Written by Christina Verderosa
The Mariners Museum Park in Newport News has been working to restore the park to its original ecosystem, removing invasive trees and plants and bringing back the native Virginia trees that once grew there in abundance. With funds provided by grants from Virginia Trees for Clean Water, park staff, and representatives of the Department of Forestry, along with dozens of volunteers have been planting hundreds of native trees.
The most recent planting took place November 17 and 18. Volunteers from Newport News and Hampton Master Gardeners, Peninsula Tree Stewards, Master Naturalists and others gathered to plant over 750 native trees. The plant list included shortleaf pine, pin oak, musclewood, American persimmon, live oak, witch hazel and longleaf pine.
This planting is the second one this year. The spring planting consisted of about 700 short leaf pines. This time native hardwoods were added in. This presented an additional problem, however, since the tree seedlings are in danger from deer browsing. The tree planters enclosed the trees most prone to browsing in plastic tubes. These will stay on the trees for three to four years until the trees grow past the tops of the tubes and can better withstand deer snacking on them.
Reintroducing native trees will benefit the park in a number of ways, including helping to support native wildlife. The red cockaded woodpecker is just one species which could make a comeback with the restoration of native pines.
The 550 acre Mariners Museum Park is the one of the nation’s largest privately owned parks. The newly planted trees are located in area just back from Boundary Road.