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City of Philadelphia

Natural Lands Restoration Master Plans

The Fairmount Park Commission and NLREEP selected the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP) in August 1997 to formulate restoration plans for vegetation and stream channels in the natural lands of seven areas of the Fairmount Park system.
During Plan Development
The park held over 20 public meetings to interact with stakeholders and provide a support base for restoration. At these meetings, the project team described a park's environmental health and reviewed lists of recommended restoration sites and next actions. The meetings included question and answer sessions that enabled attendees to learn more about their park's ecosystems and to give feedback to the project team.

Community Involvement
Park staff initiated "community mapping" in which residents in neighborhoods adjacent to the parks helped the project team better understand their park's current and historical uses. Community mapping began with walks through each park. Participants noted how the park was affected by such things as trash, graffiti and invasive vegetation.
Positive uses such as picnicking, sledding and fishing were also recorded. Specific results were given to the ANSP and helped in selecting potential restoration sites and activities. A general overview of park uses, as determined by the mapping exercises, was shared with community members at the public meetings.

Fairmount Park Natural Lands Restoration Master Plan
The plan, completed in 2001 is the result of the inventory, assessment and community mapping resulted. The three volume Master Plan contains recommended restoration activities for 452 high-priority sites in the seven watershed and estuary parks.
The Natural Lands Restoration Master Plan is available at the Free Library of Philadelphia main branch on Logan Square in the Government Records section under Cities: P53 1844: R313. A copy is also available for public viewing at the offices of the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.
The park is committed to implementing the Master Plan recommendations through the use of park staff, contractors and volunteers. The work is on-going and represents one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States.Planning for the project began in August 1997 and continued through the spring of 1999.
Tasks included development of restoration goals, compilation of existing information on park conditions, compilation of biological specimen data from the park system in the ANSP collections, generation of field survey protocols, implementation of field surveys, development of a database for historical and assessment information, development of a geographical information system (GIS) and production of maps.
Historical and current conditions were compared to determine trends. The assessment information was used to define potential restoration activities at sites within the park system. These activities were prioritized to form the restoration recommendations.
Throughout this process, the team interacted with the FPC staff, park users, scientists, engineers, ecologists, landscape architects and representatives of state agencies who have knowledge of the park system, so that the plans incorporate the viewpoints of the full community of stakeholders.
While the primary goal of this process has been the development of recommendations for restoration to be done as part of the 5-year NLREEP program, it is anticipated that this plan will provide the basis for ongoing restoration and maintenance activities in the natural lands of the park system.


  • Controlling and removing exotic invasive plants and replacing them with species native to Philadelphia County
  • Increasing the density and diversity of native plants in riparian zones, forests and other areas
  • Converting mown lawn to meadows where the lawn is not currently used for active recreation
  • Managing meadows, including periodic mowing to control tree growth
  • Constructing new and restoring/expanding existing wetlands
  • Removing or modifying existing dams
  • Restoring eroded/degraded stream channels and stabilizing streambanks using bioengineering techniques
  • Repairing and stabilizing erosion gullies on forested slopes
  • Constructing berms, diversions, grassed waterways, infiltration trenches and filter strips to control stormflow from impervious services and mown areas
  • Controlling access to reduce trash dumping and damage by vehicles