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Remember: Riparian buffers 301: (Rain Garden Help Wanted)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Riparian buffers 301: (Rain Garden Help Wanted)

The following appeared in 1993, published under the title “The Role of Riparian Corridors In Maintaining Regional Biodiversity”.this study was published by The Ecological Society of America and was written by: Robert J Naiman, Henri Decamps and Michael Pollock:


Pretty straight forward right?

It becomes increasingly obvious when a little research is done that the benefits of riparian restoration is without limit.  Such restoration provides educational opportunities, increased wildlife habitat, increased biomass, creek temperature control, runoff mitigation, scenic vistas, etc etc etc etc, trust me the list could go on and on and on and on.

So, is there a  genuine concern for the preservation and restoration of said vegetative corridors hiding behind the vitriol of the last few weeks worth of comments on here?  I hope so.  This is after all, the real issue.  Yes, aesthetics are important.  Yes, the appearance of the parks is important.  Yes, the history of the parks is important and is something to be preserved.

None of these issues however is as important as the restoration of the riparian corridors in our parks.  (And, for the record, riparian is defined as “ related to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse.)

I’m not talking about the skinny excuses of buffer zones made up of weeds and invasive plants (Multiflora Rose being the most rampant) in parts of the Parkway nor am I referring to the unmanaged buffer on Cedar Creek behind the mirror ponds that has developed over the last few years or the horrible knotweed dominated creek banks in Trout Creek Parkway.

I am referring to something we have yet seen in our park system although parts of Trexler Park come close.

I want to see some real riparian restoration in the parks with managed buffers that stretch to the maximum amount of feet possible given the location where planting takes place. 

I want to see wading birds in Cedar Creek, in the Little Lehigh, in Trout Creek.  I want to see fish swimming. I want to see butterflies, bees, snakes, songbirds, hawks; I want to see Nature when I go someplace to see Nature.  I don’t want to see grass mowed to the edges of creek edges with eroded edges, little plant life, loosestrife, multiflora rose, Japanese knotweed, I don’t want to see sucker fish dominating sediment filled water dotted with the algae of excessive nitrogen and phosphorus run off.

Do you want to see what I want to see?  Why wouldn’t you?  I mean honestly, at this point that crucial balance of nature that is preserved by real riparian vegetation and restoration should be the best experience that is possible to be felt in our creek based parks. 
Last summer I told a reader to visit a fountain in the mall if they want to experience a controlled, neutered, empty body of water.  Such places have no place in our parks. 

So, what can we do to change it?  It isn’t like any us can magically transform not only the parks themselves but the hearts and minds of stolid Allentonians and city officials. We don’t have any money. To think that this would be easy, would be a happy-ass delusion and would serve to change nothing.  This is going to be hard work readers and there is a lot of drudgery to go through before any small success is possible.  Here, at step one, a small success is the best we can hope for.

Step One is education readers and as such, I am actively working on a plant list for the first (of what I am hoping are many) rain gardens in our parks.  (Here, is the help wanted)  If you know anyone who wants to work on setting this first example with me, if they know plants, if they know rain gardens, if they just want to help and learn, if they are in fact you, help me find plant donations, simply, please help.  

Leave a comment, leave your name. 

Here is Site Zero.  This is where the first Remember Rain garden will be.
DSCN2083 DSCN2085
As details develop, as plans are made, I will share everything with you right here on Remember. 

Don’t forget, this isn’t something new folks.  The establishment and maintenance of riparian buffer corridors has been recommend guidelines in the state of Pennsylvania since the 1970’s (at least).  As much as renovations in the parks are decried by many, the real issue remains that the ecological health of our parks is in a timeless limbo of poor care, study and development.  The real issue has to be addressed.  Build this rain garden with me. 

See Also:
If you click the Riparian Buffer tag under here, there are many posts that document the buffers in our parks, the issues within and many other journeys in vegetation.

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Anonymous monkey momma said...

So, the rain garden will go between the newly paved paths at Cedar Beach, west of the rose garden? Is this the area Weitzel approved for a rain garden?

"Do you want to see what I want to see? Why wouldn’t you?"

Well...since you asked...I am actually concerned that your plans for a rain garden will change the look of Cedar Beach far beyond what the pavement has already done. I'm not sure how big of a garden you're talking about, but if it's the size of that huge swamp, then it's pretty freakin' big.

I understand your environmental argument - but, Cedar Beach is NOT a natural habitat. Obviously - it's a manicured park. A park where you can see from one side to another, as long as you're between the trees.

Now this is just my opinion, so don't kill me, but I happen to love the lawn stretching endlessly in Cedar Beach. When it hasn't rained for 40 days and 40 nights, that area is great for frisbee and kickball. My since deceased and beloved dog illegaly chased balls there (and I did clean up after her, I promise). I would be just extremely disappointed to see a huge garden (what some will inevitably call "weeds") placed right smack in the middle of what is already a deteriorating park.

Perhaps I have misunderstood the location of the first rain garden. Please let me know if that's the case. Thank you for your continued work in our parks, Andrew.

April 17, 2010 at 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I feel that there is room for both highly-manicured and natural spaces in our parks. West Park - beautiful manicured public garden & park. Trexler Park - a combination of both well manicured and natural space. I think Cedar can also be both - the Rose Garden is about as manicured of a public garden as you can get, and there are fields & courts for recreational use, but there is plenty of space for wild areas like a meadow, a riparian growth zone, and for a rain garden. Also, I think it would be helpful if you posted a photo of a rain garden so that readers like Monkey Momma can see how beautiful they can be - further enhancing the beauty of the park, not detracting from it.

April 17, 2010 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger michael molovinsky said...

monkey momma, i wouldn't worry too much about losing those "open frisbee area's", weitzel has pretty much done away with the open lawns already with his additional paths. i too lament losing the visual contrast between the tree's and open space. but those aesthetics mean nothing to weiztel, he's strictly a recreation guy. they don't mean that much to andrew, he's an environmental guy. it was just an old fashioned concept for old fogies like myself and general trexler. besides, there is a frisbee course in lehigh parkway.

p.s. there was no course in woman and her dog, when weitzel got his masters in recreation. probably also no such course for andrew in environmental science.

April 17, 2010 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger cindy said...

ooooh...back in 1993 i helped with a movement that has now become citywide to stop mowing down to the creeks...we asked for a 25 foot boarder on both sides..there was some sort of federal law passed back then that required the cities of over 100,00 i think had to do something to reduce runoff pollution in creeks...with diplomatic pressure and excellent scientific research printed out & handed to city council members... & all local & state is absolutely clear what must be done...
the first year a small crew of us planted over 100 trees...native species..we raised the money thru donations..did our own plan, planted (the city drilled a few holes for the bigger trees) but we hand dug most of the holes...added compost...taught everyone how to properly plant a tree & maintain it....and bucket watered them for a summer...(better to plant in the late fall..)
the trees i planted are now over 30 feet tall..
there are now hawks hunting there, bluebirds on the edges, ducks, muskrats, the occasional beavers who are not allowed to year we wrapped all of the trunks with wire mesh to keep them from taking our tender saplings......i saw 2 snow geese..lost in migration i guess, last year...the creeks still flood but the roots of the trees slow the water & the creek has started to meander a bit..

i am digging a little pond for the water from my roof to run into...will find a rug to hold the water ..then water lillies !!
i have a 50 gallon rainbarrell on the front drain which fills up pretty quickly...usefull in the hot dry is easy to make one yourself..i did several

i quit mowing in 1987,,,and both front & back are an endless sea of changing colors/textures/light..doing shitaki mushroom logs now from prunings from a giant pecan & 2 willow oaks out back..and established 2 new food beds in back..

have fun playing in your gardens..deeply peaceful healing to earth and your spirit

April 17, 2010 at 6:56 PM  

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