On Saturday, June 27, the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance collaborated with Springvale Nursery to present a program entitled “Landscaping for Healthy Lakes” to local residents. The workshop included an indoor lecture phase and an outdoor, “hands on” phase. Executive Director, Linda Schier, of AWWA gave a brief history of AWWA and explained its mission of protecting and improving the water quality in our regional water bodies. Project Manager, Sam Wilson, then explained the techniques used by AWWA’s Youth Conservation Corps which are called Best Management Practices (BMPS). These techniques control storm water and cause it to infiltrate into the ground rather than rush into the lakes, ponds and streams carrying surface pollutants such as soil, oil, pet or farm animal waste, and agricultural chemicals and, thereby, reducing the quality of the water.
Special attention was given to building rain gardens, dripline trenches and the use of rip rap (large crushed rocks) to slow down water and infiltrate it into the ground where it is naturally cleansed before it enters our water table or water body.
This was a perfect opportunity for Michelle Martin of Springvale Nursery in Sanford to educate the audience about what kind of plants to use to supplement the installation of BMPS. Michelle stressed the benefit of choosing native or native-improved plants to include in lakeside, riverside or streamside locations. These plants tend to be hardy and require less care than more exotic nursery selections, and can be very beneficial for homeowners who are usually more interested in relaxing and enjoying the recreational value of their properties than having to tend to fussy landscaping installations. The plants recommended by Ms. Martin were especially selected for their ability to be suitable for sun and shade, dry and sometimes wet locations. She brought samples of her most recommended plants which included day lilies, ilex winterberry, Nannyberry Viburnum and Dwarf Native Honeysuckle.
After a snack break, everyone went outside of the Greater Wakefield Resource Center on Main Street in Union, NH, for the “hands on” phase of the day’s activities. Sam demonstrated how to safely use the tools and then presented the plans for installing a dripline trench in front of the building, a channel for directing the water into a rain garden, and the rain garden itself. Workshop attendees were invited to work alongside members of the YCC crew and many took advantage of the opportunity to wield a shovel or a pickax and dig in.
Other “hands on” activities which were situated outside on the premises were a display of live macroinvertebrates collected from the nearby Branch River. Linda Schier helped those attending to identify such denizens as Dragonfly, Mayfly, and Stonefly nymphs, Caddisfly and Helgremite larvae (which become Dobsonflies and are very sensitive to pollution) and Whirlygig Beetles. At a nearby table, Jeanne Achille displayed and discussed the various aquatic plants which typically grow in local water bodies. The native plants included Pickerel Weed, Bladderwort, Large Leaf Pondweed, Watershield and Spatterdock. Of particular interest to the group was the Variable Water Milfoil, collected from a lake in Dover, which is an invasive plant and can totally take over a water body making it impossible to use for swimming, fishing and other recreational activities. Although it has infested some lakes in New Hampshire and Maine, lake associations and other organizations are working hard to prevent its spread, while those infested are spending thousands of dollars per year to try to control it.
After a hardy lunch, some of the audience remained to help the crew finish installing the BMPs. The storm on Sunday was timely as it presented a test of the efficacy of all this hard work. Special thanks must be extended to the YCC Crew Leaders Jordan Sheperd and Seth Fogg, with Crew member Dan Crowley, and intern Kaitlin Carr. With the beginning of a new YCC season, this workshop is a great reminder to local waterfront homeowners to call Sam Wilson at 603-473-2500 to have their property evaluated for erosion issues and obtain a free Technical Assistance Plan and perhaps become a Project Host. Every BMP installed prevents phosphorus from entering the water and protects water quality. The YCC is funded by grants and individual donations, which allows the crew to work on properties at no cost to the homeowner who pays only for the materials. Don’t delay, be a good lake steward and call Sam today!