Multi-group effort led by Friends of Riverview Park is trying to find the best alternative to curb rising worm and deer populations
By: NSC Staff
Riverview Park is having some ecological issues. A tour led by Friends of Riverview Park last month highlighted how an influx of invasive animal and plant species has left large portions of the park with deficient stormwater drainage systems along with barren underbrush.
This dual-front problem has the park’s long-term future in jeopardy.
As mentioned in an article last month by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist, Brian O’Neill the main goal is to handle stormwater removal which is directly correlated to the Crazy Snake Worm infestation.
The issue lies with how the worms and the increasing deer populations destroy the underbrush; effectively they terrorize the park’s natural ecosystem.
To put it bluntly, the worms eat deer waste, the deer eat tons of vegetation (approximately 5 to 10 pounds a day according to the State Game Commission). Currently, there are nearly 50 deer within Riverview Park, a 259-acre area that should only be able to support 10. More deer, more worm problems. As deer continue to eat portions of the park bare, the worm problem manifests.
The result means large portions of the park are being devastated by natural decay. This means eroded pathways, exposed roots, fallen trees all of which harms the stormwater removal system. Heavy rains result in greater chances for trees and shrubs with exposed roots due to aggressive eating habits of the deer and worms, causes greater chances for eroded pathways, poor stormwater drainage which then results in a greater demand for the city to manage storm water.
Each component affects the next. Heavy rains will come and go, but if a portion of the problem can be halted or at least managed – i.e. the deer – then proactive steps can be taken to ensure the rejuvenation of problem areas in the park.
Currently, the park resides in the O-27 Woods Run sewershed. A joint effort between the Friends of Riverview Park, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, ALCOSAN, eDesign Dynamics and Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc. called the Woods Run Watershed Green Infrastructure Project is currently underway to find the best solution at water removal in the park.
The top concern is stormwater drainage, but that starts with managing the park’s current ecosystem.
**Note the Woods Run Watershed Green Infrastructure Project is still a working plan and project, more news will be available as the project moves forward