Archive for October, 2014


Happy Halloween! In the past week and a half, with the help of volunteers, NMRWA has cared for 80 trees in the watershed, getting them ready for winter.

Last Thursday, October 23, NMRWA staff and volunteers began working to care for more than 60 trees around Turner Elementary and along Laketon Road in Wilkinsburg’s first ward. The 18 young trees located around the playground and in the school’s front lawn were weeded and mulched, and special care was taken to avoid burying tree root flares with mulch, a phenomenon called volcano mulching. Volcano mulching is, unfortunately, a common site in urban landscapes. Burying a tree’s root flare with mulch has the potential to introduce fungal infections to the trunk, encourage girdling roots, suffocate roots, and move water away from the root ball. All of these can be detrimental to a young trees establishment or long term health, so we are careful to instruct volunteers on proper mulching techniques.

mulching technique

The next day, we worked with a group of Chatham University Environmental Studies students to continue weeding and mulching the trees along Laketon Road. The students worked assiduously to remove all weeds from each tree pit by pulling them out completely by the roots. Weeds have fine feeder roots that are close to the soil surface to grab water, minerals, and oxygen, as well as deeper roots that can extend into the same areas as tree roots, so removing weeds from the tree pits helps reduce the competition for valuable water and nutrients.Chatham students tree care Oct 24 2014

After finishing up on Laketon Road, on Tuesday, October 28, we worked with volunteers on Edgewood Avenue in Swissvale to remove weeds and add mulch to nearly 20 red maples that line the Busway. These trees are growing in a challenging area so yearly maintenance to improve the conditions for the trees is important. Mulching a tree’s root system helps control extreme soil temperatures, retain soil moisture, reduce soil compaction, and promotes root growth which is essential to establishment. As a general rule, we like to make sure mulch is maintained at a three to four inch layer.

Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers, and to the Wilkinsburg Department of Public Works for donating extra wheelbarrows for us to use at these events! Join us for our last tree event of 2014 next Saturday, November 8th when we’ll be planting trees in Swissvale!


This past Saturday morning, in partnership with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s TreeVitalize program, NMRWA planted thirteen new street trees in Wilkinsburg and Regent Square.

tree planting

Volunteers plant a ginko tree in Regent Square.

Our wonderful volunteers enjoyed breakfast at the NMRWA office before the tree planting demonstration. Then they headed off to plant trees! The trees planted ranged in size from small understory trees, such as serviceberries which grow to about 20 feet tall, to a large London planetree, which can grow to 60 feet!

Even though these trees have now been successfully transplanted, their success is not guaranteed! Slowly trickling twenty gallons of water per week into the root ball during the growing season is important to the young tree’s establishment – the general rule is that it takes one year per inch trunk diameter for the tree to become established. If drought conditions exist, even more water per week may be necessary to ensure survival. For trees planted during the fall like these, one heavy watering after the leaves fall off is sufficient for winter preparation.

After all thirteen trees were planted, volunteers enjoyed lunch back at the NMRWA office. Thank you to WPC staff and all our volunteers for helping us introduce new stormwater stewards to the watershed!


Welcome our newest staff members to Nine Mile Run Watershed Association by learning more about them in the post below! They each answered 5 questions about themselves and what they like to do so you can get to know them better.


Maureen (Mo) Copeland

Mo started with Stormworks in June 2014 as their  Regional Stormwater Strategist. She is the friendly face you will see at your doorstep for rain container consultations. A southwestern PA native, Mo earned her undergraduate degree from Allegheny College and a graduate degree from Duquesne University. Learn more about Mo from the questions below!

1. What is your favorite tree?

Paper Birch because the bark looks just like paper. It was also the first tree that Mo could identify from looking at the bark.

Highbush Blueberry is Mo's favorite plant.

Highbush Blueberry is Mo’s favorite plant.

2. What is your favorite native plant?

Mo loves blueberries so the Highbush Blueberry plant ranks high. Plus, it is native to our area!

3. What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A basketball player.

4. Can you speak any other languages?

Not yet but, she is learning sign language.

5. What is your favorite condiment?

Honey mustard sauce.


Jared Manzo

Jared started working at NMRWA at the beginning of October. He is our new Greenlinks Coordinator so you will see him at all of our tree care and tree planting events this Fall. He is a West Virginia native but has lived in Pittsburgh since 2010. Jared earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at WVU. Learn more about Jared from the questions below!

1. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Cake batter or birthday cake.

2. What is your favorite tree?

Jared’s favorite native oak species is the White Oak tree because of its form or, the way the tree’s branches grow.

White Oak is Jared's favorite type of native Oak tree.

White Oak is Jared’s favorite type of native Oak tree.

Although it is not native to our area, Scotch Pine tops Jared’s list of favorite trees, too.

Jared is also fond of the native Sugar Maple tree because of its great Fall colors.

3. What are your hobbies?

Jared enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, collecting records at the many record stores around Pittsburgh, and hiking in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

4. What is your favorite restaurant?

The Dor-Stop in Dormont. Jared tends to go for the banana walnut pancakes.

5. Can you speak any other languages?

Not yet but, Jared is working on his Spanish.


If you see Mo or Jared around the watershed be sure to say hi and welcome! You can be sure to see them at some of our upcoming events.


Stream Sweep

Last Sunday, October 5th, NMRWA hosted our Fall Stream Sweep! We changed things up a bit this year with our Stream Sweeps. In order to give more people the opportunity to join us for this event, we hosted two Stream Sweeps, one in the Spring on Saturday and one in the Fall on Sunday. We had great turn out for both and we really appreciate everyone who joined us to clean up the stream!

The Fall Stream Sweep started out a bit chilly but that didn’t scare off our volunteers! About 20 people joined us Sunday morning in Frick Park. After an introduction to NMRWA and the event, we filled up on some bagels and coffee and were on our way. Our volunteers spread out throughout the stream and began collecting as much trash as they could. With the recent rain storms, a lot of trash and flowed downstream from all over the watershed. Participants found a car tire, a skateboard, a phone charger and many aluminum cans. You never know what you will find during a Stream Sweep!

After a few hours of collecting, our volunteers produced about 40 bags of trash! That is impressive as, just a few hours earlier, we were trying to adjust to the colder temperatures in Pittsburgh. We always greatly appreciate everyone who joins us for our Stream Sweeps. It is an important task to remove trash that could harm the stream. In the process, we make the park and the stream a more enjoyable place for everyone.

A special thanks to Bruegger’s Bagels in Squirrel Hill and Coffee Tree Roasters in Squirrel Hill for their generous donations to our Fall Stream Sweep.


Community Events

Many of our partner organizations and neighborhoods throughout the watershed are busy with upcoming events! We will start to feature these events with a bi-montly Community Events feature on this blog. Check out what is happening around the watershed below!




WILKINSBURG, PA, October 2, 2014 – In 1919, Frank Conrad, an electrical engineer and radio broadcasting pioneer, initiated a series of early radio broadcasts from his Wilkinsburg garage. Through his early radio work, Conrad became responsible for founding KDKA, the first licensed broadcast station in the world. In addition to his radio broadcasting, Conrad worked as the Assistant Chief Engineer for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Pittsburgh. Conrad received the prestigious Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Edison Medal in 1930 and was awarded more than 200 patents throughout his life. He died in 1941 at the age of 67.

On Friday, October 17, 2014, beginning at 2 p.m. at Community Life (301 Meade St.), together with the National Museum of Broadcasting (NMB), the WCDC will honor the life and achievements of Frank Conrad by re-dedicating a Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission marker at the corner of South Trenton Avenue and Penn Avenue—one block east of the former location of Conrad’s garage. The dedication will also celebrate the 95th anniversary of Conrad’s first broadcast out of his Wilkinsburg garage—October 17, 1919.

Learn more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2014/09/25/Wilkinsburg-ceremony-to-commemorate-wireless-broadcast/stories/201409250020

Halloween Party

The Halloween Party for the residents of Wilkinsburg is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2014
The Halloween Parade will start at 5 pm to 5:30 pm with all the ghouls, ghosts and goblins returning to the Borough Library Meeting Room on the 3rd floor to continue the festivities until the bewitching hour of 8 pm


Regent Square

Join the Regent Square Civic Association, in partnership with the Wilkins School Community Center, and make your own scarecrow to put on your porch or to donate to display along S. Braddock Avenue’s business district.

When:   Saturday, October 11th as part of the ECOFEST 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Where:   The Wilkins School Community Center
Cost:      FREE


Tree Pittsburgh

Book Launch
Join Tree Pittsburgh at their book launch party! Tree Pittsburgh’s children’s book, If We Were To Plant A Tree, is here and they are celebrating with a party and everyone’s invited.

Thursday, October 23
4:30-6:30 p.m.
Carnegie Lecture Hall
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

They’ll have refreshments and children’s activities, as well as an art exhibit of student-created work. You’ll also get the chance to meet author Dar and listen to special guest Vanessa German read If We Were to Plant A Tree. Stick around after the reading to plant a tree with Daniel the Tiger!

For more information or to RSVP for this free event, visit http://bit.ly/treepghbooklaunch.

Tree ID Walk
Saturday, October 11
9:00 a.m.
Meeting point to be determined before the event


Today’s blog post comes from the Clean Rivers Campaign – an education & advocacy program designed to raise awareness of the stormwater runoff and sewage overflow issues in Allegheny County. NMRWA is one of the CRC’s six founding organizations. Last weekend, NMRWA staff participated in the Clean Rivers Campaign’s walking tour in Millvale which is chronicled below.

Millvale Neighborhood Eco Walking Tour

Last weekend, we ended our walking tour series, where it began, in Millvale. Participants joined us Saturday morning to revisit a few projects as well as learn about new ones Millvale has implemented.

In April, we kicked off our walking tour series in Millvale. At only 0.65 square miles and a population of 3,700, the amount of green infrastructure in Millvale was impressive and they have added to that list since. In recent history, the community has installed several rain gardens, an urban farm and community gardens.

You can read about our first walking tour in Millvale, in the blog post from that tour, here.

Brian shows off the rain garden and rain barrels in the backyard of the library.

Brian shows off the rain garden and rain barrels in the backyard of the library.

Our tour began at the Millvale community library. The April tour visited the expansive rain garden and several rain barrels the library has in its yard. During our September tour, we also learned about how the library has added solar panels to its roof. Now, it receives all of its energy from the panels. Brian Wolovich, from Millvale Council, joined us here. Brian was integral to making the library what it is today as well as spearheading many other green initiatives around town. The library is very much a community amenity for Millvale and it was a community effort to build the building. With the library’s green infrastructure, the community continues to benefit as the rain barrels and rain garden have collected rain water before it can enter the sewer system and cause flooding. Many in Millvale have experienced the devastating effects of flooding but they have also seen that green infrastructure can be a solution to this problem.

Next, we headed to the urban farm in Millvale and met up with Tom, a resident of

Farmer Tom shows off his urban farm.

Farmer Tom shows off his urban farm.

Millvale who created and continues to manage the farm.

Tom’s farm is active with an array of vegetables and a busy bee hive. The produce of Tom’s farm is sold at the local farmer’s market. Tom also organizes events related to the farm including a workshop on how to make sauerkraut from cabbage grown on the farm. During our tour, Tom shared garlic he had grown with the participants. Some planned on replanting the herb in their own garden. Tom works with the rain to maintain his farm, allowing his plants to absorb any rain that falls. If he experiences a dry season, Tom also has two rain barrels attached to his house which he can use to water the plants when necessary.

From the farm, the tour headed to the community gardens in Millvale. Mandy Wolovich, co-chair of the gardens, met us to explain how the community works to maintain the gardens. Several raised beds cover a former empty lot in Millvale. Community members rent a portion of a raised bed to plant and maintain. Across the street from the gardens is an orchard. Since our April tour, the community gardens group added a greenhouse to the grounds. They hope to grow winter vegetables inside.

Next, we headed to the rain garden in Millvale’s municipal parking lot. After visiting

The group checks out the rain garden in a municipal parking lot in Millvale.

The group checks out the rain garden in a municipal parking lot in Millvale.

this site in April, it was great to see the garden during a different season as the plants had grown. At each rain garden we visited, residents of Millvale commented they have never seen the gardens overflow and that within a few hours the rain water is absorbed into the ground, an indication of the garden working efficiently and accomplishing its goal.

Finally, the tour headed back to Grant Ave (with a detour at the bakery of course!) for a new stop. Brian Wolovich joined us again to describe an exciting new project for the borough, the Millvale Town Square and Grange. The community recently purchased a building formerly inhabited by a furniture store. They plan to expand on the community amenity that is the farmer’s market while offering new opportunities to residents. Through some rehabilitation of the building, the farmer’s market will expand, residents will have greater access to food and office space will become available on the upper floors. Plans for the building include offering classes on urban agriculture.

Brian Wolovich shows off the future site of the Millvale Town Square and Grange project.

Brian Wolovich shows off the future site of the Millvale Town Square and Grange project.

An optional stop on the tour was Mt Alvernia. A former high school and current residence for Sisters of St. Francis, Mt. Alvernia sits atop a hill in Millvale. Last year, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and TreeVitalize worked with the Sisters to install two bioswales on the campus. Today, a bioswale runs along Hawthrone Ave. It is one of the largest in the region. A second lies in the parking lot of the campus. Those on the tour, who were interested, joined us at Mt. Alvernia to meet Marah Vecenie. Marah works for TreeVitalize and was integral to creating and installing the bioswales. Now she coordinates their monitoring and maintenance. Like the rain gardens throughout Millvale, the Sisters and TreeVitalize have seen the efficiency of the bioswales during rain storms, witnessing that they never overflow and quickly absorb the water. The location of these bioswales was strategic. Hawthrone Road is quite steep and intersects with a major road in Millvale. Helping to mitigate flooding on this road benefits the whole community. In addition, the bioswale located in the parking lot also sits at the bottom of a hill and has significant water flow in its direction.

It was great for us to end our tour in Millvale. We are very excited for all that they have

accomplished and what they have planned. Thank you to everyone who joined us on our walking tour series. We enjoyed meeting all of you in the community and experiencing these projects together. Our goal was to give anyone and everyone the opportunity to see firsthand how green infrastructure works and how it can benefit a community. We hope our participants learned something new about green infrastructure and can take that knowledge back to their own community.

Marah Vecenie of TreeVitalize shares the story of installing bioswales at Mt. Alvernia.

Marah Vecenie of TreeVitalize shares the story of installing bioswales at Mt. Alvernia.


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