Master Gardeners Assist Town in Rain Garden Cleanup

Posted December 6, 2017 at 5:52 am by

(L‑R) Jon Gustafson, Ali­son Lon­g­ley, Megan Jones, Sare­na Schu­mach­er, and Julia Tur­ney. Not pic­tured, Caitlin Blethen — Matt Pranger photo

Sare­na Schu­mach­er — Matt Pranger photo

Town employ­ees and vol­un­teer WSU Mas­ter Gar­den­ers recent­ly com­plet­ed Phase One of the reju­ve­na­tion of the Spring Street rain gar­den locat­ed at the north­east cor­ner of Spring and First Streets. Phase One involved remov­ing 25 five-gal­lon buck­ets of silt, remov­ing and clean­ing riv­er rock, pulling weeds and unhealthy plants, and clean­ing out the catch basin. Phase Two will include replant­i­ng the gar­den this spring.

“The vol­un­teers were amaz­ing,” said Town parks employ­ee Sare­na Schu­mach­er who worked with fel­low employ­ee Jon Gustafson and Mas­ter Gar­den­ers Caitlin Blethen, Megan Jones, Ali­son Lon­g­ley, and Julia Tur­ney, who trav­eled from Orcas to assist. “I would nev­er have accom­plished this project with­out their time, ded­i­ca­tion, and hard labor.” She said their ulti­mate goal is not only to improve the fil­tra­tion effi­cien­cy but also to cre­ate a beau­ti­ful space.

Ali­son Longe­ly — Matt Pranger photo

The exper­i­men­tal rain gar­den was installed in May 2011 as a nat­ur­al, low-impact means of mit­i­gat­ing pol­lu­tion from storm water runoff from approx­i­mate­ly 10,800 square feet of streets and side­walks before the water enters the har­bor. Rain gar­dens are shal­low, land­scaped depres­sions where runoff is absorbed and pol­lu­tion is fil­tered through a thick lay­er of soil, sequestered by plants, and bro­ken down by bac­te­ria and fun­gi. Effec­tive­ness of the gar­den improves as the plants, bac­te­ria, and fun­gi mature and thrive, but can decrease if the soil becomes sat­u­rat­ed with pollutants.

Megan Jones, with Sare­na Schu­mach­er in back­ground — Matt Pranger photo

The Town, Coun­ty, and sev­er­al local and main­land busi­ness­es con­tributed to the plan­ning, engi­neer­ing, and con­struc­tion of the rain gar­den, which was fund­ed with a grant from the state Depart­ment of Ecol­o­gy and admin­is­tered by the San Juan Coun­ty Marine Resources Com­mit­tee. Rain gar­dens have since been installed around the island includ­ing in the Home Trust’s Sun­rise neigh­bor­hood and at Peace Island Med­ical Center.

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