On May 18th, a small group of volunteers gathered at Larchmont’s Kane Park to kick off this year’s ecological restoration. The project, with the aid of the Larchmont Rotary Club’s sponsorship, will transform one section of the park’s sod grass lawn into a thriving ecosystem containing a diversity of native plants, grasses and shrubs which will support an abundance of bird and pollinator species and store carbon from the atmosphere. The restoration has involved several dozen volunteers from the community helping to re-introduce plant species that are known to have grown in the area for millennia.
Club Treasurer Marion Anderson and Club President Lester Nathan presented a check for $1000 to project leader Luke Brussel to fund the project. “We are thrilled to have the support of the Rotary, the Village of Larchmont and so many residents from the community to transform such a visible public space into a place where everyone can come and experience the beauty and real wonder of a living, changing and growing landscape as existed before modern development paved and mowed under so much of our environment,” said Luke, a long-time resident and project leader.
May 18th was also Rotary International’s annual Day of Service, during which Rotarians from around the world participated in various public service projects. Other Rotarians who worked in the park included: Alex Vo, Michael Gedigk, Marian White and Hugh-Maynard Reid.  To view more pictures of the Kane Park restoration area, visit the club’s website at: larchmontrotary.org/PhotoAlbums/kane-park-restoration.
The ecological restoration involves dozens of volunteers from the community re-introducing plant species that are known to have grown in the area for millennia, forming the basis for a complex web of interdependent relationships between plant, animal, insect and human and other species that thrived here before European settlement introduced non-native species, and the large-scale farming and industrialization that followed. “When everything we plant and grow in parks and our gardens are the same imported species from Europe, Asia and Africa that are found in garden centers, nurseries and ubiquitous catalogs now, every place, whether gas stations, lawns or parks, have the same plants and look the same as gas stations, lawns and parks whether you’re in New York, Illinois, Washington D.C. or Missouri.  By creating a space with the amazingly beautiful species native to this specific place, to the Sound Shore, we all get to experience the unique, and exquisite nature of where we live, with all of its interdependent relationships and changes over all four seasons and time."
The practice of native plant restoration has grown in recent years out of concern for the nearly total loss of many types of ecosystems across the United States, globally and here in New York State. For example, only a small fragment of the coastal grasslands that were abundant across the Long Island Sound area for centuries still exist today; and across the United States, only 0.1% of prairies, which covered the entire center of the country from the eastern forests to the Rocky Mountains, still exist; 99.9% were plowed under, turned to lawn, paved and/or built over. Additionally, ecological restorations seek to play an important role in slowing and reversing global climate change. Native North American grass and plant species are known to have root systems which run yards deep into the earth, while imported lawn grass, which covers much of our open space in Larchmont, only grows down an inch or so. The deep roots of native species draw in carbon from the atmosphere and bury it yards below the surface where it does not act to increase atmospheric warming.
The ecological restoration of Kane Park is expected to be largely completed this year.