Human impact on the park has continued since the Revolution. Although the land did not become a park until 1925, actions to make it one began in 1903 and many owners abandoned maintaining their estates and no information on the vegetation was preserved. The creation of the Harlem Ship Canal destroyed one marsh; debris from subway excavations filled another to create baseball fields in 1938. Later, another marsh became soccer fields.
The Henry Hudson Parkway, which runs though Inwood Hill Park required the felling of many old oak and poplar trees including a 160-year-old tulip poplar in 1935. The New York City Parks Department regularly cleared the underbrush and replanted trees and shrubs beginning in 1925 and ending in the 1960s when budget cuts caused the Parks department to abandon vegetation maintenance. All this human activity changed the face of the park.
Some native species went extinct, while non-native species thrived. Continual cutting of the under layers of the forest caused those plants to die off. Human disturbance killed established plants and soil compaction caused rainwater runoff, eroding the soils. Since the late 1980s, Parks Department workers planted thousands of native trees and shrubs, but many do not survive.
"Today's plantings for the ecological restoration of Inwood Park are similar to private estate plantings done following the American Revolution period which have been decimated by subsequent use and management of the land," says Loeb.
Grants supported plantings, erosion control and other efforts in Inwood Hill Park. These programs do not include funding for maintenance to assure the survival of plantings. Areas where insufficient watering occurs or where herbicides are used to reduce invasive plants become colonized by invasive species.
Currently, "the forest and wetland communities of Inwood Hill Park are more diverse and have a greater structur
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