Students Create “Rain Garden” to Slow Storm Runoff
35 General Ecology students have completed a restoration planting of native species aimed at helping absorb run-off between campus and the Poultney River. The new “rain garden,” which is located in the corner of the soccer field behind the scoreboard, is strategically positioned for the restoration effort because the college’s drainage system empties into the area.
Rain gardens are ecological adaptations of industrial catchment systems (for water run-off). Traditional industrial catchment systems remove water as quickly as possible from a specific area (e.g., a parking lot) and drain it into a basin, where it will slowly dissipate into surrounding soils and waterways. The addition of wetland plants to or around a water catchment area increases water absorption and acts as a purifier.
Students worked in five different groups to execute the project. The design group planned the layout of native shrubs and trees to be used in the rain garden. They considered: slope, different species’ preference for sunlight or shade, water tolerance, and plant size. While the design group planned, the rest of the class removed invasive species, such as reed canary grass, burdock, purple loosestrife, and wild parsnip.
Undergraduate research assistant Pearl Wetherall selected plants native to Vermont that are also commonly found in Alder Swamps and Floodplain Forest. The planting included: Speckled Alder, Silky Dogwood, Red-Osier Dogwood, Winterberry Holly, Arrowwood, High-Bush Cranberry, Shagbark Hickory, White Oak, Bur Oak, Black Willow, and American Elm.
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