Welcome to The Putnam Trail!
Protect the nature in the Putnam Nature Trail
The Trail runs beside state-protected wetlands and city-protected Forever Wild preserves, for long stretches of its short 1.5 mile length. Van Cortlandt Park’s wetlands are YO-1 classed wetlands — the highest classification, which means they are supposed to receive the highest protection. These areas protected by DEC are: Tibbetts Brook, the marshes, the lake and pond. At one time there were 224,000 acres of freshwater wetlands, and that figure is now down to 2,000 acres. Are we diminishing them more? Asphalt promotes flooding and heat and erosion, conveys contaminants into the surrounding environment and waterways, and allows fast biking that will scare wildlife away.
One longtime birder of the region noted: “Although the diversity of birds in both parks is similar during migration, the similarity ends with breeding season. The Van Cortlandt marsh alone holds more breeding species than all of Central Park. Central Park’s landscaped trails, sculpted lawns and colorful plantings as a nesting choice for birds, I would safely say, is not attractive.”
There are other problems involved with the current design, including the number and manner in which trees and foliage will be removed.
Compacted earthen trails are least harmful and deserving of serious consideration. Limestone stone-dust is next because even when it breaks down, “it breaks down into relatively harmless stuff that’s already in mineral soil,” noted one engineer. Both of these surfaces are ADA-compliant and bike-usable and allowable by NYSDOT. Ask our officials to stand up for nature, and for the laws and protections that are already on the books to help us protect it.
Photos below were taken by various participants of a Shorewalker Walk along the Putnam Trail in October 2013.
Activist and gardener Rita Freed appeared on “Decent Life” hosted by Lou Puliafito (MNN) November 7. The recorded half-hour interview can be seen here. Freed is a thoughtful – and thought-provoking – thinker able to explore what besets us today with surprising depth.
The short documentary “Save the Putnam Nature Trail,” was honored as a festival selection at the 3rd Annual International Film Festival Manhattan on Oct. 20. The producers had a lively conversation with festival director Luis Pedron after the showing here.
The executive producer was also a guest on the live cable TV show “Decent Life” hosted by Lou Puliafito 10/24. The taped show is here.
Donate to our new fund to buy t-shirts and pay for other activities that will help raise visibility for this important cause. Click here.
Cyclists at the DEC hearing said “share the trail.” We agree, let’s share the trail — with birdwatchers, strollers, students studying nature, the elderly, low-income people, dogwalkers, hikers, parents with children, community cyclists. Paving the trail benefits only a sliver of the cycling community at the expense of everyone else and nature.
The Putnam Trail is a jewel, a treasure of nature in New York City.
The NYC Parks Department is planning major changes to the trail:
- Increase the width from 8 ft. to 15 ft.
- Destroy and remove up to 4 acres of trees and natural brush
- Pave 10 ft. of this new width with asphalt (or 2 acres of asphalt)
1. Saves taxpayers MONEY!
2. Preserves the environment!
3. Serves ALL users well!!
This website outlines the local community’s efforts to improve the historic nature trail for all users.
Watch Sarah Baglio on “BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank”
Sarah Baglio makes the community case for keeping the trail as natural as possible. The talk show hosted by Gary Axelbank aired live at 9 pm Monday, June 17. The other guest on the show was Rich Gans of Transportation Alternatives. Click to watch online.
And VIP supporters …
“The Putnam Trail is one of the open space glories of the New York Metropolitan region. We have spent many wonderful hours walking it in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Westchester. To deface and desecrate it with concrete would be an environmental disaster. The more natural a trail the better.”
–Cy A. Adler, President, Shorewalkers Inc., www.shorewalkers.org
“I have been to Van Cortlandt Park as a runner and spectator over many years and feel strongly that the Putnam Trail should not be paved over. It will not benefit the users of the Park and this money can be used in countless meaningful ways.”
–George Hirsch, Chairman of the Board, New York Road Runners, www.nyrr.org
“The Putnam Trail is a jewel. It’s a mindless, destructive and wasteful act to pave the Putnam Trail. To spend hundreds 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, www.vancortlandt.org
“As a cyclist, I originally thought it would be a good idea to pave the trail and have gravel on the sides of the pavement for the runners, so all could have an equal share; however, with the understanding that trees would be cut down [widening of the trail], that goes against my values as an environmentalist and a former teacher of environmental science. I am all for in favor for leaving it is as it is now in the wild. I don’t want to cut down any trees at all if it’s avoidable.”
–Denis Burns, Secretary of the USI Cycling Club; Past President and current Board member of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park
“Paving the trail greatly increases injuries–runners, walkers, and even dogs all thrive when they exercise on natural dirt surfaces. In any case, we desperately need to preserve our natural surroundings in an over-populated world.”
–Kathrine Switzer, notable author, television commentator, marathon runner; first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a number, leading to women being able to run in officially-sanctioned marathons across the world
“The race walkers of the Greater New York strongly oppose any paving of the Putnam Trail and would like to see funds go towards more free programs in the park, therefore helping to improve the quality of life in the Bronx.”
–Lon Wilson, President, New York Walkers Club/ Parks Greeter, www.nywalkersclub.org
“Having run for over 55 years and run around the world I realized that only those communities that set aside trail space will have a lasting legacy for future generations. A community with trails is a richer community in health, fitness, beauty of nature and direct connection to our ancient roots.”
–Jeff Galloway, U.S. Olympian, www.RunInjuryFree.com
to 15-16 ft. and paving 10 ft of its new width with asphalt. The trail is 7 ft wide in this photo. Widening is an environmental no-no, ecologists say, because it causes “fragmentation of green space,” where seeds/pollen of unwanted species get drawn into an area because of the loss of the tree canopy. Roots churned up during construction can cause the tree to die years later. The removal of groundcover (shrubs, weeds, grasses) will leave the landscape barren with hampered ability to soak up excess rainwater. This leads to erosion and shifting water levels in the wetlands where animals breed and nest.
Take a 2-minute ride as a cyclist on the Putnam Trail:
This is a map of the best park in NYC — a true wonderland!!
If you wish to explore the Putnam Trail and many of the other great features of Van Cortlandt Park, check out Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, and the Nature Center run by City Parks. FVCP helps maintain the park, run nature programs, and fix trails. Their donation page. The VCP Conservancy also runs many programs which are a great way to get acquainted with an amazing park. Their calendar of events is here.
The Nature Center is located behind the historical mansion. The Center is manned by well-informed friendly Rangers. It has educational exhibits and maintains a list of wildlife observed by recent park-goers.
Sign up for hikes run by Rangers, and Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, and by the Nature Group.
Refuel at the Golf House Restaurant which will re-open in August after renovations. Check out eateries across the street, on Broadway, and always stop by the Bronx Ale House, to top off the day with a hearty ale and pub menu.
You may be interested in following the Putnam Trail Chronicle by a local artist and naturalist. The site contains photos, videos, updates, insights for those interested in preserving natural areas in the city.
The purpose of this campaign …
The purpose of this campaign is to get the Putnam Trail resurfaced with stone dust instead of paved asphalt and to reduce the proposed width from 15ft to 8ft.
NYC Parks Department plans to double the current width of the Putnam Trail from 8ft to 15ft! The average lane on an interstate highway is 12ft.
This will require the destruction of many trees and will have a detrimental effect on the wildlife, the natural environment and the beauty of the Park. A stone dust surface will serve all the users including cyclists, walkers, runners, baby strollers, wheelchairs and more.
Park trails are meant to be user-friendly and accommodate all methods of use. We feel that the 8ft wide stone dust trail best meets the needs of all users while having minimal impact on the environment and lowest cost.
We ask you to support the Save the Putnam Trail campaign and ensure that the Putnam Trail stays 8ft wide and is improved with a stone dust surface.
If we stay silent on this issue one of the jewels of the Bronx and NYC will be lost forever!
Please don’t let the Putnam Trail become “Putnam Boulevard”!
OUR PLAN – 8 ft. stone-dust trail because it:
1. saves taxpayers MONEY!
2. preserves the environment!
3. still serves ALL users well!!