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May 30, 2001

Contact: Gary Lovett (IES 845/677-5343)
Geoff Ryan (NYC DEP 718/595-6600

City Land Acquisition Pays Off For Forest Research

Forest ecologists are finding benefits from New York City recent land acquisitions in upstate watersheds. Information about the trees on these protected water supply lands is adding to a growing body of knowledge about Catskill forests.

"Our research suggests that watersheds with lots of oak and beech trees are releasing less nitrate into streams than areas with maple and birch," says Gary M. Lovett, Ph.D., a leading ecologist at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook. "New York City's Foresters have been helping us figure out how the forest differs from place to place. This will help us better understand ecological processes at a landscape scale in the Catskills and beyond. "

The Institute of Ecosystem Studies (IES) has been working for several years on a project to map the vegetation in the Catskill Mountains. This has never before been done in a way that would allow for an analysis of species composition. The project, funded by the U.S. Forest Service, combines on-the-ground tree measurements with information from satellite images to create a graphic representation of the various forest types. Satellite pictures taken throughout the course of the season are carefully examined to classify tree areas into different types. These areas are then field checked for accuracy.

"We are very pleased that our lands have been helpful with this important forest research," said Commissioner Joel A. Miele, Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). "Our DEP Foresters have contributed a significant amount of forest inventory information from many of the larger parcels acquired by the City under its Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program. This information about the

location and density of different tree species will be registered with the IES satellite images to improve the accuracy of their final map. Encouraging scientific research of this kind is one of our goals for City-owned lands in the watershed.

Under provisions of the 1997 Watershed Memorandum of Agreement, New York City is acquiring watershed lands that are important for the protection of drinking water quality. The program involves purchase of lands or conservation easements at fair market value from willing sellers only. The City pays assessed property taxes once lands are acquired. Lands acquired are protected for water quality purposes, with many parcels opened up for public access and recreational use. To date over 400 landowners have chosen to work with the City to protect over 30,000 acres.

Information about the City's Land Acquisition and Conservation Easement programs is available by calling 1-800-575-5263 or by visiting Information about IES is available at


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600