The Cattails Last Stand

Dated: 01/12/2014

Views: 3617

    There's an interesting argument going on now in certain conservation circles in the Piermont-Sparkill-Tappan area concerning, of all things, swamp plants.  Namely, the recently arrived phragmites and the long-established but now endangered cattails.  The phragmites have essentially crowded out the native cattails, and in doing so, have altered the habitat of the native animals and birds.  With the construction of the new Tappan Zee bridge, part of the "give back" to the community has been a proposal to eradicate the phragmites in part of the Hudson River salt marsh, and reestablish the cattails.  Some applaud the idea, while others see it a a well-meant but ultimately futile effort.  While I have no dog in this fight, I tend to agree with the latter group.  The phragmites have become so incredibly widespread that it seems that they must overwhelm the cattails no matter what steps are taken.  On the other hand, it has been shown that cattails, once reintroduced, can hold their own, so who can say?  I guess nature will decide.  This morning, I was on the trail between Tappan and Sparkill, and saw this last group of cattails among a sea of phragmites,and it reminded me of Custer at Little Big Horn, and we all know how that ended.
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Thano Schoppel

I have been a resident of Tappan for forty years, and still live in the 1860 Italianate Victorian house my wife Jean and I bought all those years ago. I have always been active in the community, inclu....

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