WINDSOR, Vt. — Botanists from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation conducted a wetlands survey of Paradise Park with Jim Bennett of the Paradise Park Commission, and scored the park’s environmental health as 63 out of a possible 100. The survey was part of a statewide rapid assessment program of wetlands.
The survey was presented to the Paradise Park Commission at the August meeting. It included a walk-through of the wetland area and sampling and testing of the flora therein. It didn’t include water sampling because the Hubbard Brook that feeds into Lake Runnemede was completely dry.
The botanists found a lack of adequate buffers between the wetland and developed areas, particularly on the Juniper Hill Road side of the park. Sediments deposited by Hubbard Brook during flood events have built up over the years, dividing the wetland into drier and wetter segments. The northern segment is drier, with water primarily coming from rain and flood events, and the southern segment is wetter and mainly supplied by natural springs.
A section of the northwestern pond was classified as a “floating leaf marsh,” healthy but in transition.
A major concern was invasive species, which in some places have replaced the native plants. Prime offenders are: Purple loosestrife, common reed, yellow iris, garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed, honeysuckle and buckthorn.
The survey group also looked at the area between the Main Dike and Route 5, finding, again “the section between the pond outlet and the foot bridge behind the Constitution House is also severely challenged by invasives” but otherwise quite healthy. It received a low score of 45 out of 100 mainly because of the proximity of developed areas with no buffer zone.
The commission talked about six or seven fallen trees on trail and planned for their removal.
Citizen Mike Quinn was present at the park commission meeting. Quinn made several comments: One, that in the past the trees that were down have been turned into benches, etc. for public use; that beavers should not automatically be earmarked for removal; and said the commission should be working on a Recreation Management Plan. Quinn also suggested the commission assess the park’s ash trees for the presence of Emerald Ash Borers, and take down any that are infested.
The 200-acre park in the heart of Windsor has miles of woodland and wetland trails, and is one of only ten places where Ogden’s pondweed flourishes.