New Tree Pits
Our work in the Rosedale Runoff Reduction Project (RRRP) area continues as we aim to complete the first phase of the project by the end of 2016. A major component of the project is the planting of 40 street trees in stormwater management tree pits.
This month one of our contractors, Penn Landscape & Cement Work, completed the first four of these tree pits on Rosedale Street. The process included several months of design revisions and meetings with the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works. The tree pits, planted with Black Gum trees, are designed to be lower than the street grade so they will capture street runoff through curb cuts for ground infiltration.
As part of the Operation Better Block Cluster Planning Process, residents voiced their interest in adding green design elements to Rosedale Street. These tree pits are a first step.
Vacant Lot Cleanups
Also, in early April, Nine Mile Run staff worked with two volunteer groups to clean-up three vacant lots on the corner of Rosedale and Hill Streets, next to the Port Authority’s Wilkinsburg Busway parking lot. With the help of 33 volunteers, over 100 trash bags were removed along with 15 tires!
The groups included students from a nature writing graduate class at Chatham University on April 4, who removed over 60 bags of trash and nine tires. On April 12, international students from Bosnia and Herzegovina, visiting through Magee-Women’s International Youth Leadership Program finished cleaning up the lots, collecting more than 40 bags of trash and eight tires. The groups also toured the restoration area of the NMR stream in lower Frick Park before the clean-up to get a sense of where the trash would end up if it had not been cleaned up in the upper watershed.
Stay tuned for more projects in the Rosedale area!
The following post is a guest blog entry from Eric Martin, a Coro Fellow who interned with Nine Mile Run for the last eight weeks.
My name is Eric Martin and I am currently working at Nine Mile Run as part of my nine month long experience as a Coro Fellow. What is the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs? The Coro Fellowship is a leadership development program in Pittsburgh for young adults who want to pursue a career in public affairs. The Fellowship is focused on training individuals who, as citizens and leaders, will all their lives act constructively and competently to build up and improve their communities and society as a whole.
I am originally from Fairmont, WV and graduated in 2010 from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering. In my time since graduating, I have been fortunate enough to have been able to work in short, but connected, experiences that have allowed me to live in other parts of the country and the world while gaining a wide range of skills. Before joining Nine Mile Run for my eight week placement, I was placed at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, where I was tasked with consulting and recommending improvements to their Operations Department.
At Nine Mile Run, I have been fortunate enough to be thrown right in the mix! On my second day, I found myself in the heart of the Nine Mile Run stream helping Maranda and Abbey with our monthly stream sampling. It is unbelievable to think that that was during the second week of January and it is now almost March, and my time here is almost over. In between, I have helped with marketing and project initiatives with Mike, accounting with Lindsey-Rose, learned how to build rain barrels with Paul, attended Clean Rivers Campaign meetings with Brenda, and worked a lot with Jared and the StormWorks crew! Phew!
I want to thank everyone here for being so welcoming and nice! I have felt right at home and a part of the team from the moment I started working here. My hope is that I have helped here in some way and will continue helping to advance the mission of Nine Mile Run in my final weeks here as well as moving forward in my career!
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.
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!
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.com
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!
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.
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!
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.
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?”
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!