Trailside Museums and Zoo and the Natural Resource Management Program lead scientific research and conservation stewardship of the NYS Parks and Historic Sites in the Palisades Region. Programs include research and restoration of habitats of threatened species, annual wildlife counts and inventories and collaborations with Parks in the region and with organizations and research institutions. Ongoing conservation research and ecological systems management strive to protect and sustain the ecological communities in the Palisades region. Conservation scientists and stewardship specialists collaborate with park management to balance welcoming the public for recreation and exploration while protecting the environment.
Transformative Gardening at Trailside
Trailside Museums and Zoo has been transforming its mostly unmanaged landscape since 2008. The oak-hickory forest’s understory had expansive colonies of non-native invasive shrubs that displaced native flora. Heavy deer browsing also reduced floral diversity. Fencing for deer exclusion and use of deer repellent sprays have reduced deer damage. Ongoing removal of invasives enables us to study the terrain, hydrology, sunlight and existing native plants. We follow with a plant community approach to gardening and landscape design and plant selection. By creating gardens and landscapes as plant communities, we increase native floral biodiversity and support diverse fauna. We showcase the beauty and potentials of native plants for beautiful gardens in home landscapes—a few pots on apartment balcony, a suburban yard or in the countryside.
Iona Marsh Restoration
Iona Marsh on the Hudson River was a biodiverse brackish landscape of salt-dependent plants and wildlife. Its degradation began in the 1960s with colonization by non-native Phragmites autralis (Common Reed). By 2000, Phragmites had displaced native vegetation and wildlife. Restoration and stewardship began on 10 acres in 2008. Phragmites was removed to learn if native plants would re-establish and bring back marsh-dependent wildlife. It worked. Since 2013, restoration and stewardship has expanded to clear more Phragmites. Plant and wildlife surveys show that the marsh is increasingly biodiverse. Learn more
Habitat Restoration for Declining Species
Wildlife populations in Harriman and Sterling State Parks are imperiled due to habitat degradation. The focal species include Wood Turtle, Eastern Box Turtle and Golden-winged Warbler, species of special concern in New York. Ongoing research enables us to understand factors contributing to their decline. It guides management strategies for improving habitat, including removing invasive plants and promoting young forests, and for population replenishment of these key members of the ecosystem. Improving habitat contributes to enhancing the entire ecosystem and improving resiliency in the changing climate. Learn more
Trailside Museums and Zoo has a long tradition of citizen science. Each year, professional scientists and naturalists collaborate to observe, monitor and document the wildlife species. Biannually, bird and wildlife surveys are conducted in winter and summer. Each winter, Bald Eagle Night Roosts are surveyed, and in fall, hawks and other raptors are counted on their winter migration. Learn more
By 2000, the biodiverse brackish tidal marshes of Iona Island were overrun by the invasive, non-native common reed, Phragmites australis. Restoration began in 2008 with the...
Protecting and restoring imperiled habitat is a critical component of combatting the decline of wildlife populations. With this notable importance in mind, research staff have been hard at work to protect native species that are suffering from habitat loss.
A significant part of Trailside Museums and Zoo’s mission is encouraging the formation of partnerships between professional scientists and naturalist volunteers through citizen science opportunities.