Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Number 2: The persimmon

The air turned suddenly cool yesterday and the dogday harvest flies are beginning to pack up. Several days ago, I wrote about having seen school buses out and about. This of course means that we’re now standing with our toes over the edge of fall. As it turns out, it’s also a great time to get out and have fun while serving your community.
Many of us think of conservation efforts (and outdoor activities in general) as something people do in the spring and summer. After all, environmental groups, Boy Scouts, the Izaak Walton League, trail clubs and their ilk tend to mobilize people for Earth Day and in preparation of the high use seasons.
For anyone who lives in the Potomac River watershed fall is also an important time to work for clean drinking water, clean air, and healthy fisheries. Growing Native is a program run by the Potomac Conservancy that offers opportunities to collect native tree seeds for clean water. After adequate time to grow at a state nursery or volunteer grow-out station, seedlings are then planted in area parks, stream-sides, and other sensitive areas in need of more tree cover. Trees help to keep the water entering streams and rivers clean, while reducing air pollution. This in turn makes for more productive fisheries downstream.
Native trees provide a number of advantages. First, their specific water, soil, and light needs are fine-tuned to the area. This means that when planted in appropriate places, native trees often need less maintenance than hybrids or exotics. Second, native trees invite native animals and plants, which need trees for food, habitat, or cover. Encouraging native trees from a variety of sources rather than artificial hybrids or exotics also contributes to a robust genetic database of wild plants that prevents genetic bottle-necking.
If you live in the DC area or anywhere else in the Potomac River watershed, I encourage you to check out the Potomac Conservancy calendar to find a local seed collection event.

Image source: Virginia Tech Department of Forestry, after Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones, and Palin

3 comments:

Sue said...

"the larch" !

E. R. Dunhill said...

Sue,
How did I know that you'd be the one to catch the Monty Python reference?

E. R. Dunhill said...

...I had actually originally planned to call this post "Number 1: The larch" and simply use the picture of the larch from the old series. But, I suddenly envisioned confused new volunteers scouring DC parks in search of larch seeds.