By Diana Dunn
Daylight saving time seemed to come early this week at The Watershed Project. That’s because the Greening Urban Watersheds program sprang into action during the early morning hours, and hosted two events this weekend along the Richmond Greenway!
Derek Hitchcock, Greening Urban Watersheds program manager, and his crew coordinated with AmeriCorps members from the Watershed Stewards Project to host a Bioswale Bonanza. The AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Project’s mission is to conserve, restore, and enhance anadromous watersheds for future generations by linking education with high quality scientific practices, which makes them a perfect partner organization for The Watershed Project. And just as the fog burnt away last Saturday morning, we welcomed an additional AmeriCorps team and a group of local Boy Scouts eager to roll up their sleeves and grab some tools. We kept them busy with two separate projects that both required a lot of heavy lifting and digging.
The first hardy group of volunteers were tasked with planting trees along the bioswale, to help create a tree canopy that, as it matures, will mimic a native riparian canopy. Boy Scouts and AmeriCorps members alike were inspired by the pink flowering California Redbud trees that were newly planted during our Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service event in January. Throughout the day, tireless volunteers raised shovelheads full of water-logged soil to plant watershed friendly trees!
But the fun didn’t end there! At the beginning of the day, some of the volunteers took a walk farther up the Greenway to another project near 3rd Street. Volunteers at 3rd also had to break ground in order to build two triangular rain gardens with a tree and sedges and rushes planted in them. The rain gardens are designed to accommodate the flood waters that back up when Richmond’s neighborhood streets dead end into the Greenway and interrupt the natural flow of rainwater. The rain gardens provide ecological and engineering benefits to our watersheds, because they will help spread and sink rain water. The sedges and rushes in the rain gardens also help break down some of the pollutants that can be found in stormwater runoff before they hitch a ride to our Bay.
These projects have a long lasting impact on the health of our local watersheds. By using low impact design elements, we are able to soften the harshness of the urban environment and invite a resurgence of native flora and fauna. Instead of relegating natural spaces to parks and natural areas, these rain gardens and bioswales are a wonderful way to reintroduce nature into our neighborhoods.