‘Alien Plants’ Cleaning Up Liberty State Park - My9 New Jersey

‘Alien Plants’ Cleaning Up Liberty State Park

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Jersey City, New Jersey (My9NJ) - Under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty there are actually alien species that are working to clean up the park by detoxifying the soil that just a few years ago people couldn’t go anywhere near. These ‘alien plants’ are vegetation that are not native to New Jersey and are brought in from other places because they help suck up toxins and store them in ways that are not harmful to animals or humans.

Rutgers Professor Frank Gallagher and some of his students are using a combination of landscaping and ecology to remediate what used to be a wasteland of toxic dumping at Liberty State Park.

“The measures that we took here brought the contamination to levels where we cannot find any translocation of the contaminants into any part of the food chain,” Professor Gallagher explained.

He has been remediating this land for over 20 years and he says that this area holds a special place in his heart.

“I grew up here, I lived right on the line between Bayonne and Jersey City and so I knew the park before it was a park, as a railroad, back as kids we used to come down here and go through the old rail cars,” Gallagher shared.

60 years ago Liberty State Park was an industrial dump and railcar graveyard for Central Railroad of New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The trains and nearby industry dumped coal and toxic metals everywhere, and the industrial activity transformed the Jersey City site into an ugly backdrop for the Statue of Liberty

Not only do the plants appear to keep contaminant metals in the soil from moving about, they stay in the soil and out of the plants’ leaves so they are not ingested by birds or other animals.

In some places alien plants may be unwelcome, but in Liberty State Park, they may have a new model for ecosystem landscaping that works and is friendly to the environment and New Jerseyan’s pockets!


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