Students Plant Ahead For a Rainy Day…

IMG_0711Farmington River Watershed Association successfully completed another buffer planting in 2011, however this project was like no other buffer planting we have done.  From the beginning, we knew that this project was going to be a little bit different. REI employees at the West Hartford store invited us to apply to their small grants program with a project that includes volunteers, stewardship, and conservation. In response, we chose to design and plant a beautiful demonstration rain garden in the Still River Watershed, Winsted. As you may know from our Water Quality Reports, the Still River (which runs through Winsted) is one of the more impaired tributaries of the Farmington Watershed. FRWA was at that time studying outfalls leading into the Still River and trying to discover pollution sources. We thought it would be important to have a project that improves water quality along the Still.

We were thrilled when REI approved our grant. We found our volunteers from a likely source, the local community college: Northwest Connecticut Community College (NCCC). IMG_0945 croppedBut even better than that, we were able to work with the Spring 2011 Botany class. In collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), North Central Conservation District (NCCD), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), we taught the students about FRWA’s mission and water quality monitoring, the importance of streamside vegetation, native plants, invasive plants, and soil and site characteristics.

Following our lectures, the students conducted independent research on native plants, suggested plants to include in the project, contributed to the rain garden and buffer design, and worked with us to install the rain garden. The students loved the “real-world” approach to their botany course, and FRWA enjoyed the educational and community building opportunity, in addition to improving the habitat of the Still River.

We thank our project partners for their help and cooperation: Tara Jo Holmberg and her 2011 Botany Students (NCCC), Ruth Klue (NCCD), Vivian Felton (USDA/NRCS), Lisa Krall (USDA/NRCS), and Charlotte Pyle (USDA/NRCS). And most of all, FRWA thanks REI for the project funding! … And You Can Do This, Too!

Click here to download FRWA’s brochure on buffer plantings.