Water­shed stew­ards in­stall Fair Hill rain gar­den

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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.

FAIR HILL

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.

CE­CIL WHIG BY BRI­ANNA SHEA

Mar­shall McSorely, a county sed­i­ment and stormwa­ter re­source in­spec­tor and Water­shed Stew­ard Academy co­or­di­na­tor, breaks ground for the rain gar­den project Fri­day.

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