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hipwader

On the next rainy day, put on your raincoat and check out your downspouts. Is there water from your roof gushing from them? If there is, congratulations, they are doing their job! A summer downpour can result in thousands of gallons of water flowing off of your roof. But have you ever wondered where all of that water ends up?

The answer is, it depends on your downspouts. Can you see water coming from the end of the downspout? If you can, does it run onto your sidewalk, patio or driveway? These surfaces are usually considered impervious, so instead of being absorbed into the ground, the rain water runs off. Depending on where you live, runoff ends up directly in a storm drain or joins runoff from neighboring properties and goes into Reedy Creek. Reedy Creek travels from Midlothian Turnpike to the James, passing through Forest Hill Lake on it’s way. Some storm drains empty directly into the James River.

Why does this matter? The number one cause of stream impairment in urban areas is stormwater runoff. Stormwater is the rain, including pollutants from the roof, fertilizer and pet waste from the yard and oil and other chemicals from the street, that runs off the roof and other impervious surfaces into the storm drains. Storm drains are not the same thing as the sanitary drains that carry household waste water to a treatment center. That means that every pollutant the water has picked up along it’s journey goes directly into the river. Not something most people want to wade, kayak, fish or swim in!

We all live in a watershed , so anything the homeowner can do to keep rain water on their property reduces the impact on our streams. Your downspouts make a difference in the amount of stormwater that remains on your property during a rain event. Water that flows off your property during a storm goes directly into the storm drain or adds to the runoff from neighboring properties. That means millions of gallons of water are running into Reedy Creek with enough force to erode stream banks and carry toxic waste, sediment and litter all the way from Midlothian Turnpike to the lake in Forest Hill Park.

How can you the, homeowner, help? Check out your downspouts, where does the water go when it rains? Does it spill onto an impervious surface, such as a brick or concrete sidewalk that directs the water into the street ? If the soil in your yard is compacted, even your lawn will contribute to storm water runoff.

 

A few easy adjustments can make a difference. Extend a downspout away from your foundation and direct the water to a landscaped area that will catch the rain and keep it on your property, or add a rain barrel to capture the runoff.   If your downspout goes into the ground and you are not sure where it goes, assume that it connects to a storm drain. There is a link to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay at the end of this article for more information on how to disconnect this type of downspout.  A rain barrel attached to a downspout is an ideal way to capture storm water. The water in the barrel can be used to water landscaping or garden areas at a later time. Or, the water can be released slowly after the rain, to keep it from running into the storm drain. Ideally, the storm water should be directed into the garden, or a landscaped area, where the water is absorbed instead of running into the storm drain.

For more information:
http://www.stormwater.allianceforthebay.org
Calculate the amount of water that is coming off of your roof:
https://water.usgs.gov/edu/runoff.html

 

This begins a series of posts about watershed issues with suggestions for how to improve water quality and support the local ecosystem right from your own yard.

We hope you will enjoy

hipwader

Our Reedy Creek logo is very simple, but says a lot about what we think is important.

rccfinal1

The leaf over the top represents canopy as well as understory shrubs and trees, perennials, and other plants.  A healthy canopy, composed primarily of species native to the area, protects streams, improves water quality,  cools the air in summer, and provides life support services for animals from insects to mammals.

The blue at the bottom represents the stream, of course.  A healthy stream should be clear, not muddy; rocky streams such as our should have clean bottoms with little silt and should be free of obvious green algae during warm weather

The stonefly in the middle represents what’s missing from Reedy Creek because of human activity.  This insect lives in water during its nymphal stage* and requires good water quality to survive.  We have changed the entire ecology of the stream!

nymph is the immature form of some invertebrates, particularly insects, which undergoes gradual metamorphosis  before reaching its adult stage.

Please stay tuned for more! 

Crooked Branch Ravine Park acts like a sponge, soaking up rain water and keeping it where it falls.  It is also home to many native plants that support wildlife, including warblers and other song birds on their long migrations.

CBR map

The circle indicates the approximate location of Crooked Branch Ravine Park.

Protecting areas like this will help keep the rain where it falls and help improve water quality; this need is great in urban areas with lots of impervious surface.   Unfortunately, this little park has many non-native, invasive plants and over time they will threaten the tree canopy (natures’ best invention for capturing rain water).  And, as native species are lost so is the diversity that supports wildlife.

This is important work. We would appreciate your help.

  • Sunday,  May 6 from 1 – 3 p.m.  or as long as you can stay.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  An old screwdriver is sometimes helpful for removing ivy from trees; we will show you how.
  • We do ask that you bring your own water.
  • Bring a friend!

Map to meeting site

Please join us as we continue invasive removal in Crooked Branch Ravine Park.    The buds on trees and shrubs there are just about to burst and will then provide berries and nuts for the critters as well as food for caterpillars.

Moth and butterfly eggs are laid on the plants that the caterpillars of that species will eat; the great majority need natve plants and some of them are picky eaters, requiring certain species.  The caterpillars become the primary food source for baby birds.  No caterpillars, no baby birds.  If the non-native plants are allowed to continue their rampant growth, we will loose many of the plants, including large trees, and the area will not be able to sustain the year round residents and migrant birds that depend on it.

This is important work and we would really appreciate your help.

  • Sunday,  April 8  from 1 – 3 p.m.  or as long as you can stay.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  An old screwdriver is sometimes helpful for removing ivy from trees; we will show you how.
  • We do ask that you bring your own water.
  • Bring a friend!
  • If you have never done this type of work before we will glady show you what to do.

Map to meeting site

hickory buds

Hickory buds are ready to pop!

Crooked Branch Ravine Park, a small park on the south side of Richmond, is home to a diverse urban forest, some lovely native shrubs and perennials, and the critters that depend on such places.  Many of these plants are threatened by non-native, invasive species.  We can either do something to change the situation or we will eventually lose both the canopy and understory layers.

This is a picture of an area we have cleared of ivy and honeysuckle, which was particularly thick toward the back .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is where we will work next, gradually expanding the cleared area.  Please come help us remove ivy from the ground and from trees…

  • Sunday,  March 11 from 1 – 4 p.m.  If you can only stay an hour, that’s OK.  Every hour counts.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  An old screwdriver is sometimes helpful for removing ivy from trees; we will show you how.
  • We do ask that you bring your own water.
  • Bring a friend!

Map to meeting site

 

 

This beautiful little green space along Reedy Creek provides food and shelter to birds and other wildlife, is home to some native plants that are no longer common in the city, and helps protect water quality by acting like a sponge during rain events.  Sounds pretty important, doesn’t it?  The problem is that English ivy and other invasive plants are rampant in some areas and habitat is being destroyed.  That is why we need your help!

Please come help us remove ivy from the ground and from trees…

  • Sunday, February 18 from 1 – 4 p.m.  If you can only stay an hour, that’s OK.  Every hour counts.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  An old screwdriver is sometimes helpful for removing ivy from trees; we will show you how.
  • We do ask that you bring your own water.
  • The temperature should be in the mid 50s and comfortable for working outside.

Map to meeting site

Bluberry flower CBR

Vaccinium species (blueberries for the birds) are found in some areas of Crooked Branch where English ivy has not yet covered the ground. 

 

Three good reasons to join us on January 13 from 1 – 4 p.m. for an invasive removal project…

  • The MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.”
  • You can help care for the earth right here in RVA.
  • A great opportunity to get outside; the temperature should be reasonably comfortable for this kind of work!

Only have an hour to spare?  That’s quite alright.  Every little bit helps.

Crooked Branch Ravine Park is at the end of Northrop Street where there is a path into the park.  MAP .  However, due to parking limitations on this street, we ask that you meet at the Stone House in Forest Hill Park and car pool over.  If you are arriving late, come on over to Northrop Street.  Bring gloves, pruners, and, if you have one, a small saw for cutting large ivy vines.

This event is being hosted by Reedy Creek Coalition, Friends of Forest Hill Park, the Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities, and Councilmember Parker Agelasto’s 5th District office.

Please sign up at    https://www.handsonrva.org/opportunity/a0CA000000q5NBGMA2

hickory canopy

YOU CAN HELP THE CANOPY LIVE LONG AND PROSPER