Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lagoon Park Restoration Update

This map is at the southeast entrance to the Lagoon Park
 Minutes from the Lagoon Park - June 15, 2013
We were a group of 23 people enjoying a beautiful SUNNY day at Lagoon Park with Jim Engel and Stephen Lewandowski sharing information about the restoration happening at the Lagoon Park along Lakeshore Drive in Canandaigua.

Peggy Kane began with an overview of the Canandaigua Botanical Society’s effort to raise finances for the restoration project.  Funds are still needed and welcomed and may now be made through the Canandaigua Botanical Society. To see a letter explaining the fund drive:   To make a donation please contact
View of island from gazebo. Dead trees make great perches for eagles in search of prey.
Stephen Lewandowski of the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association gave us a history of the Lagoon Park which was the site of Roseland Park between 1925 and 1985.  He recalls that the Pacemaker train ran on the Lagoon Park property.  After Roseland Park closed, topsoil was moved from the Lagoon Park property to develop the current lakefront.  The city acquired this old drainage way of Canandaigua Lake in 1989 and redeveloped it with a trail system.  The vegetation was left to be a natural park.  In 2007 the City of Canandaigua upgraded the trail system with the current wooden bridges, fishing stations, gazebo, and other wooden structures.  The vegetation was again left in a natural state which has many benefits but also becomes vulnerable to plants not native to this area.  Through the years the native species have been choked out by invasive or exotic species of plants.  As the native plants decrease the insects, birds, and animals that rely on those native plants also decline.  Although the Lagoon Park is an outlet and not part of the Canandaigua Lake watershed, the CLWA has partnered with the Canandaigua Botanical Society to help Jim Engel restore the Lagoon Park vegetation to what it might have been 140 years ago when the Canandaigua Botanical Society was formed. 

View of restored area from north side of east bridge

The goal of the restoration project is to remove as many invasive/exotic species as possible and replant with several native species.

Exotic or invasive, non-native species have no pests and grow without competition displacing native flora and the fauna that depend on them.  As an example, if the beavers can’t find food and shelter here at the park they will look elsewhere like the nearby landscaped yards and parks.  The growth of invasive species shades out everything else creating an unnatural monoculture.
The problem with Buckthorn:  (
Why is Buckthorn so invasive?
*They have a growing season 58 days longer than our native plant species.  
*Their seeds can lay dormant in the soil for six years.  
*Their seeds and fruit contain allelochemicals that inhibit native vegetation growing nearby.  
*Their seeds can germinate in full sun or shady locations.  
*Buckthorn seeds can float on water for a week and remain viable.  
*They have no natural predators.  
*Buckthorn re-sprouts vigorously after basal pruning.

Reasons to remove buckthorn: 
A Buckthorn (center) that hasn't been destroyed yet.
Buckthorn kills native plants! Native plants cannot naturally compete with Buckthorn. Buckthorns are found in many forest understories, wetlands, prairies and river valleys. Native plants are our songbirds’ natural food source. When Buckthorn is all that remains, the birds eat the Buckthorn berries.
Buckthorn kills songbirds! When native plants disappear from an area where Buckthorn is dense, birds eat the berries of Buckthorn. However, the fruit of Buckthorn causes a severe, laxative reaction in the birds. If Buckthorn berries are the only source of berries in an area, the birds will eat the berries and excrete repeatedly until they become dehydrated and weak.

Jim Engel took us for a stroll to show us what work has already been accomplished through the volunteer labor of city officials, Boy Scouts, FLCC, CLWA, Botanical, and community members. The restoration project basically involves destroying the invasive species and re-establishing native species with seeds or plants.

Jim shared these lists of the exotic plants that are here and potential native replacements.(to be updated soon)

             Invasive species to limit: 
Buckthorn, crabapple, honeysuckle, multirose, privet, phragmites

            Species planted: 
American elm, American Chokecherry, Arrowwood Viburnum, Bayberry, Black Chokeberry, Bush Honeysuckle, Elderberry, Joe Pye weed, covers root, boneset, Spice bush, Winterberry,

Jim identifies many of the new plantings
cleared area - mulched and replanted
Brush left to compost

Jim estimates that one third of the park has been restored with native plants and that half of the invasive species in the park have been destroyed as the southeast entrance to the park was most infested with exotics and is where most of the work has been done. He pointed out that there are parts of the park that have mulch piles and some where there is brush.  Jim did work on the 2 ½ acre island where he seeded instead of planted at a lower cost.  The 2 ¾ acres of pathways are being planted with trees, shrubs and herbaceous plugs.  Over time it will be interesting to compare how the re-establishment proceeds under varying conditions of brush versus mulch and seed versus plantings. 

Stephen came prepared with clippers to remove even more invasives

Due to the excess rain this past week many of the plants were in standing water. 

Jim explained that it’s sometimes difficult to know where to plant the right plant in the right location.

 It was remarkable to see how much of the ground was cleared as a result of destroying the invasive species.  Just the Buckthorn covered so much of the park that native species did not have enough light to survive. 
Most of the surviving native species are along the trail's edge where sunlight was able to reach them.

The group continues on past the restoration sites to see what more needs to be done.

Steve and Jim at the bridge - center park

Look what I found on the internet:
                  I found this on facebook: THANKS to Mark Skipworth

This bridge carried the Roseland train over the lagoon. It remained after the train ride was removed, and was still there in 1990 (5 years after the park closed) when Mark Skipworth took this picture. Notice the ties are still on it, but no rail. The City took it down in the late 90's when they revamped the area to how it looks today.

Here's a short video from our walk thanks to Scott Pukos of Messenger Post News:

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