Watershed stewards install Fair Hill rain garden
— People passing the Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area’s Edward Walls Activity Hall will now see a new addition: a recently installed rain garden.
The garden, the product of three days of work, will aid in filtering rain water that falls off the activity center’s roof and decreasing pollution and sediment running into the Big Elk Creek, said Jennifer Didinger, an extension agent with the University of Maryland’s college of agriculture and natural resources.
The WSA class project included a partnership between Cecil County’s Watershed Steward Academy, Fair Hill State Park and the county’s Department of Public Works.
Didinger said the WSA students, Fair Hill State Park employees, DPW employees, and UMD extension agents were out at the site from Thursday to Saturday to help with the project. Crews had to excavate the area, plot the garden, build a berm to contain rain water and plant native species in the garden.
Dindinger said the garden only has native species because they are better suited for the weather, create habi- tats for local animals and do not push out other species like invasive species tend to do. The garden includes native species such as blackeyed Susans, red-twig dogwood and marsh marigold.
The funding for the project came from the county budget along with donations, said Marshall McSorley, a county sediment and stormwater resource inspector and Watershed Steward Academy coordinator.
“I think it’s great,” said Eric Buehl, an extension agent with UMD’s college of agriculture and natural resources, of the project because the location is “perfect” with high visibility from the road.
“I’m very excited to see how it aids in the stormwater control,” said Rachel Temby, Fair Hill park manager.
She said WSA students are responsible for the maintenance of the garden for the first year and after that the NRMA will take over maintenance duties. Temby said Fair Hill is looking forward to participating in more projects with the WSA.
The students are also excited about the outcome of the project.
“I’m so proud Cecil County is doing something this progressive,” Jordane Wiseman, a Chesapeake City resident and WSA student, said.
Wiseman said the county is “environmentally progressive” because the county is taking steps to help the environment rather than waiting until the problem can be solved.
“I think it’s a great step,” she said.
Wiseman said the most valuable thing she’s learned during her time with the academy are the technical skills to build the garden. Wiseman said it is not the same as looking up videos on YouTube, because she has opportunities to have hands-on experience with the class.
Randy Pritchett, another WSA student, said this the first time he’s planted a rain garden. In the class, he has learned how important it is to filter and keep the water clean. He said he and fellow student Jason Taylor, his manager at the county’s wastewater treatment plant, plan to install a rain garden on the premises sometime within the next couple of months.
The next step for the students are to complete their individual capstone projects before they graduate from the WSA program in December.
Marshall McSorely, a county sediment and stormwater resource inspector and Watershed Steward Academy coordinator, breaks ground for the rain garden project Friday.