Sunday, September 4, 2011

Growing Native! Share seeds to protect local water - Program kicks off Sept. 17th

I hate to see seeds or seedlings go to waste. When I find oak seedlings in my yard, which are typically the result of acorns being "planted" by squirrels, I always dig them up, nurture them to a height of a few feet, and give them to friends or family. The photo at the left is a "couple of six-packs" that I gave to friends when they bought their new home. Those trees are now well over 15 feet tall.

If you, too, hate to see a seed go to waste, you may be interested in Growing Native: Get Nuts for Clean Water, a program managed by the Potomac Conservancy. I learned about the program last year by reading this great article called Help with the Harvest by Kelly Senser of the National Wildlife Federation.

Growing Native engages thousands of volunteers in the Potomac River region each year to collect native hardwood and shrub seeds. The seeds are donated to state nurseries in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, where they are planted and used to restore streamside forests throughout the 15,000 square mile watershed.

Since 2001, nearly 56,000 volunteers in 4 states and the District of Columbia have collected more than 164,000 pounds of acorns, walnuts and other hardwood tree and shrub seeds for Growing Native. These seeds have generated seedlings that will be used to restore sensitive streamside lands.

September 17th kicks off the Growing Native Campaign this year. For more information, visit the Growing Native website.

Here is some great information from their site about the importance of trees:

Trees provide many community benefits. 
Healthy trees are critical to human well being and wildlife prosperity. Trees cool our cities, filter the air we breathe, provide homes and food for wildlife, and better water-related recreational activities. Their leaves produce life-giving oxygen, and their roots reduce soil erosion and absorb pollutants that would otherwise foul our rivers and streams. Their branches and trunks are home to a bird watcher’s premier list including the great blue heron and American bald eagle. 

Native trees are important. 
Native trees are especially important because they are adapted to local soil, rainfall, and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to withstand many types of insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will thrive with a minimal amount of maintenance. Wildlife species depend on native plant communities for their habitat, so the use of native trees helps preserve the balance of nature. Plants and trees that are imported from other parts of the nation and the world can actually bring unintended harm, resulting in diminished wildlife and plant diversity. 

Our communities have a tree shortage. 
You may not know it, but according to American Forests, America’s cities have a deficit of 634 million trees. In this region, the overall tree cover continues to decline and at the same time, areas with little or no tree cover continue to increase. Replanting trees and reforestation is the answer and you can help! 

Trees address the problems of nonpoint-source pollution.
In the heavily urbanized counties of the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, nonpoint-source pollution from runoff of sediment, nutrients, and other toxins poses the greatest threat to water quality. Moreover, high-volume storm flow into stream valleys is a prime contributor to accelerated erosion of stream banks contributing to decline of in-stream habitat and extensive sedimentation into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. A significant amount of this runoff originates from individual yards and homes. 

Growing Native provides future forests for healthy rivers and streams. 
In response, Growing Native engages volunteers of all ages and backgrounds in an effort to restore degraded riverside lands. Restoring sensitive streamside habitats will provide a front-line defense for the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.

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