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!
On a chilly Saturday morning in Swissvale, NMR staff and volunteers set out to plant a dozen trees in and around the Universal Academy of Pittsburgh. After enjoying hot coffee generously provided by Coffee Tree Roasters in Squirrel Hill, NMRWA’s very own tree expert, Jared Manzo, demonstrated the intricate process of preparing and planting young trees. Once trained, the volunteers and staff broke into teams to plant on the Academy grounds and on Hampton and Columbia Avenues.
The teams worked cooperatively to snugly plant each tree individually. This involved cutting twine off of the bundled branches, positioning the trees in the pits, and staking for support. Planting a tree is hard and diligent work but the volunteers rose to the task enthusiastically. By noon we were able to plant 12 trees which included Eastern white pine, tulip poplar, hophornbeam, and hawthorn.
Once the work was done and the teams returned to the Academy to enjoy a tasty lunch donated by Al’s Fish and Chicken and Veltre’s Pizza. The conversations continued as everyone basked in their hard work. The principal of the Academy, Ibrahim Yousef, and Al Aqra, Academy board member and owner of Al’s, expressed deep gratitude for the hard work from the volunteers. These 12 trees at the Academy and surrounding streets will be enjoyed by the generations of the school and neighborhood to come.
UPDATE (7/14/16) – We received the following message from Al Aqra, board member of the Universal Academy of Pittsburgh:
Nine Mile Run Watershed Association is leaving a great impact in the East End of Pittsburgh. NMRWA has been planting hundreds of trees in the watershed area where it had changed the landscape. On the 14th of November NMRWA and volunteers came to Universal Academy of Pittsburgh and planted 6 trees which will help with water preservation, beautify the school grounds, provide shade in the hot summer days, and add a colorful background to our school.
A tree planting event is such an educational opportunity to learn about Nine Mile Run, different types of trees, and a quick tutorial on how to plant and care for trees. Trees are very important part of our environment, landscape, and ecosystem, that’s why, we should plant more and care for existing ones.
On behalf on the Universal Academy of Pittsburgh’s community, parents, staff, students, and board of directors I would like to thank Nine Mile Run Watershed Association for their great work for the community and the environment. We look forward to working with Nine Mile Run Watershed Association on future possibilities such as Rain Gardens, Rainwater Management, and Educational opportunities for our students.
Board of Directors
Universal Academy of Pittsburgh
Bright and early on a crisp Sunday morning, Jared Manzo, NMRWA’s GreenLinks Coordinator, guided participants on a tree identification walk through the lower section of Nine Mile Run. With rubber boots required, the first half of the walk traveled in or along the stream itself where no official trail exists.
Several species of trees were highlighted along the stream such as American sycamore, black willow, honey locust, silver maple, boxelder, common hackberry, and hardy catalpa. In a small patch of changing sugar maple, Jared explained what triggers dormancy in trees, the chemicals that produce fall color, and why leaves change color at all with the onset of dormancy.
Before moving back up to the Nine Mile Run Trail, Maranda Nemeth, NMRWA’s Restoration Stewardship Coordinator, took a moment to discuss a project along the run to allow fish to move further up stream. We returned to our starting point on Commercial Avenue by jumping onto the Nine Mile Run Trail. Some interesting species noted along the trail were staghorn sumac, black birch, sassafras, black gum, and bitternut hickory.
Overall, twenty-one tree species were identified. Tree identification focused on the most recognizable features of a given species to help distinguish it in the future. Leaf arrangement, simple leaves versus compound leaves, and the definition of a twig were discussed as well. Hot apple cider and muffins were great snacks given the chillier than usual October morning.
If you are interested in tree identification, look out for walks in 2016 with NMRWA or Tree Pittsburgh! You can get started yourself by getting a guide such as Tree Finder: A Manual for Identification of Trees by Their Leaves or downloading Virginia Tech Tree ID app for your iPhone or Android device.
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.
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 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.
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.
Today’s post comes from the Green Building Alliance (GBA). GBA is the regional chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, and works to inspire the creation of healthy, high-performance places for everyone by providing leadership that connects knowledge, transformative ideas, and collaborative action. GBA has an Emerging Professionals committee that enables like-minded sustainability professionals to be a force for progress within their communities by providing a forum for networking and education.
One of GBA’s Emerging Professionals is Christi Saunders – a virtual construction engineer for Mascaro Construction. She wrote today’s post about her experience volunteering in Frick Park as an Urban EcoSteward. Thank you to Christi & GBA for this guest blog post!
I live in Regent Square and have spent much time in Frick Park, either running, walking the dog, or playing tennis. I have always enjoyed my time in Frick Park because it feels like I’ve have been transported out of the city to the Middle of Nowhere, PA. Its calm, quiet, and beautiful.
Through living in Regent Square and my involvement with the Emerging Professionals at Green Building Alliance, I learned about the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association. NMRWA is involved in the cleanup and maintenance of the Nine Mile Run watershed, which includes Frick Park and parts of Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh, Swissvale, and Edgewood. In all of the time I had spent in Frick Park, I had never considered how the park was maintained. I guess I just assumed that the city and the Parks Conservancy maintained the grounds, which in fact they do – they cut grass address fallen trees, service the restroom facilities, maintain the trails, etc. Other major maintenance activities in the park like collecting trash, removing invasive species, and planting new species, however, is actually accomplished through a volunteer program called Urban EcoStewards, which is managed by NMRWA and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.
Since I love Frick Park so much, I was eager to do my part to help maintain its great quality so others can enjoy it as much as I do. I brought the idea of joining the EcoStewards program to GBA’s Emerging Professionals group and we all agreed to take on the project. We have since been assigned a project site in Frick Park that is near the Edgewood/Swissvale on-ramp to the parkway. We started maintaining the site last fall mostly by removing English Ivy, an invasive species that tends to grow everywhere.
We returned to the project this spring, but we wanted to do more than just remove English Ivy. So Tom Cosgro and I attended a Spring Invasive Species training class that was held by NMRWA and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. We learned new species to identify and whether or not they need to be removed from the site. I also talked with NMRWA about what native species we could plant at our site. Two weeks before our spring cleanup day, I headed out and purchased a few bushes and several smaller flowering milkweed plants.
On our spring cleanup day this year, we began by removing several different types of invasive species including Garlic Mustard and Goutweed. Everyone noticed right away the lack of English Ivy, which made us feel accomplished since we knew that our last project had actually made an impact.
After an hour or so, the sky started to look darker so we decided to wrap it up by planting the natives that I had brought. As we began to dig holes for the bushes, the sky opened up and it poured down rain. We debated making a break for the cars but there was no time. We all jumped into the trees and found as much shelter as we could. The pouring rain only lasted about 10-15 minutes but it was enough that we all ended up soaked.
After the rain, we went on to plant a Button Bush, a Spice Bush, and a few Milkweed plants, which attract numerous species of butterflies. After that, we cleaned up and headed back towards Regent Square. We all enjoyed an ice cold beer and laughed about being so wet. Hopefully at the next EcoStewards day we will see our native plants flourishing along the trail in Frick Park. And if you haven’t explored this wonderful park yet, you have to check it out!