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Nine Mile Run blog

30
Jun

Our 1st annual Bike Tour and Block Party this past June was a success!  NMRWA had 63 riders tour along the 9 mile bike tour route through the watershed on a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon.  Riders up! -Bruce Woods and 9 other members of The Major Taylor Cycling Club supported the ride by marshalling everyone safely through intersections and busy streets.  Karen Brooks, a board member of Bike Pittsburgh and longtime NMRWA member and watershed resident also coordinated the safety and logistics of the route.  These expert bike riders truly kept us safe and riding smoothly through our urban watershed.

Along the route, various rainwater management initiatives that NMRWA has pioneered were showcased by our staff members, Jared and Sara.  While visiting the Rosedale Runoff Reduction Project in Homewood, NMRWA’s first large-scale community green infrastructure development project, the group got to hear from the engineer, Barton Kirk of Ethos Collaborative. From Homewood, the tour was led through Wilkinsburg, Edgewood, Swissvale, and Swisshelm Park.  The route even looped through lower Frick Park to explore the Nine Mile Run stream restoration.  The group was able to truly come full circle since the stream is the waterway where every drop of rainwater (and sometimes even sewage) flows to in the watershed.

The last stop was at a private residence to showcase at-home stormwater management possibilities, all designed and installed by Stormworks. The bike tour weaved all throughout the watershed and exposed the stormwater issues the neighborhoods are facing but also how NMRWA is working directly with the community to implement holistic stormwater management to improve the vitality of the urban environment and ultimately, the Nine Mile Run stream.

The bike tour arrived to the jammin’ block party around 3pm to be greeted with delicious Leona’s ice cream sandwiches, treats that are made right in the watershed community of Wilkinsburg!  Riders were also able to cool down with fresh lemonade, provided by Biddle’s Escape.  The upbeat tunes from the live music of Timbeleza filled the air as riders refueled with yummy pizzas from Proper Brick Oven and danced to the beat.  Wigle Whiskey was handing out free tastes of whiskey made from scratch right down in the Strip District.  Nate Levi, a watershed resident of Edgewood, also kept the party happy with free smiles and ice-cold beers from Green Flash Brewery.  All in all, a sunny and fun Saturday afternoon.  NMRWA thanks everyone that rode on the bike tour and enjoyed themselves at the block party!

See all of the Bike Tour & Block Party pics in our Facebook photo album.

The success of this event was made possible with support from: The Sprout FundBiddle’s EscapeWESAWYEPWilkinsburg Chamber of CommerceWilkinsburg Community Development CorporationCompass Self StorageKindred CyclesFreeRideHealthyRide, Bike PittsburghSci-TekPort Authority of Allegheny County, Michael Baker International, James Street Flower & Gift Shoppe, The Major Taylor Cycling Club, the Borough of Wilkinsburg.

Save the date to continue our 15th year celebration! Come and “Sip for the Stream” on Friday, September 30th from 6pm-9pm at Wigle Whiskey’s Barrelhouse and Whiskey Garden on 1055 Spring Garden Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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01
Jun

As we are heading into summer we wanted to provide a recap of all of our spring activity. It was a busy season of throwing fundraisers, tending to trees, and stewarding the watershed!

Fundraisers

To kick off our 15th anniversary celebration, we held two new and different fundraisers. The first event took place in March at Butterjoint, an upscale tavern in Oakland. From 4pm to midnight, we enjoyed “Nine Mile Rum” cocktails, snacked on loaded fries, and showed off our Hydra rain barrel (which we managed to fit in the back of the restaurant)! With Butterjoint’s generous help we were able to raise over $1000!

In April, our friends and supporters descended on Franktuary to enjoy the featured drink, “Nine Mule Run”, and special dish, “Dog with the (Storm)Works”, and a slideshow of NMR events, as well as NMR merchandise for sale. Within just a few hours we raised a couple hundred dollars and enjoyed many tasty dogs.

 

Stewardship

This spring we worked with 175 volunteers to remove 167 bags of trash and 26 tires from the stream and upper watershed communities!  These volunteers also removed 400 square feet of invasive species and planted 600 seeds of native milkweed plants in the stream and wetlands restoration area.

Urban Forestry

June is here and warmer weather has arrived. Although this spring was not a major planting season for us, we were able to prep 128 trees for the summer growing season working with various volunteer groups.  Our prep included removing vegetation from the area around the trees  and adding mulch when needed.  This helps reduce competition for resources, keeps grass cutting machines away from the trunks, and helps retain spring soil moisture a bit longer into the summer.

In April, we worked with volunteers at three tree care events in Wilkinsburg.  We worked with Job Corps students, our watershed tree tenders, and our other awesome volunteers.  On the final Saturday of April, volunteers helped put the finishing touches on part 1 of our pit expansion project.  We installed 30 perennial plants adjacent to the East Busway along Edgewood Avenue in Swissvale.  We look forward to watching these new plants grow!

In May, we worked with area youth to prep tree pits.  We joined Pittsburgh Urban Christian School students during their neighborhood clean up day to prep the tree pits around their school and in a favorite play space, Ferguson Park.  Two weeks later, under the white blooms of hawthorns, Wilkinsburg Boys and Girls Club helped us weed and mulch the tree pits in a Borough parking lot.  This work was in preparation for Wilkinsburg’s Thursday Open Market, which opens for the summer on June 16.  Finally, we returned to Kelly Elementary School to educate the fifth and sixth graders about the Nine Mile Run Watershed and how trees help us with our mission.  Then we set off to mulch around 50 young trees which we planted on their campus three years ago as part of the Wilkinsburg TreeVitalize 500 Trees project. This summer, we will be out and about in the watershed taking care of tree pits as well as watering newly planted trees.

So what’s coming up next?

We have two exciting events coming up this month! On June 4th we’re heading out bright and early to go birding and have breakfast in Frick Park. Then, on June 11th, we host our first ever Bike Tour & Block Party! Each event is $25 per attendee, but free to all NMRWA members. Not a member yet? Join us at ninemilerun.org/donate.

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28
Apr

New Tree Pits

rosedale st tree

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!

04
Apr

Clean Rivers Campaign LogoOver the last five years, we have worked diligently as part of the Clean Rivers Campaign (CRC) to mobilize ALCOSAN ratepayers, generate media coverage and key stakeholder engagement to change our region’s plan to comply with the US EPA Consent Decree for Western PA (which requires a drastic reduction in sewer overflows into our waterways) to one that recognizes the importance of climate resilient and sustainable 21st-century solutions.  Because of the work of the CRC, our regional dialogue on this issue now focuses on how to maximize green infrastructure to capture rain where it falls and improve water quality, while rebuilding blighted neighborhoods and producing essential community benefits.

EPA logo

In January 2016, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor Bill Peduto (with the support of ALCOSAN) sent a letter to the US EPA, US Department of Justice, and PA Department of Environmental Protection calling on them to allow a “green-first, green-preferred” adaptive management approach to Consent Decree compliance. On March 9th, the EPA sent a positive response, indicating that the regulators are willing to modify the Consent Decree to allow “a consequential change in direction”, including an extended timeline.

This is a huge win for our region that could not have happened without our CRC supporters. Thanks to all of you who endorsed the campaign, attended or testified at public meetings, wrote letters to the editor, contacted your representatives, or in any other way made known your desire for a sustainable solution.

How you can stay informed on this issue:

We must now ensure that a transformative sustainable plan will be implemented; the EPA is allowing us the space and time to accomplish this, but it is still up to our sewer authority to take advantage of this opportunity. To keep up to date on new developments, sign-up for CRC e-news and alerts.

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03
Mar

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.

Hello!

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.

Eric helps sample water in Nine Mile Run

Eric helps sample water in Nine Mile Run

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!

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