Perennials, shrubs and trees have been planted next to the Cross River in the Kimberly Bridge Picnic Area of Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River. This riparian buffer will serve as a model for residents, municipalities and businesses to emulate along watercourses, wetlands and water bodies throughout Westchester County as interpretive signs have been installed for educational purposes.

The plants along the riparian buffer help stabilize the soil along the river’s banks and lessen the chance of scouring and erosion, improve water quality through biological and chemical processes, and provide shelter, shade, and food fish and wildlife that are dependent on streamside environments.

All plants used in this project at native to eastern United States and include pin oak, eastern redbud and sweetbay magnolia trees; red-twig dogwood, sweetpepper bush, buttonbush and northern bayberry shrubs and New York ironweed, swamp milkweed, tussock sedge and blue flag iris perennials.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “This riparian buffer positions Westchester County as a leader in the conservation space as it has a dual purpose of conserving county parkland and serves as an educational piece for residents and municipalities to further keep Westchester County land healthy and thriving.”

Westchester County Department of Planning Commissioner Norma Drummond said: “Improving streamside environments to improve water quality and habitat has been a key outgrowth of the county’s watershed management planning. We’re pleased that we’re able to complete another model for this type of practice as a guide for county residents and businesses.”

Westchester County Department of Parks Commissioner Kathy O’Connor said: “Westchester County is home to more than 18,000 acres of naturally essential parkland. By installing this riparian buffer we are keeping that land usable to residents while teaching about its importance to the natural world.”

The project was funded by the Westchester County Soil and Water Conservation District with financial assistance from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Soil and Water Conservation Committee. Staffs of the county departments of Parks, Recreation and Conservation and Planning installed the buffer.