground like cordwood, as did London plane trees, hybrid sycamores that were the trees of choice of the city’s master builder, Robert Moses. “It seems they just exploded,” Mr. Calvanese said.
The restoration work would probably cost the conservancy close to $500,000, which would have to be raised with the help of donors, Mr. Blonsky said. But the loss of trees would probably be valued in the millions.
The destruction seemed to be unintentionally selective. A deciduous conifer kept a stately vigil by the Pool. “This looked like it came through unscathed,” Mr. Benepe marveled.
“Not a branch touched,” Mr. Calvanese agreed. “I mean, look at it.”
A faint consolation, they said, was the unexpected vistas of city skyline that might now poke though gaps in the greenery. But they said they hoped that would not be the case for too long. To forestall a threat from black cherry and other fast-growing invasive species, new trees are to be planted soon to replace those that were lost.
“Our grandchildren will get to see them,” Mr. Benepe said.