Friday, November 18, 2022

Native Meadow Will Benefit Environment In New Caln Township Meadow Park In Chester County

The Penn State Extension Master Watershed Stewards of Chester & Delaware Counties and Caln Township collaborated to transform two acres of mowed turf into a native meadow on previously inaccessible open space owned by the township. 

The new Caln Meadow Park [in Chester County] will open to the public for public engagement, education, and enjoyment once the meadow is established.

Meadows using native plants are a recognized best management practice that is increasing in popularity as municipalities look for effective stormwater management strategies, beautification and habitat creation, public engagement spaces, and ways to save municipal resources through decreased mowing. 

By replacing the short-rooted turf grass with native plants which have much longer root systems, stormwater infiltration will be greatly improved onsite thus reducing stormwater runoff. 

This will indirectly reduce the amount of pollutants entering our waterways and lessen the damage to streambanks from stormwater runoff. 

The larger leaf surfaces of these native plants provide more evapotranspiration than turf and the meadow will naturally improve the onsite soil through the addition of organic matter when they decompose. 

Rich, organic soils play a vital role in climate resiliency as they hold both more moisture and carbon than poor soils. 

The additional biodiversity of plants will create native habitat, attracting butterflies, birds, and other beneficial wildlife. 

Caln Township worked with DCNR and Chester County Conservation District to prepare the space for a meadow. 

A public workshop was offered by township staff, EAC members and Extension staff on October 22nd to share the importance of the meadows, how to convert turf grass areas into beautiful and beneficial meadows, and allowed attendees to help seed Caln Meadow Park. 

The Master Watershed Steward Program also supplied an educational sign about meadows and a drawing bench with materials to encourage reflection and sketches. 

Future workshops and outreach will be provided by Caln Township, Master Watershed Stewards of Chester & Delaware Counties, and Master Gardeners of Chester County. 

Caln Township will add parking spaces and an entrance path to the park and staged conversion of the remaining twelve acres will be planned over several years.

The meadow conversion project and educational outreach is a collaboration between Master Watershed Stewards of Chester & Delaware Counties, Master Gardeners of Chester County, Caln Township, and DCNR. 

Initial educational outreach was made possible by funding from the Pennsylvania American Water grant which was awarded to the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley, in partnership with the Penn State Extension Master Watershed Steward program. 

Additional funding for the project is from a DEP Environmental Education grant received by Penn State Extension to support four projects across the state, including Caln Meadow Park.

To learn more about the Master Watershed Stewards or how to partner with them on projects, please reach out to your county program listed on the Master Watershed Steward Program website.

To learn more about lawn-to-meadow conversions, please visit resources from Penn State Extension, DCNR, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and others. These may be some good places to start:

-- At the Side of Spring Creek: Meadow Planting

-- The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources "Lawn Conversion" website

-- "From Lawn to Meadow: Protect Water, Provide Habitat, Save Money" on The WeConservePA website

(Reprinted from the Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletterClick Here to sign up for your own copy-- bottom of page.)

Upcoming Event:

-- Penn State Extension Hosts 9-Part Woods In Your Backyard Webinar Series Starting Jan. 11

Related Articles: 

-- Penn State Master Watershed Stewards Now Accepting Applications, Holding Info Sessions

-- Penn State Extension Hosts Nov. 29 Webinar On The Roadside Guide To Clean Water - Recognizing Efforts To Keep Your Community’s Water Clean  [PaEN]

-- Penn State Extension Report On Private Water Supply Education & Water Testing In 2022  [PaEN]

-- Master Watershed Stewards Help Purge Plastics On The Lower Susquehanna River  [PaEN]

[Posted: November 18, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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