Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bronx Putnam Trail

From: Andrew Baksh
 Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 10:44 AM

Subject:Summer is the perfect time to add heat on 3 agencies to Save 
the Putnam Trail !!

Please pass this on to as many environmental conscious people/groups 
that you can.

I would put this on the NY list serve but I don't want to start a flame 
war by those who are uninformed and too lazy to get informed.

Sent from somewhere in the field using my mobile device!

Andrew Baksh

Begin forwarded message:

 From: Save PutnamTrail <> Date: August 13, 
2013, 10:35:39 AM EDT To: Subject: Summer 
is the perfect time to add heat on 3 agencies to Save the Putnam Trail 

It's never the summer doldrums on the Putnam Nature Trail

It's teeming with wildlife, birdsong, butterflies, trees, and grasses 
...and the issue of whether to pave it with 2 acres of asphalt.

Last year bore fruit. We were told for months that paving "was a done 
deal." Yet now the city is reconsidering.

Let's keep up the pressure - on the DEC, PDC, and with Parks 
Commissioner Veronica White. That's where the matter rests. Write them 
and let them know that we don't support using our tax dollars for 
paving over nature!! Listed below are some themes below that can be 
utilized in letters. Letters can be emailed, printed, or handwritten. 
There's also a sample letter template.

The three agencies to focus on:

1. Harold J Dickey NYSDEC Region 2 Headquarters 47-40 21st St Long 
Island City, NY 11101 Application ID: 2-6001-00014/00008 
paving/widening the Putnam Trail in Van Cortlandt Park

2. Jacqueline Snyder, Executive Director Public Design Commission of 
the City of New York City Hall, Third Floor New York, NY 10007

3. Veronica M. White Commissioner, New York City Department of Parks & 
Recreation 830 Fifth Ave New York, NY, 10065

Utilize the technical items below and pick a few as your theme.

1. A narrow belt of wetland forest still survives along the Putnam 
Trail around the open water, where pin oak and red maple trees grow 
above Solomon’s seal, Virginia creeper, marsh fern, and sensitive fern. 
Predators like barred owls and red–tailed hawks sometimes hunt in Van 
Cortlandt’s wetlands. (taken from website, this makes it 
credible and official).

2. No EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) was ever done for this 
project. Paving 1.5 acres of asphalt on the Putnam Nature Trail would 
significantly affect the quality of the human environment and the 
wildlife that lives there and is supposed to be protected by the city 
and state. The Putnam Nature Trail runs through environmentally 
sensitive areas, including Forever Wild Preserves. An EIS must be 

3. The trail crosses and runs along two of four Forever Wildlife 
Preserves in the park: the lake/brook and Northwest Forest.

4. Snapping turtles inhabit the lake and every year cross the Putnam 
Trail on a search to find nesting places. Their migratory pattern will 
be severely altered during construction and permanently altered with 
the new widened and heavily trafficked trail. Heat from asphalt affects 
egg-hatching and sex determination which will impact the turtle 
population. The snapping turtle is the State Reptile.

5. The water quality of the lake/brook where these and other creatures 
live will be permanently altered because of runoff. The parks dept. 
says the soil has contaminants in it because the rail lines for 100 
years used coal ash and other substances to fortify the rails. Digging 
this up in all kinds of weather is bound to affect the quality of the 
lake/brook waters and wetlands. Asphalt can help also accelerate 
degradation of water quality in the lake, brook. Both are Forever Wild 
preserves which the city is supposed to protect, and the wetlands 
(marshes) are supposed to be protected by the state.

6. Widening is an environmental no-no creating “fragmentation of green 
space” where seeds/pollen of unwanted species get pulled into an area 
because of lack of tree cover. Over time these drive out desirable 
native species.

7. The wetlands along the trail are already stagnant, with marked 
amounts of algae and fungi in them. Many believe this was caused by 
construction blocking free-flowing water during parade ground 
construction. City rangers have placed logs in certain places near the 
trail which has staunched the free-flow of brook water which feeds the 
marsh and lake. The city/state should focus on how to make precious 
green areas healthier.

8. There are countless birds that nest along the trail. June is 
breeding season and if construction begins, it will disrupt breeding 
and nesting patterns. Once new breeding, nesting patterns are 
established elsewhere, the birds generally don't come back. Birds on 
the Putnam Trail include Baltimore orioles, ruby-throated hummingbird. 
Migratory birds that frequent the trail: Rusty Blackbird, Pine Warbler, 
American Goldfinch, blue-gray gnatcatcher, warbling vireo, palm warbler.

9. Native plants thrive along the trail: Bellwort, Bloodroot, False 
Solomon's Seal. Wildflowers grow in the rail beds. Around the open 
water is pin oak and red maple trees and Solomon's seal. Virginia 
creeper, marsh fern, and sensitive fern. Construction will harm all of 

10. Predators like barred owls and red-tailed hawks hunt in Van 
Cortlandt's wetlands.

11. This project will impact historical sites and archeological 
structures. There are historical artifacts that should be deemed 
cultural assets for the city and region. Among them: a switching tower, 
mile markers, warning poles and lines, and ties embedded in the ground.

12. The Parks Dept. has repeatedly stated that the Putnam Nature Trail 
is too environmentally sensitive to host any type of running events on 
it. If this is the case how can we pave 1.5 acres of asphalt and remove 
countless trees? This seems a many times more harmful than allowing 
large groups of runners on the current trail.

13. Statistics reveal that 1 in 5 newly-planted trees survive. The city 
is claiming it is replacing cut down trees with 400 whips or small 
trees. It will take years for these trees to grow. How many will even 

14. City Park's claim that they are only cutting down 7 "mature" trees 
has been changed to they are cutting down 7 "live" trees. Why this 
change? Why are they playing with language?

15. Besides this, any one looking at photos of the Trail knows there 
are hundreds of trees that will be affected by the clearcutting planned 
by City Parks. A City Parks supervisor was heard to say that at least 
44 trees were being removed. Why did this supervisor tell the public 
"only" 7 trees, and then turn around and tell insiders more than 40 
were being cut down?

16. The wholesale removal of grasses, plants, flowers, trees along the 
trail prevents rain water from getting absorbed. Combined with asphalt, 
this will result in dramatic shifts in water levels of the marshes, 
disturbing the wildlife and plant life that lives there. The loss of 
vegetation will lead to erosion because there is nothing to absorb rain 
water. The wetlands are already under pressure due to construction 
projects in the park. The state/city are supposed to protect the 
wetlands, not allow them to become drained. Wetlands filter air to 
improve air quality and fend against air pollution. Wetlands offer 
wonderful educational opportunities for adults/children. As John Liu 
said: once you lose a natural area you never get it back.

17. Parks are supposed to be accessible but in a state-protected 
preserve and wetlands accommodating park users should go hand in hand 
with sustainability, not at the cost of it.

18. It is not an abandoned railroad line – the trail is birded, hiked, 
run on, cycled on, used by school teachers as an important educational 
tool for kids. The rail bed allows for proper drainage because of the 
way it is constructed (trains had to run in all seasons, including wet 
ones) and it allows access to unique natural areas of the city we 
should be protecting.

Here is a letter template:

Dear Official,

I am writing to express my opposition to the NYC Parks Department plan 
to pave a 10 ft wide asphalt path along the 1.5 mile Putnam Trail in 
Van Cortlandt Park. I am offering my support for keeping the trail at 
its current 8ft width and to be improved with a stone dust surface 
instead of asphalt. A stone dust surface would continue to effectively 
serve all user groups of the Putnam Trail including cyclists, walkers, 
runners, baby strollers, wheelchairs and more.

The same type of federal funding has been used to construct similar 
stone dust trails elsewhere in NY State such as the Erie Canal Trail 
and a portion of the Bronx River Trail. Keeping the trail at its 
current width of 8 ft will dramatically reduce future maintenance costs 
and lower construction costs. I understand the average asphalt path 
costs twice as much as the average stone-dust path to construct.

Please note that the Putnam Trail runs through wildlife preserves and 
wetlands that the state and city are charged with protecting for 
current and future generations.


Respectfully yours,


Save taxpayer money, Save the environment, Save the Putnam Trail!

Save the Putnam Trail Campaign

"The Putnam Trail is a jewel. It's a mindless, destructive and wasteful 
act to pave the Putnam Trail. To spend 100s of thousands of dollars or 
more to pave over this treasured parkland seems to be the antithesis of 
what a Parks Dept. should be doing." --Eric Seiff, Chairman of the 
Board-Friends of Van Cortlandt Park,

Point friends to the petition at Save the Putnam Nature Trail,