Storm water channel converted to naturalized swale at Louise Moore Park

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Lamont McClure and the Department of Parks and Recreation have removed a macadam stormwater channel at Louise W. Moore Park and converted it to a naturalized swale. Community conservation partners recently removed some 1300 square feet of macadam, replacing it with 1500 native wildflowers and warm season grasses.

“Concerns about storm water runoff have increased over the last several years,” says Lamont McClure. “Our Parks Department continues to work with watershed specialists, exploring options to reduce both flooding and pollution.”

Stormwater originates from rain, snow and ice melt and flows over land or impervious surfaces such as streets or parking lots. Replacing pavement with vegetation helps redirect stormwater into the soil and recharges underlying groundwater. It is a proven and recommended best management practice for improving the quality of stormwater runoff.

Using a mini-excavator, shovels and gloved-hands, parks staff peeled up and removed the old paving and nearly a foot of the excess crushed stone beneath it. Parks staff replaced those materials with tons of screened topsoil and a layer of three to four inches of peat compost. Parks staff then installed a biodegradable erosion control matting in the swale, through which seedlings could be planted directly into the underlying compost and soil. Volunteers with the Lehigh Valley Master Watershed Steward program and the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley planted 1500 plugs of 15 different species of native wildflowers and warm season grasses throughout the swale. Some of these native plants include Mountain Mint, Blazing Star, Black-eyed Susan, Purple Love Grass, Golden Ragwort, Wild Bergamot and Blue Vervain. This soon-to-be colorful flowering swale is located along the west side entrance to Louise Moore Park. In addition to recharging groundwater, the soils and plants in naturalized swales filter sediments and nutrients from stormwater, helping remove these pollutants long before they enter the nearest waterway.

The naturalized stormwater swale at Louise Moore Park will improve the quality of stormwater runoff at the park, while at the same time providing a colorful array and diversity of native wildflowers and warm season grasses for both pollinators and people to enjoy. This project was funded in part by the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley, with a grant from Northampton County Conservation District. Lehigh Valley Greenways provided funding for the plants. Penn State Extension provided volunteer Master Watershed Stewards and the tools and equipment they needed for planting 1500 seedlings. Northampton County Parks also provided funding, staff and equipment. Staff from the Conservation District and Parks Department designed the project and developed the plan, with some technical assistance provided by Kind Earth Growers in Ottsville, Bucks County. Northampton County Parks & Recreation thanks its community conservation partners for their assistance with this project, which has provided both aesthetic and natural resource improvements at Louise W. Moore Park.

Information provided to TVL by:
Becky Bartlett
Deputy Director of Administration
Northampton County Government Center
669 Washington Street
Easton, PA 18042