There have been big changes happening in the park. This past spring and summer, working with Rock Creek Park and the Latin American Youth Center’s (LAYC), Erosion Control Crew (ECC), we’ve been busy tackling the restoration of the park’s upper stream valley, a project funded by a National Park Service Challenge Grant for $75,000.
Historic images show the area as a designed woodland, abutting a sunlit stream whose banks were dotted with plantings of iris and perennials, but in recent years, the steep slope behind the Social Safeway on Wisconsin Avenue, and the adjacent stream valley have been taken over by invasive plants, among them porcelain berry, and oriental bittersweet vines, bush honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, multiflora rose, and wineberry.
Since March the area has been transformed by the hard work of the ECC crew. What was once a mess of invasive vines is now an open meadow and slope. Through the generosity of Casey Trees, fifty-two trees and shrubs, including sycamores, winterberry, sweet bay magnolia, and pagoda dogwood were planted along the stream edge in April. Another planting of 150 trees along the Safeway slope is planned for November 2016. With care and maintenance, the long-term goal for the project is to transform the area back to woodland and restore some of Farrand’s vibrant understory plantings.
ECC is a flagship program which was created to provide first-hand skills training for six graduates of the Montgomery County Conservation Corps GED/Green Jobs program. Led by a crew leader, each of the members of the team learned tool safety, how to cut and clear invasive plant species, plant trees and shrubs, install erosion control measures and seed meadows. The project, which was the first of its kind for LAYC, aims to provide crew members with the skills and inspiration they need to move into environmental fields.
The work of the Corps and the Conservancy was featured by Stone Soup Films Doc in a Day in June 2016.