Managing A Vista: Plants Can’t Always Have Their Own Way

Hi Everyone! So, this week has been spent playing a bit of catch-up on work, after all of the excitement and fun had in Acadia last week, I was a wee-bit behind on documentation for BOHA, and productivity for a mini-side project for Acadia. Sasha, Shanasia, Kristi and I reunited and were able to attend a Branching-Out Teach-Back at Fairsted, which was an impressive show of work they completed in shrub and perennial planting at the Historic Site!

After the trip home to Acadia, I had “vistas” on the mind. It has been quite interesting to see how viewsheds are part of park design and management, and the ways in which the team here at the Olmsted Center utilize graphic and historic knowledge to better inform parks on their management and/or implementation. To me, they serve many purposes from clearing areas that historically were vast, and open, to selective clearing for views of key elements along a route, such as a mountain, building, or historic area. They are all part of an experience. In Acadia, for example, planned view sheds were incorporated into the motor road network, and were points at which vegetation was to be kept managed in fashions that allow for maximum views of key areas. In BOHA, much of the landscape was historically open, subject to the elements, and views were managed for military and navigational purposes.This week, I have had the opportunity to work with two different concepts that look at vista and vegetation management. The first was a little side-project that Eliot (easily-he didn’t need to twist my arm on it) hooked me onto back home for Acadia.

Historic drawing of Long Island Light House is a good example of a view for navigational purposes that is now lost.

Historic drawing of Long Island Lighthouse is a good example of a view for navigational purposes that is now lost.


Present Day View of Long Island lighthouse–obscured by vegetation it is difficult to navigate–a little more time, and the light may not be visible!

Acadia: Vista 57

In Acadia, 71 vistas were meticulously mapped out along points of the motor roads at areas where the visitor experience is enlightened by key views of islands, harbors, and coastlines. The task with Vista #57 was to use it as a model for the park to visualize how the cutting of trees can be adaptable for “framing” a view. It is somewhat common to cut growth and not fully capture a cradled view, and in the case of vista #57, that was somewhat the case! Eliot tasked me with coming up with a way to graphically represent how trees can form transitional zones between the heavily managed view shed of shorter growth, to existing taller trees, to taller, less managed tracks of growth.

A sequence of thought process on how to graphically represent view shed management.

A sequence of thought process on how to graphically represent view shed management. Trees in green represent a buffer or transitional zone of growth between lower vegetation, and existing tracks of forest growth surrounding the vista boundary.

Vista Concpet

Long Island Light

On Wednesday, Margie and I traveled to Long Island, to document features of its landscape for the BOHA report. The island has a deep rooted public history, and as I said, has a lighthouse, which is listed on the National Register. It was interesting to see the change over time here, and I couldn’t help but think to myself how noble lighthouses truly are. They are build to withstand tough elements, and provide a service that has been trusted for centuries. Their structures are vast, and often unique to their regional context, but so are their landscapes. It was clear to see that Long Island’s light house was obscure by vegetation from the water, which eventually may dim its light.  This led me to thinking about structures listed on the National Register, and how it might be important to note that the landscape and vegetation of a lighthouse site may be just as important to its mission than the light within it it! If the vegetation is left to grow, the light doesn’t have much purpose!

Note limited views of the harbor!

Note limited views of the harbor!

Looking forward to next week, and how agriculture ties into the framework of cultural and historical landscapes as we venture into work with Alex on Martin Van Buren Historic Site and a trip to Drumlin Farm!

Cheers, until next week!

2 responses to “Managing A Vista: Plants Can’t Always Have Their Own Way

  1. Great post Ericka and right on the spot regarding our planning challenge at Long Island Head Light! I am passing this along to our incipient inter-agency planning group that will be looking toward the future of Long Island…

  2. I Nice job capturing the view concepts for the Acadia VMP. Looking forward to seeing the final images.

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