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We intend to tackle the English ivy growing up trees this coming Sunday.  This effort will have positive effects beyond this small park since English ivy only produces flowers, fruit and then berries only after it climbs a vertical surface.  The vines above the cut will die and there will be no berries for the birds to eat and then spead the see to other locations.  It’s also a relief for the tree!

We will meet on Crutchfield Street across the road from the sports fields of George Wythe High School. This important work and we would really appreciate your help.

 

 

  • Sunday,  November 4 from 1 – 3 p.m.  or as long as you can stay.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  A small saw if you have one
  • 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.

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Hometown Habitat, Stories of Bringing Nature Home 

There is a desperate need for a network of native plants in urban areas.       Your yard can be and should become part of that network. Please join us for this 90-minute environmental education documentary focused on showing how and why native plants are critical to the survival and vitality of local ecosystems.  This is a great opportunity to learn more.

https://themeadowproject.com/hometown-habitat/

 The message:   All of us have the power to support habitat for wildlife and bring natural beauty to our own patch of the earth, no matter how small.

 The goal:   Build a new army of habitat heroes right here in our hometown!

  • Wednesday, October 24, 2018
  • Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts
  • 3411 Semmes Ave
  • Doors open at 6:00 p.m. The film begins promptly at 6:30 p.m.
  • Children are welcome to attend, but child care is not provided.
  • Parking is availble behind the school and on nearby streets.

Registration is not required, but we would like to know how many people to expect.  An E-mail reminder will be sent to those who register.

 

This showing is made possible by a generous contribution from Robin Ruth, a founding member of Reedy Creek Coalition.  Robin cares deeply for the natural world from the soil teeming with life to the tops of the trees and every living thing between.

 

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Reedy Creek Coalition plans to plant a small area of park property along Covington Road with native trees and shrubs; this will be done in sections over the next 2-3 years.  Over time these new plants should transform the area from a wildlife “unfriendly” site to one that provides food and shelter.  Other benefits are cleaner water and a cooler environment.  Our efforts will start with invasive removal and we hope that you will join us.

  • Sunday,   October 21  from 1 – 3 p.m.  or as long as you can stay.
  • Bring gloves and hand clippers.  A small saw may be useful if you have one.
  • 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 help you identify the plants that need to be removed.
  • Questions:  Contact us at https://reedycreekcoalition.org/contact-us/

Map to the site

There are some trees along the edge of the property, but more will be better. 

 

 

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Hometown Habitat

Hometown Habitat, Stories of Bringing Nature Home 

Please join us for this 90-minute environmental education documentary focused on showing how and why native plants are critical to the survival and vitality of local ecosystems.

https://themeadowproject.com/hometown-habitat/

 The message:   All of us have the power to support habitat for wildlife and bring natural beauty to our own patch of the earth, no matter how small.

 The goal:   Build a new army of habitat heroes right here in our hometown!

  • Wednesday, October 24, 2018
  • Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts
  • 3411 Semmes Ave
  • Doors open at 6:00 p.m. The film begins promptly at 6:30 p.m.
  • Children are welcome to attend, but child care is not provided.
  • Parking is availble behind the school and on nearby streets.

Registration is not required, but we would like to know how many people to expect.  An E-mail reminder will be sent to those who register.

This showing is made possible by a generous contribution from Robin Ruth, a founding member of Reedy Creek Coalition.  Robin cares deeply for the natural world from the soil teeming with life to the tops of the trees and every living thing between.

butterfly monarch new

Support LIFE: Help create a habitat network right here in our neighborhood. 

 

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Have you ever really thought about where the water goes when it rains?   In urban areas much of that water is intentionally directed to a storm drain and most of that ends up in a stream.   The primary intent -to reduce flooding- is accomplished most of the time, but this storm water transports pollutants, causes stream bank erosion, and makes conditions intolerable for most aquatic life.  Many consider it the root cause of all watershed evils!

This system of storm drains, concrete channels and the like seemed a good idea at the time, but as development and urban sprawl increased, so did the storm water runoff and the damage it does.  We need to re-think how we manage this water.  The answer, strange as it may seem, is to keep this water where it falls and let it soak into the ground.  We don’t want your basement to flood, but please do consider what you could do to keep some of your rain on your property.   Mother nature protects watersheds and water quality with plants.  Our best and easiest option is to mimic nature.

Trees are better than anything man every invented when it comes protecting and improving water quality and they do this in several ways.

  • Raindrops falling directly from the sky hit the ground with enough impact to compact soil over time making it more difficult for water to soak in. Raindrops that encounter leaves or branches first don’t hit the ground so hard.
  • Leaves, branches and bark catch and hold some rain. Some evaporates and some falls to the ground later, both reduce the chance of run off.
  • Roots create a route for water to more easily soak into the soil.
  • The network of roots helps hold the soil, reducing erosion.
  • Leaf litter under the tree is another place to capture some water. It will also create a soil high in organic matter that acts like a sponge to soak up and hold water.

Perhaps you already have some large trees.  Mimic nature again and make this watershed friendly landscape even better by adding layers.   Small, understory trees and shrubs will capture even more water.   If possible, allow some of your lawn to become a layered landscape too and add some lovely perennials.  Please use native plant species and keep your leaf litter.

We should all take responsibility for the rain that falls on our property.   One well landscaped property will make a small impact, but collectively we could make a big difference.  Join your neighbors to create the largest protected area you can.   This will also provide habitat, food and cover for birds and other critters who are now quite dependent on us to provide for them.

WATER QUALITY BEGINS AT HOME

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

More ideas for protecting our watershed can be found here

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hipwader

Reedy Creek suffers from Urban Stream Syndrome.   

You can help!

Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients that are found naturally in the environment.  However, a lot of human activities create excesses of these nutrients.   For example, the fertilizers you might put on your lawn or garden or the detergent you use to wash your car each probably contain nitrogen and phosphorus in some form.  Pet waste contains nitrogen and phosphorus too.  When these things wash into stormwater drains, they ultimately end up in our creeks and steams.   There, either of two things can happen.  If it‘s just a little bit of nutrients, and the water flows slowly through the environment, plants and microbes can take care of the nutrients, changing them into forms that are harmless to the environment.

Unfortunately, a lot of streams in our cities suffer from “Urban Stream Syndrome”.  This could mean that the water does not flow slowly (maybe it’s been channelized) or that the amount of nutrient input is just too much for the plants and microbes to handle.  Those nutrients ultimately end up in our nation’s coastal areas, including the Chesapeake Bay.  Here, those excess nutrients affect the habitability of the water for other species by causing harmful algal blooms and “dead zones” of water with low oxygen.

Over several months during Fall 2016, students from the University of Richmond studied Reedy Creek for a Microbial Ecology class.  They found that the creek shows a lot of the characteristics of urban stream syndrome, including high numbers of indicator bacteria, high nitrogen levels, and low levels of dissolved oxygen.  However, they also found that after the water passed through Crooked Branch Ravine Park and approached its merger with the James River, levels of at least one chemical containing nitrogen (nitrate) declined to a normal level.  What this means is that the microbes and plants in the park were doing their job!

Within urban environments, natural areas can provide us with “ecosystem services” like reducing nutrients in stormwater.  It’s up to us, however, to make sure we don’t overwhelm the system. We can do this by planting rain gardens that absorb stormwater, picking up pet waste, and by thinking about what we let wash into the storm drains.  We can also advocate for sensible and forward-thinking urban planning that incorporates as much nature as possible

Dr. Amy Treonis, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Richmond

…..

The Hip Waders Journal is 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.  Click the link for easy access to all posts.

 

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hipwader

Did you know that lawns cover nearly 10% of the Chesapeake Bay watershed?  And turf grass covers a much higher percentage of the land in many urban and suburban areas.  Unfortunately, all of this lawn is a major source of water quality problems in Reedy Creek as well as the Chesapeake Bay.

Why do lawns have a negative impact on water quality?  Consider a lawn that is managed by frequent mowing and always kept cut at a low height.  During the hot and dry weeks of the summer, the lawn dries out and the soil becomes hard.  When a thunderstorm finally provides some relief, much of the water from the hard-driving rain runs off the lawn because the ground acts more like concrete than soil.  So the first consequence of lawns is that they can contribute a lot of stormwater that reaches Reedy Creek very quickly.  In turn, this leads to streambank erosion and harms aquatic life.  Second, as stormwater runs across a lawn, it can pick up a variety of pollutants (e.g. soil particles, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, dog poop) that damage Reedy Creek as well as the James River and Chesapeake Bay.

What can you do to prevent degradation of Reedy Creek from lawns?  The first step is to manage your lawn to minimize potential impacts to water quality.  Do not cut the grass on a strict schedule.  Mow the grass when it reaches a height of approximately 4 inches and use the highest setting on your mower.  Taller grass shades out weeds, promotes deeper root growth, and reduces evaporation.  That means the lawn will not turn into “concrete” as quickly and will do a better job of infiltrating stormwater (i.e. reducing polluted runoff).  To minimize pollutants, eliminate the use of toxic chemicals; quickly repair any bare spots that could release soil particles; and use the minimum amount of fertilizers, preferably organic fertilizers such as compost and mulched/shredded leaves.  (Now that the city is not picking up leaves, this is a great way to make them disappear!)  Organic fertilizers provide nutrients over a long period of time as well as improve the soil.  Lastly, leave the grass clippings on the lawn to recycle the nutrients and help build the soil.

The second step you can take to prevent degradation of Reedy Creek from lawns is to replace unnecessary grassy areas with native plants that have existed in the Richmond area for millennia.  Any combination of native grasses, perennial flowers, shrubs, and trees will provide greater environmental benefits than lawn.  This is because the root systems of these plants grow much deeper into the soil than turf grasses, sometimes reaching depths greater than ten feet.  These plants can reach all of the water and nutrients they need once established.  No need for watering or fertilizers or toxic chemicals that can runoff into Reedy Creek.

There is one more critical benefit of replacing lawn areas with native plants.  Lawns are virtual “biological deserts” – very few insects, birds, amphibians, etc.  Have you noticed that the most frequent birds in most urban yards are European starlings and house sparrows?  Both species are native to Europe and don’t even belong in Richmond.  By contrast, areas with native plantings will draw a host of native birds including gray catbirds, brown thrashers, rufous-sided towhees, and white-breasted nuthatches – not to mention winter visitors like white-throated sparrows, juncos, and cedar waxwings.  In short, native plants provide all of the resources needed to support a thriving food web from butterflies to bees to birds.

For a humorous look at lawns, check out the following short piece: http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/dead-lawn-society-healthier-choice-gardeners/8124-st-francis-explaining-grass.html.

For a more detailed exploration about the benefits of replacing lawn with native plants, visit the following website: http://content.yardmap.org/learn/removing-lawn-to-make-way-for-more-habitat/?utm_source=Cornell+Lab+eNews&utm_campaign=d15849e6ff-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_09&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_47588b5758-d15849e6ff-278116725

 

front yard

Lawn once occupied this space where native species now benefit bees butterflies, birds & others.

back yard

Replace grassy areas with trees, shrubs and perennials.  Keep only the lawn you really need.   

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