Two years ago, we gathered to celebrate the restoration of the long-buried Broad Branch Stream. Last Sunday, neighbors gathered to mark its progress and learn more about the next phase.
During opening remarks, we met Katrina Weinig, a neighbor and horticulturalist who is organizing efforts to further beautify the site, as well as create habitat for wildlife and spaces for human visitors. It’s through her efforts that the Forest Hills Neighborhood Alliance, in partnership with Rock Creek Conservancy and Casey Trees, has received nearly $20,000 in grants from DC’s Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE).
DOEE’s Steve Saari led the daylighting project, which began in 2013 after ten years of study, research and negotiations with landowners. The stream flows through District, National Park Service and Peruvian Embassy land. Saari said Rock Creek Conservancy’s Steve Dryden brought the buried stream to DOEE’s attention. It looked a lot like a stream bed, Dryden thought, but where was the stream? DOEE looked at old maps and topography and discovered Dryden was right. A daylighting project was born.
Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh remarked on the long road this project has taken to this point and applauded the community effort that is yet to come. If the turnout at the October 16th event is any indication, the community efforts will be well supported by the National Park Service, DOEE and its RiverSmart program, Rock Creek Conservancy, Casey Trees, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Weinig and Darlene Robbins, the lead designer of the site’s new planting plan.
Robbins, a landscape designer, consulted with NPS and Casey Trees on the plan, which includes 16 different planting zones.
Robbins’ plan places specific types of trees and shrubs in each zone. You can download the Excel file here. Weinig later explained the zones in an email:
“Most of the trees are being planted in zones 5-13 (the eastern, wooded area of the site), leaving the large part of zones 1-4 and 13-16 (the western, more open entrance areas) as open meadow. In these western areas, only several flowering specimen trees (Amelanchiers) and three sentinel trees (Nyssas) will be planted. It’s been a priority both of our design and of the National Park Service to retain as much open meadow as possible, particularly around the stream.
“More shrubs will be planted in these open areas in the spring, as well as meadow perennials and grasses, to reinforce the area as meadow planting and keep down the undesirable invasives which are taking hold.”
Casey Trees is providing 140 trees and shrubs for the first planting event, on Saturday, November 5th. It will begin at 9 a.m. and volunteers will be treated to breakfast and lunch. Get more information and register here.
Comet and Broad Branch Market fed us at the October 16th event. There were also native plants neighbors could buy and plant in their own yards, a tour of the stream led by Saari, and the installation of the park’s first pet waste station, with bags for poop pickup.