Plant Diversity

The soils of the Irondequoit Valley are fertile, high-lime soils.  These soils have created conditions for a spectacular diversity of plants in RRMSEA.  This is particular noteworthy as many of these plants are growing on, or beside, a raised, man-made railroad bed.  The trail, however, has been free of train traffic for over fifty years, and an incredible diversity of plants has developed.

Our prelimimary surveys have documented over 300 plant species growing along the short 3000’ corridor of RRMSEA, and over 70% are native species.  These include over 70 species of trees, shrubs, and woody vines - the great majority of which are native. Uncommon ones include American hazlenut (photo left top) and  prickly ash (photo right).  The latter is host for the rare giant swallowtail butterfly, which has also been seen in recent years on the trail. The high concentration of fruiting trees, shrubs, and vines attract birds and provide sustenance for them on their migratory journeys.

For wildflower lovers the trail is a bonanza, and is a panoply of colorful flowers from spring into fall.
  These include an uncommon prairie grass, great variety of goldenrod and asters, and other locally uncommon plants like wild coffee,  great lobelia, and turtlehead.  Turtlehead (photo left center) is a caterpillar plant for the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly.  In fact many of the more than 200 documented herbaceous species are nectar or caterpillar plants for the rich butterfly population.

 The Irondequoit Creek Valley is recognized on a state level as home to several plant species that are listed as threatened and endangered in New York. A 1975 study done for the Town of Victor recognized this part of RRMSEA as a unique, and noteworthy botanical area in the town. Nevertheless, the consultant and other proponents of the proposed widening have stated that the area has mainly invasive species.  It is an egregious misrepresentation of what is there.  

One state threatened species, twinleaf (photo lower left),  has been documented by the Coalition as growing in RRMSEA. Two additional NYS threatened plant species were documented in the summer of 2008 as growing along the trail corridor.   It is extraordinary to have three state threatened species growing along a 3000' segment of an old rail bed.  There are other rare species known from the region, which could yet be found along the trail corridor, as the habitat is right.   The proposed project has the potential to cause significant environmental impact. 

NYFA Article

Winter 2009  NY Flora Association article hi-lighting rich botanical diversity of this trail. 
The Town of Victor has not done due diligence in this area.  A complete environmental survey, with a  field survey of all the plants through the entire growing season,  needs to be done along the entire trailcorridor.  It is critical that trail construction, maintenance, and use does not impact any threatened or endangered species.

 Photos © Steven Daniel

Subpages (1): plants