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.
Maranda Nemeth cleaning up debris
OBB students picking up trash
OBB student clearing weeds with weed whacker
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.
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.
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.
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!
Using probeware to collect water quality information.
A lunchtime friend!
One name for this unique plant we found is bear corn!
Learning about CSOs.
Mike explaining the importance of biodiversity in forests.
Earlier this month NMRWA staff travelled to Scottdale, PA for a staff development day. Scottdale is home to the Jacobs Creek Watershed Association. We met Annie Quinn, the Executive Director of the watershed association. The association is young but has accomplished quite a lot. Annie showed us around town to the various projects Jacobs Creek has created and led.
First, we visited the downtown Scottdale area where Jacobs Creek has created several green infrastructure projects. In downtown, every pedestrian crosswalk is made from pervious pavement. This allows water to flow through the ground and is also more visible to drivers. Along several of the streets, rain gardens line the sidewalks. Curb cuts allow the water to flow into the rain garden and any excess water can flow out.
Additional pervious pavement and rain gardens are located throughout the downtown area. One particular rain garden is located next to a government building which was experiencing severe flooding during rain events. Jacobs Creek worked to situate the rain garden at the correct spot to mitigate the water. The building sits at the bottom of a parking lot which was causing the rainwater to flow directly to the building. In addition to the rain garden, Jacobs Creek created levels of the parking lot. At three points in the lot, street trees and pervious pavement were installed. This allows rainwater to infiltrate in three different locations. Any rainwater that is not captured at these points will continue to flow into the rain garden at the end of the lot. Thanks to all of these measures, the government building no longer experiences flooding.
Jacobs Creek continued with green infrastructure projects at the local middle school. With a large campus, the school was also experiencing problems from stormwater runoff. The watershed association worked with the school to create a large rain garden on the school grounds. The garden has served as green infrastructure but also as a unique teaching tool for teachers.
Our last stop was at a mobile home park in town. This area had also suffered from flooding. In particular, one woman was receiving runoff from the entire park into her house. Jacobs Creek created and planned several green infrastructure projects to absorb the stormwater on this property. During our trip, it was still under construction but a system of drains and pervious pavement will soon address stormwater in this area.
The number of projects in Scottdale was quite impressive. We learned a lot from the process and ideas of Jacobs Creek. We are excited for the future projects and success. We are grateful to Annie for showing us around and teaching us so much. We are excited to show her around the Nine Mile Run Watershed soon!
Welcome to Scottdale!
A rain garden in a large parking lot in town.
The rain garden that was created to mitigate flooding for a government building.
A street tree in the parking lot above the government building.
A rain garden by the gazebo in town.
The gazebo is now home to several green infrastructure projects including a rain garden and pervious pavement which surrounds the gazebo.
The permeable pavement that fills the crosswalks in downtown Scottdale.
Another view of the rain garden by the gazebo.
A closer look at the rain gardens in town.
The large rain garden on the campus of the local school.
A beautiful break for lunch!
A part of the drain system that is being constructed at the mobile home park.
For the past two years, NMRWA has been working with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC) to increase the environmental stewardship capacity of our watershed community. Funding for this work was provided by a grant received from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program. Maybe you read about this in our recently released Spring newsletter?
Yesterday, as a part this program, NMRWA staff co-led a training workshop for Urban EcoStewards on streamflow monitoring in Nine Mile Run. Along with Sarah Lavin, a graduate student in the Department of Geology and Planetary Science at the University of Pittsburgh, Sara Powell & Paul Yanulavich spent a sunny Sunday morning working with eight volunteers to measure streamflow and take cross-section measurements of the stream.
Sarah shows the group the pressure transducer that is used to measure the height of the stream.
Setting up a rotary laser level – part of the equipment used to measure the stream channel geometry.
It is important for us to understand streamflow patterns and how the stream channel is changing in Nine Mile Run, both for continued restoration efforts in Frick Park (e.g., erosion remediation), and also so we can assess how well management efforts in the upper watershed (e.g., green stormwater infrastructure, rain barrels) are reducing excess stormwater flows into the stream.
Unfortunately, continuous monitoring of discharge (the volume of water flowing through the stream during a unit of time) is complex and expensive. Instead, since last summer, we have been working with Urban EcoSteward (UES) volunteers to help us collect data that will allow us to create something called a stage-discharge rating curve.
This curve will allow us to ‘reconstruct’ a continuous discharge record – giving us a much better understanding of streamflow in Nine Mile Run!
So, at Sunday’s training, we demonstrated how UES volunteers can measure the stream’s velocity and cross-sectional area – two critical pieces to calculating discharge. We then used similar methods to measure the stream channel geometry.
Using a receiver mounted on an extendable measuring stick to get precise measurements of the stream channel geometry.
Everyone took a turn taking a measurement along the transect.
Urban EcoSteward Dave Carr gives the group some tips on identifying poison hemlock – an invasive plant that we definitely want to remove from the restoration area!
The geometry of the channel is also important to understand, because storms can cause large volumes of water to surge rapidly through Nine Mile Run, changing the stream channel shape very quickly. These changes, whether they are due to erosion or damage to built rock features, put our restoration efforts at risk. Regular cross-section measurements will allow us to look at how the shape of the stream channel is changing over time, and to apply necessary management efforts as needed.
Thank you so much to all the Urban EcoStewards and interested volunteers for coming out on Sunday! We will be posting more photos from the day on our Facebook page, so make sure to check them out!
If you are interested in becoming an Urban EcoSteward, click here for more information or contact Paul at .