The Whitemarsh Environmental Advisory Board initiated a phased riparian restoration project in the township’s premier park. This project was both encouraged and supported financially by the Board of Supervisors and Park & Recreation Committee. The design, purchasing and planting of native species was performed by EAB members.
Miles Park in Lafayette Hill is a highly visible and well-used recreational area within Whitemarsh Township. Between the park’s baseball and soccer fields there is an intermittent stream which receives drainage via two 24-inch pipes. These pipes drain a development located across the road from the park. During heavy rains the stream carries 3 to 4 feet of water. The park’s stream converges at this point with another tributary that empties into the Schuylkill River about a mile downstream. Also, the water from a retention basin enters at this point of convergence. Over the years, the water flow has completely eroded the streambanks. At the point where the stream flows under Germantown Pike, the high streambank has been eroded approximately 4 feet on one side, exposing 3-inch roots from a tree located about 12 feet away. If the summer is exceptionally wet, there will be standing water pools at both the Germantown underpass and at the drain pipes. These two areas provide breeding habitat for mosquitoes.
The township’s Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) provides demonstration sites throughout Whitemarsh as a way to educate/encourage residents on environmental matters, including stormwater management, that are important to the township. Consequently, the EAB decided to initiate a phased project which would not only beautify this area in the park with native plants, but would also help stabilize the streambanks at particular areas and reduce erosion in other areas.
Phase One was initiated on April 4, 2009 by members of the EAB and the township greenhouse staff. The area to be planted was first outlined and edged. Then the sod was rototilled and raked. Approximately 2,500 native species of plants were planted 18″ apart in particular patterns that complemented individual plant growth conditions – shade, sun, moist conditions and wetland conditions. Throughout the Summer this area will be monitored and weeded by EAB members.
Planting more wetland-oriented species, like rushes, directly in the stream will help reduce stream velocity during rapid runoff periods and help reduce sediment movement downstream, thereby improving water quality prior to emptying into the Schuylkill River. Additionally, the native species will attract birds and facilitate the drying of wet and standing water areas which provide habitat for mosquitoes. Bird houses within the naturalized area, educational signage for visitors, and a park bench nestled between two presently established willow trees will provide a relaxing area for our residents. To see a list of plants installed in the buffer, click here.
Watershed: Schuylkill River
Phase One: $7,000
Whitemarsh Environmental Advisory Board
4005 South Warner Road
Lafayette Hill, PA 19444