Earlier this month, Fairmount Park Conservancy joined Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and Friends of FDR Park to announce the start of the Philadelphia International Airport’s 33 acre native wetland project, which also marks the first of 12 projects for the Nature Phase of the FDR Park Plan.
The Nature Phase reflects an expansion of the overall Ecological Core to 60% (209 acres) of the park’s 348 acres and dedicates them to natural areas such as woodlands, meadows, trails, wetlands, and water. The Nature Phase focuses on 100 acres of the 209-acre Ecological Core and represents a $45 million investment in sustainable, high-quality natural habitat in the western half of the park, including:
- 33 acres of the FDR Park’s southwest border transformed into tidal wetland
- Restoration of Shedbrook Creek stream and riparian buffers
- 23 acres of Sedge Meadow with boardwalks and overlooks
- Kayak and canoe launch
- Wildflower Hill
- Nature Playground
- Treehouse Woods –
- High-quality forest in FDR
- Canopy structure for explorations
- 5 miles of soft surface trail network with signage
- Plant nursery and land care facility
- Trailhead comfort station
- Meadow and forest restoration
What were some of the driving factors behind the update to the FDR Park Plan and expansion of the Ecological Core?
- First Tee, the former golf concessionaire at FDR Park, left the site to make other investments in the City, dissolving the necessity for golf amenities within the park.
- Bellaire Manor is eligible to be listed on the historic register, which requires a more significant landscaping buffer.
- A 2021 site audit conducted by ecologists and biologists provided more clearly identified existing and potential high-quality habitat areas of the 348-acre park.
“This gives us an opportunity to move parts of the plan around so that we can minimize conflict and maximize areas of potential habitat creation,” explains Maura McCarthy, Fairmount Park Conservancy’s Executive Director.
The balance of nature with recreation is fundamental to the future of FDR Park and the many constituencies it serves. This update and rearrangement allows the Park Plan to keep the much-needed athletic sites in the Plan, including 12 multi-purpose fields, 10 tennis courts, 6 baseball and softball fields, and 8 basketball courts, while expanding the acreage of natural areas in the park, which have become increasingly treasured and appreciated since COVID.
The Nature Phase implementation begins this month and will likely continue until 2026. To learn more about the FDR Park Plan, click here.
Funders for the Nature Phase include the City of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia International Airport, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, PA-DEP Coastal Zone Management, and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.