River Hill Watershed Committee Gets $7,820 Grant

The Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) has awarded the River Hill Watershed Committee $7,820. We need you to help us spend it.
The CBT received requests totaling more than $2.3 million for its Outreach and Restoration Grant program but had only $1.3 million available, so the RH Watershed Committee is very grateful and fortunate to receive the grant.
The funding comes entirely from Howard County’s Stormwater Solutions program, which is part of a federal mandate to clean up stormwater runoff that travels downstream to the Chesapeake Bay. Howard County and other jurisdictions previously had voluntary programs, but those efforts had always fallen short of what was needed to improve water quality in our watershed. Howard County asked the CBT to administer its grant program this year. So, the River Hill Watershed Committee’s work, within the Lower Middle Patuxent watershed, is part of this much larger effort to clean up after ourselves. All the projects will be added to the Howard County Streammapper App in order to track projects close to Howard County waterways.
The committee is still working with the CBT to finalize the projects, but the chief contenders are:
•Rain gardens: Rain gardens are strategically located bowl-shaped depressions in the ground filled with native plants. Polluted runoff from parking lots, roads, roofs and other hard surfaces soaks into the rain garden instead of heading directly for storm drains. We plan to buy plants, compost and other materials for at least two rain gardens. Possible locations include Clarksville Middle School and near the community center at the River Hill outdoor pool. We are also always open to community suggestions for projects. Send ideas to us at newsletter@villageofriverhill.org.

•Pull & plant events: Twice a year, we select an area to clear aggressive invasive plants and replace them with natives. We plan to use some of the grant to purchase native plants, which are more resistant to drought, freezing and diseases, and, once established, require less water, less fertilizer, fewer pesticides and other maintenance than non-natives. These plants –including Joe Pye weed, creeping phlox, witch-hazel, golden ragwort, sensitive fern and redbud trees – support local bees, butterflies and other pollinators and attract beneficial insects that are food for native birds.
•Education and community outreach: Our stream cleanups and community seminars, planting days and monthly tips, displays and Facebook posts are all designed to show how each of us can improve the health of our watershed – and, by extension, our own health. We’ll use part of the grant money to buy more black-eyed Susan seeds to distribute at the July 4 parade. Planting seeds of our state flower is an easy way for young children to become involved in improving our watershed.
These projects are where YOU come in. For starters, we always need volunteers for our projects. (Please “Like” the River Hill Watershed Committee on Facebook to get updates.) Families are welcome at our events, and students can earn community service hours. In addition, our goal is to engage the community and draw attention to practices and projects that create healthy watersheds. We hope our planting areas will inspire homeowners to replace portions of expansive lawns with landscaping or rain gardens that use native groundcovers, trees, shrubs, and flowers. By changing our perspectives about what constitutes the “perfect” yard and community spaces, we can all help slow runoff and clean up our watershed.
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