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Nine Mile Run blog

10
Nov

Volunteers and Nine Mile Run staff set out this past Saturday morning to weed and mulch over two dozen trees along the Port Authority’s Busway Linear Park along Edgewood Avenue in Swissvale. Armed with gloves, shovels, and wheelbarrows, the group got right to work improving the tree pits after a brief overview from NMR staff member Jared Manzo.

Volunteers receiving orientation from NMR staff member Jared Manzo.

The weather was chilly and traffic along the road was a bit intimidating but the volunteers were not deterred! Volunteers assiduously removed weeds that compete for soil nutrients, and spread mulch at an even depth making sure to pull a few inches back any mulch from around the trunks of the tree.

Two AmeriCorps volunteers digging for weeds.

Terry is helping to aerate the soil.

Board member Tim Ward going after the tough weeds!

NMR staff Mike Hiller and Nate Resnick-Day work on a tree pit together.

By the end of the event, we had tended 24 of the 28 maple trees. NMRWA staff finished the final four trees the following week. Thank you to Veltre’s Pizza in Swissvale and Coffee Tree Roasters in Squirrel Hill for the donated refreshments for volunteers.

NMRWA is extending their effort to benefit these trees by undertaking a tree pit expansion project. One of the greatest challenges for street trees is a lack of adequate soil volume. With Port Authority of Allegheny County’s permission, we are removing a strip of concrete to connect existing tree pits in pairs. Thirteen sites have been identified. Six will be completed in the remainder of 2015 with the other seven completed in 2016. The purpose of the project is to create more area for water infiltration and rooting space. Hopefully, this work will equate to larger, healthier, and longer lived trees.

These trees will get expanded tree pits in 2015 & 2016.

If you are interested in helping trees in Swissvale, we will be planting trees this coming Saturday, November 14th, 2015 along Columbia Avenue, Delaware Avenue, and the Universal Academy of Pittsburgh. This will be our last tree event of the year so please come out and help us finish strong!

Last NMR Tree event of 2015!

20
Oct

Last Saturday Nine Mile Run staff welcome a group of teen volunteers with Point Breeze New Church School to remove trash from Nine Mile Run, the stream in lower Frick Park. The group of staff, teachers, and students were taking part in the Youth Group Weekend. This group was unique as the teens traveled far from home, hailing from Oak Arbor, MI, Kempton, PA, Toronto, Canada, and Kitchener, Ontario.  One of the things their church teaches is the importance of service to your neighbors, so participating in community service projects is a critical aspect of their learning.

Point Breeze Church Group Weekend

Starting out on a chilly morning, the students gathered around to receive instructions, vests and tools from Nine Mile staff. The 47 teens were then divided into two groups with staff to start picking up debris at different points in the stream.

Youth Group teens off to pick trash

The students were energetic and excited to be there, talking about what they might find and who could collect the most trash. Once in the stream, small teams broke out and eagerly scanned for and picked up anything they could snag with their trash grabber sticks. Moving and filling bags quickly, the volunteers managed to fill 29 bags of trash in two hours. Among their interesting finds were some articles of clothing, a couple forks, and an expired credit card.

Two teens bag their latest litter find

NMR staff member Jared Manzo scans the stream for trash

This teen is carrying one of the 29 bags filled that day

Two teens work together to get trash out of the stream

After the trash bags were tied off the students, group leaders, and Nine Mile Run staff reconvened to enjoy hot chocolate, granola bars, and take some group photos.

Youth Group Weekend-NMR Streem Sweep participants

The work the youth group performed was vital to the health of Nine Mile Run. Stream sweeps help address the watershed’s core problems of urban waste flooding the stream with every storm event. By removing trash, the volunteers helped remove pollution in the stream, maintain a healthy and clean ecosystem for recreation and wildlife habitat, and reduce amount of trash that could have ultimately washed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Volunteer with Nine Mile Run!

If you are interested in volunteering with Nine Mile Run Watershed Association we have two events coming up on November 7th and 14th to plant and take care of trees in Swissvale. We hope to see you there! Sign up links are below.

Tree Care in Swissvale: Saturday, November 7th, 9:00am-12:00pm

Tree Planting in Swissvale: Saturday, November 14th, 9:30am-12:00pm

To inquire about arranging private group volunteer events please contact Maranda Nemeth at (412) 371-8779 ext. 123 or .

Nine Mile Run

This picture of Nine Mile Run is one of the most recent additions to our Instagram account. Click/tap the picture to see more of our snapshots in and around the stream!

02
Oct

On Saturday, September 26th, Nine Mile Run staff held a work day with five Operation Better Block Jr. Green Corps students to cleanup three vacant lots on Oakwood & Batavia Streets in Homewood as part of the Rosedale Runoff Reduction Project (RRRP). The OBB students and staff (Jerome Jackson and Demi Kolke) helped NMR staff remove 33 tires and 12 bags of trash from the lots. The weeds were cut down with brush cutters and taken to Agrecycle to be processed into compost or mulch.

OBB student cleaning up debris

Maranda Nemeth cleaning up debris

OBB students picking up trash

OBB students picking up trash

OBB student clearing weeds with weed whacker

OBB student clearing weeds with weed whacker

Nate Resnick-Day collecting weeds

Nate Resnick-Day collecting weeds

This intersection will be the location of the first RRRP construction project scheduled to start in October to install green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). The purpose for cleaning up the lots was to prevent litter from washing into the nearby storm drains whens it rains and eventually into Nine Mile Run. Hopefully this will lessen the load of future stream sweeps!

OBB students pose with tires collected from Oakwood-Batavia lot.

OBB students pose with tires collected from Oakwood-Batavia lot.

The Oakwood-Batavia project is scheduled to begin construction in later October. It will be the first GSI facility to be constructed that will extend into the roadway in the City of Pittsburgh. Nine Mile Run with the help of Ethos Collaborative has been working with the City DPW and PWSA to finalize all design features to meet all codes and ordinances.

Nine Mile Run is also hosting a stream tour for residents of Homewood and East Hills on Thursday, October 15th. For more information about the RRRP, please visit: rosedalerain.comRRRP Streamwalk Flyer

 

17
Sep

After the spring tree planting season, Greenlinks was busy with tree care events to remove weeds and add mulch to young trees in Wilkinsburg this summer.  To prepare for the opening of Wilkinsburg Thursday Open Market, volunteers worked to touch up the 18 trees planted in the Borough parking lot along Ross Avenue in June.  As part of our lead up to the Summer Storm, event sponsor Sweetwater Brewing Company gave out free pints to volunteers as part of their “tap takeover” at D’s Six Pax and Dogz.  It was hard work that was well rewarded.

On July 21, we worked with Wilkinsburg Youth Project’s Garden Team to clean up the weeds for the 50+ trees on or around Turner Elementary campus.  These kids spent a long day steadily moving from one tree to the next without losing any momentum.  We really enjoyed working with the kids and were proud of their top-notch work!

Wilkinsburg Youth Project’s Garden Team

Finally, we welcomed 26 volunteers who were part of the Office of PittServes student orientation service day.  The volunteers helped remove weeds, and add mulch to around 30 older honeylocust trees along Wood Street between Franklin Ave and Wallace Ave.  Many hands made the work go quick.  We even had time to visit other tree pits in the area before students had to go back to campus.

pitt group photo

Removing weeds and adding mulch is important; especially during periods of drought (like what we experiencing right now in the watershed).  Diligently removing weeds by the roots removes competition for water resources. Adding mulch helps retain soil moisture.

Do you have trees showing early autumn color?  Consider giving them a drink of water once a week during the month of September water by slowly releasing water within their root zone (1 gallon/ 1inch diameter of trunk).  If you are also applying mulch, please no volcano mulching!

Mulch volcano! Credit: Casey Trees

27
May

As you may have seen in our Spring newsletter, since 2013 we have been working with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC) on a grant received from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program. One of the goals of our partnership on this grant was to develop a culture of stewardship for the Nine Mile Run watershed by engaging a wide range of ages in citizen science and stewardship activities. One way we approached this was to implement PPC’s Mission Ground Truth (MGT) program at Wilkinsburg Middle School.

MGT is an interdisciplinary ecosystem assessment program mapped to PA state academic standards for 7th and 8th grade students that includes in-class discovery activities as well as a field trip to Frick Park. During the field trip, students get to be ecologists for the day, and have the opportunity to use the same tools and sampling methods that scientists use to evaluate the health of forest and stream ecosystems.

Recently, NMRWA staff worked for two days in Frick Park with Environmental Educators from PPC to help lead the Wilkinsburg Middle School students through the field day programming.

Jared, Mike, & the students get ready for a leaf race!

Jared, Mike, & the students get ready for a leaf race!

We began each morning by discussing goals for the day, then broke into small groups. During the morning session, the groups each explored a section of the Fern Hollow stream while discussing questions such as “how can ecologists detect and measure pollution in a stream?” and “what benefits do humans and animals get from streams?” Then the students recorded data on physical and chemical water quality characteristics, such as temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and velocity. Next, we explored the benthic macroinvertebrate populations by carefully overturning rocks and collecting samples using a net. To wrap up, we would discuss how everything tied together by asking questions like “based on the data we collected, is the stream healthy or unhealthy?“and “how does the quality of Fern Hollow affect the health of Nine Mile Run?

Mike & a student measure the diameter of a tree.

Mike & a student measure the diameter of a tree.

After a break for lunch, the students got to venture into the forest for a deeper look at the complex forest ecology present in Frick Park. We identified different tree and plant species and talked about the various ecosystem services that forests provide to animals, streams, and people. We asked questions like “why is biodiversity important in forests?” and “how is the health of this forest related to the health of Fern Hollow and Nine Mile Run?” Then the students used forestry tools to collect data on the location, size, and type of trees, and we looked for evidence of Asian long-horned beetles. To wrap up, we asked questions similar to the morning session, like “is this section of the forest healthy or unhealthy?

Over the course of the two days, we had a wonderful & enriching experience working with the students and with the PPC staff. Thank you to Mike, Taiji, Steve, and Chelsea for their expertise & enthusiasm in implementing the MGT programming!

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