“Seeds drifting through space for years took root in a farmer’s field. From the seeds came pods which had the power to reproduce themselves…” – Dr. Miles J. Bennell | Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956
They’re already here! They’re growing silently in your favorite parks. They’re climbing over trees, covering the forest floor, and slowly taking over the ecosystem–vine by vine, sprout by sprout! They’re leafy invaders from outer space and they’re hiding in plain sight!
Well, technically, they aren’t from outer space and they certainly aren’t going to turn you into a pod person. The aliens we worry about at Rock Creek Conservancy come from all over planet Earth, and are a major problem for the forests of Rock Creek Park. Today, we’re talking about invasive plants.
The extraterrestrials from the 1955 sci-fi novel The Body Snatchers planned to leave Earth depleted of all resources before moving on to the next planet. Similarly, the non-native invasive plants that take root in Rock Creek Park wreak havoc on entire ecosystems. They monopolize space, nutrients, and sunlight until the local flora and fauna can’t live here anymore. Read More
You may have heard or seen that Rock Creek Park has an invasive plant problem.
After a 9-year battle with bamboo in her backyard, Tori Garten knows first hand the challenges of fighting invasive plants.
When Tori first bought her house in Randolph Hills, she noticed a stand of bamboo was taking over the backyard and spreading into the neighboring parkland of Rock Creek. Tori explains, “The bamboo was on the ‘cons’ side of the pros and cons list. I knew at some point I’d have to deal with it.”
Like so many invasive plants, the bamboo started as something ornamental to create a privacy screen. It quickly spread by out-competing the native plants and taking over the local ecosystem (not to mention Tori’s garden and the adjoining parkland.) Rock Creek Conservancy and other local environmental groups lead regular invasive plant removal efforts to support our public lands struggling to combat this “growing” challenge. To keep these invasive plants from gaining (and re-gaining) footholds, park neighbors are essential partners to take action from their own homes and communities. Read More
Above: Boulder Bridge spans Rock Creek in Rock Creek Park. For many DC residents, this urban oasis provides a natural respite from the city. However, high bacteria levels from raw sewage and stormwater runoff challenge the health of the creek to the surprise of many visitors. Photo credit: Rock Creek Conservancy | Katy Cain
Recently, a Washington Post article confirmed what Rock Creek Conservancy has long known: there is a lot of work to be done to restore Rock Creek. While significant infrastructure upgrades and federal and local funding have been invested in the Anacostia watershed, the Rock Creek watershed remains in need of assistance.
A Tale of Two Sewers
Jelani White reflects on his time spent in Rock Creek Park growing up in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Rock Creek Conservancy | Katy Cain
“Sometimes, I say to myself that I must have been born in the wrong geographical setting. My circumstances would tell anyone that I’m a city boy, but my mental focus says that I am, in essence, a kid of the wilderness and high mountain tops. Growing up, Rock Creek provided the wilderness I needed.”
For the fifth summer in a row, Rock Creek Conservancy is cultivating the next generation of environmental stewards through Rock Creek Conservation Corps (RC3)! This program employs DC high school students from communities underrepresented in conservation to work. These students work with Rock Creek Conservancy to complete critical conservation projects in nearby nature throughout the Rock Creek watershed. This is RC3’s first summer in partnership with DC’s Mayor Marion S. Berry Summer Youth Employment Program.
Over the past four summers, 120 crew members have graduated from RC3, leaving our favorite park better than they found it. From installing green infrastructure to removing invasive plants, these hard-working young people do it all, and they do it for Rock Creek.
For some RC3 crew members, the program provides a quick foray into conservation and a productive and fun way to spend the summer. For others, it sparks a passion for taking care of the environment. RC3 crew member Jelani White is an excellent example of the latter.
Jelani first attended RC3 in 2016 as a high school junior at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School and is now pursuing a four-year degree in Environmental Science from Tuskegee University. Even though he’s getting his education in Alabama, he keeps coming home to Rock Creek Park. This summer is his fourth year as an RC3 crew member.
We wanted to learn what encourages him to come back year after year, so we visited his RC3 crew in the field and asked him some questions! Read our interview below to learn more. Read More
Ed. Note: The following was written by staff of the Rock Creek Conservancy. PoPville is proud to be a media sponsor for 2019.
Hay’s Spring Spotlight on Endangered Species Day
Today, Rock Creek Conservancy is thrilled to announce our new collaboration with PoPville! For those of you who don’t know us, the Conservancy is a local environmental organization and an official philanthropic partner to Rock Creek Park. We are dedicated to restoring Rock Creek and its parks as a natural oasis for all people to appreciate and protect. As we work together, you can expect monthly features from us about all that Rock Creek and Rock Creek Park has to offer and how you can help us restore this unique urban oasis that winds through the heart of our city.
What better way to kick off the relationship than to celebrate Rock Creek’s one and only endangered species — the Hay’s spring amphipod (Stygobromus hayi). These five facts about the Hay’s spring amphipod are sure to impress all the nature lovers at your next networking happy hour.
IMPORTANT: While the facts below are sure to pique your amphipod interests, it is vital that you don’t go searching for them in the wild. There are so few Hay’s spring amphipods left that disturbance to their habitat could easily result in their extinction.
1) Endangered in DC
The Hay’s spring amphipod was first discovered in 1940. Since its discovery, this crustacean has only ever been found in eight small seepage springs along Rock Creek. Because of its small population, sensitivity to urban development, and changes in water quality the animal was officially declared endangered in 1982. Read More