Once an abandoned railroad corridor that formed a neglected border isolating neighborhoods, today the Richmond Greenway is undergoing a renaissance of innovative park projects that restore natural functions into the urban landscape. Linked by a class I bike trail, the 3-mile long Greenway features seven completed green infrastructure projects constructed by The Watershed Project with over 450 volunteers helping to plant rain gardens, bioswales, trees, and over 1,275 native plants. 1,815,000 gallons of stormwater will be treated annually by the completed green infrastructure projects. We are currently leading the planning and implementation of four more bioswales, creating a model for naturally filtering runoff and a community asset that draws people to the Greenway.
By developing a network of rain gardens and bioswales on the Richmond Greenway, we were able to address water pollution, restore ecosystem function, and develop vibrant community connections in a low-cost, grass-roots way. Our methods can be implemented in other places to improve the health of watersheds and the health of communities. They serve as a demonstration that residents can take matters of environmental pollution and social injustice in their own hands and create real, positive change.
Incorporated into a community, these green infrastructure features provide many benefits that go beyond stormwater filtration. They supply:
- much-needed green space that the city of Richmond both requires and deserves.
- native plants gardens with multiple benefits; they require little supplemental water, thrive without pesticides, and provide an extended bloom season and a variety of resources for birds, butterflies, pollinators, and beneficial insects that prey upon pest species.