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Assignment Questions


The Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, a 106-acre water body located in the middle of Central Park, was completed in 1862. The reservoir holds a billion gallons of water, and formerly distributed fresh water to Manhattan residents. The reservoir has stopped serving this function and its future is perpetually under discussion.

Your task is to create a restoration vision for the reservoir area and draft an outline plan for it’s implementation, defining a clearly supported restoration goal and taking into account the various stakeholders and continued uses of the area (for instance, the overflow from the reservoir is critical for providing fresh water to the Pool, Loch, and Harlem Meer). Follow the recommended steps (in the SER Primer, also see below) in developing your plan.

You will need to describe your goal and strategies for the steps of creating a restoration plan (see Write the Plan section below). While you are not responsible for creating a budget or a detailed public outreach program, it will be useful to keep those two factors in mind so that your restoration plan will be economically and socially feasible. If you cannot find information to fill in a section of the plan right away, DO NOT WORRY!!! Just state where you would look for this kind of information.

You’ll be developing this restoration plan quite rapidly, so for our purposes there is no need to format this exercise as a scientific paper. Rather, just follow the spirit of the SER guidelines below and the four steps elaborated further down.

What you need to do
1. Develop a set of restoration goals and objectives for the JKO reservoir
2. Use Manahatta2409.org to illustrate your proposed restoration plan.
3. Draft a 4-page restoration plan for the JKO Reservoir that addresses the SER guidelines below, that provides more detailed information than the illustration and that describes the results of the 4 step process below in more detail.

Developing a Restoration Plan
According to the Society of Ecological Restoration’s Primer, all restoration plans must have at minimum the following:
1. A clear rationale as to why restoration is needed;
2. An ecological description of the site designated for restoration;
3. A statement of the goals and objectives of the restoration project;
4. A designation and description of the reference site or condition;
5. An explanation of how the proposed restoration will integrate with the landscape and its flows of organisms and materials;
6. Explicit plans, schedules and budgets for site preparation, installation and post-installation activities, including a strategy for making prompt mid-course corrections;
7. Well-developed and explicitly stated performance standards, with monitoring protocols by which the project can be evaluated;
8. Strategies for long-term protection and maintenance of the restored ecosystem.

1. Research the site
Research the current and historical conditions of the area in order to:

• determine goals of the project
• assess the feasibility of successfully restoring to the goals
• help set up longer-term monitoring programs to evaluate success

Gather information on the historic condition of the area at various times in the past.
What are the various successional stages typical of this type of ecosystem?
What floral and faunal species are native in this area?

Identify the initial cause(s) of the ecosystem transformation.
How far back in time was this initial transformation?
What other factors have since contributed to the ecosystem’s degradation?

Determine the current species composition at the site and determine which are native and which are exotic. (Local conservation or natural history organizations like bird clubs, museums, native plant societies, etc.) might have undertaken surveys or otherwise gathered information on the species composition of the area.)

Determine the topography and drainage patterns of the site
depth to the water table
flow rates
water quality
seasonal flooding at the site

Describe the soil’s current structure and profile. Determine whether or not soil has been removed from the site and investigate the need for soil bioengineering (the use of dead or living plant material to rebuild soils) or other soil management strategies.

Identify key processes that maintain the ecological system. For example:
hydrological forces (floods, tides, base flow rate, etc.)
nutrient availability
pollination requirements

2. Set preliminary goals
Clearly define your restoration project’s goal(s), identifying the ecological and/or social values that are to be restored.
There are a variety of reasons for restoring an area, for example those reasons might include:
• improve a particular ecological function;
• transform a degraded ecosystem to one that resembles a prehistoric, historic, or entirely new but more healthy condition;
• increase the area of an existing ecosystem;
• lessen the impact of “edge effects” on a fragmented ecosystem;
• increase connectivity between existing ecosystems.

3. Assess Feasibility of the Restoration Project
Assessing the feasibility of the project is a critical step. It will help determine the project design, the resources required to implement the plan, and may lead to redefining the goals of the project itself.

Below are several issues that should be addressed as you develop your plan.

Consider land tenure issues at the site.
To whom does the land belong?
Does the title to the land rest securely with them or is there some controversy over who owns the land?
Is the owner interested in having the restoration project on this site?
Will that interest be sustained over the long term?
Who will have access rights to the area once it is restored?
Are the land tenure issues too cumbersome to undertake for this class project?

Identify stakeholders and their values. What kind of community support or opposition will this project have? (This could lead to a survey of local residents, businesses, civic groups, etc. regarding their support for or interest in a restoration project.)

Identify regulatory requirements and specifications for restoration activities For instance, permits required for moving dirt, for affecting wetlands over a certain size, for using chemicals, and for most aspects of construction. Are the permit procedures too cumbersome to undertake for this class project?

Other important questions include:
How much work must be done to prepare the site for restoration (soil bioengineering, removal of exotics, etc.)?
What personnel would it take to accomplish this project?
What work could volunteers do (weeding exotics, mixing in top soil and laying jute or another soil stabilizer, planting native species) and what work would need to be done by a professional or other staff?
What costs and benefits are associated with the project?
Will you be able to monitor the condition of the site over time?

4. Draft the plan
For this assignment, you will need to describe your vision and strategy for the first four basic steps of writing restoration plan:
Background and Site Description
Goals and Objectives
Project Design and Implementation
Monitoring and Evaluation

This section should include information on the history of the area and what successional stage has been chosen as the restored condition.

Goals and Objectives
Set specific goals and objectives for the project. A goal is a broad statement of what to accomplish and an objective is a statement that describes one aspect of how the goal is to be accomplished. Usually, several objectives are necessary to accomplish a goal. Objectives should say what will be done, when or for how long it will be done, and how it will be done. Objectives should be feasible and (ideally) quantifiable, as they will guide the design, monitoring, and evaluation portions of your plan. For example,
“By 2020, facilitate growth of Isotria medeoloides, a rare orchid species, by reducing crown closure of the forest overstory by 50%” or “By 2020, reduce stormwater discharged by the restoration area by 25%.”

For larger restoration projects that involve community outreach, make separate goals for biological parameters and community outreach in order to evaluate success at both levels of the project.

Project Design and Anticipated Performance
In this section, clearly illustrate your restoration design using Manahatta2409.com. Describe the changes you would make to the landscape, its composition and configuration and how these changes will contribute to your Goals and Objectives. You may be able to support your anticipated performance with some of the metrics from Manahatta2409’s “Environmental Performance” toolbar (but you may have other goals that are quantified by the website ??” that’s perfectly alright).

Project Implementation
In this section, briefly describe what types of work the restoration strategy entails. Detail the strategies necessary for implementing the plan, including but not limited to: restoring the physical environment (soils, hydrological system, etc.) and restoring the flora and fauna, but also issues like removing sources of the degradation, etc. Also at this stage, enter into more detail on issues such as supplemental irrigation, pest control needs, and the frequency of different maintenance regimes.

A good monitoring strategy will help you quantitatively evaluate the program’s progress towards your goals and objectives. Information collected during the initial investigations ??” such as base-line data on species composition and density ??” can be compared with data taken a few years into the project to see if management strategies are having the desired impact on the area. Similarly, for public surveys, baseline data on community support for the project can be compared with surveys taken later in the life of the project to see how people’s attitudes have changed towards the project.

Potential sources of Central Park information:

Rosenzweig, Roy; and Blackmar, Elizabeth (Contributor). 1992. The Park and the People: A History of Central Park. Cornell University Press, Ithica, NY.

Sauer, Leslie Jones. 1998. The Once and Future Forest: A Guide to Forest Restoration Strategies. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Mittelbach, Margaret and Crewdson,, Michael. 1997. Wild New York: A Guide to the Wildlife, Wild Places, and Natural Phenomena of New York City. Crown Publishers, Inc., New York.

Burton, Dennis. 1997. Nature Walks of Central Park. Henry Holt and Co. New York.

Rogers, Elizabeth Barlow; Cramer, Marianne; Berendt, John (Editor). 1987. Rebuilding Central Park : A Management and Restoration Plan. MIT press, Boston, MA.

Winn, Marie. 1999. Red-Tails in Love : A Wildlife Drama in Central Park. Vintage Books.

Beveridge, Charles; Schuyler, David, and Olmsted, Frederick Law. 1983. Creating Central Park 1857-1861 : The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Kinkead, Eugene. Central Park. 1990. The Birth, Decline, and Renewal of a National Treasure. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York,

There are faxes for this order.

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