County officials pleased by successful Boyce Park meadow
A little over a year ago, Indian Hill at Boyce Park looked like a recovering burn site.
At the time, as grasses and wildflower seeds settled in after being sowed, officials said it likely would be a few years before the area transformed into a beautiful meadow. So when Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and members of his staff gathered July 10, at the toe of the hill to check on its progress, they were in awe of what they saw.
“I’m surprised at how well it’s done,” said Caren Glotfelty, executive director of the Allegheny County Parks Foundation. “I didn’t expect the drama of it.”
The 6-acre hillside known as Indian Hill at Boyce Park in Plum is in full bloom. Swaths of green paths meander through a yellow ocean of black-eyed Susans. The native plant belonging to the sunflower family represents only 2 percent of the over 20 species planted in 2017 as part of the foundation’s $9,000 Indian Hill Meadow at Boyce Park project.
The foundation secured two other grants to create meadows at Hartwood Acres Park and South Park. The meadow at Hartwood Acres will be sowed this summer; the South Park meadow will happen in 2019, said Glotfelty.
Closer inspection of the meadow at Boyce Park reveals some of the other species planted, such as purple coneflower and Virginia wildrye. It will take anywhere from two to five years for the other wildflowers and grasses to mature, said Glotfelty.
“The first couple of years takes more maintenance. And actually, we’ll need to mow this soon,” she said. “I know people won’t like that.”
Glotfelty said mowing down the meadow helps lower-growing plants to get the sunlight needed in order to reach maturity.
For the time being, park-goers marveled at the colorful hillside.
“This hill is like a magnet,” said Fitzgerald. “You drive around the corner and go, ‘oh, what’s that?’ And you want to walk through it … it’s like driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel.”
But there’s more to the meadow than looks, Glotfelty said.
“We’re trying to figure out how to quantify how much stormwater runoff we’re saving, the fuel saved from mowers, how many habitats this creates,” she said.
The foundation, which partners with the county to complete projects in the nine major parks in Allegheny County, teamed up with Western Pennsylvania Conservancy last year to perform an ecological assessment of Boyce Park. The assessment found 27 acres there that could someday be turned into meadows.
Because of the success at Indian Hill, Glotfelty said the two organizations hope to complete ecological assessments of all nine parks.
“Meadows are a good, sustainable solution to hillsides that are remote or too steep to maintain well,” she said.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.