Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ June 2004

Earth Day Activities:  Creek Cleanup, Tree Planting

By Carole Barth

Creek Cleanup

We had great weather for NFCCA’s annual spring creek cleanup.  Volunteers collected 15 large bags of trash.  Ironically, among the items found in the creek was a “No Dumping” sign.  Other items included a broken tricycle and several tires.

Over the years we have noticed a correlation between the amount of rainfall and the amount of trash found in the creek.  Simply put, more rain equals more trash.  This is an indication that most of the trash comes from upstream rather than being dumped directly into our segment of the creek.  Trash dropped on streets and parking lots washes into the storm drains that, in turn, empty into the creek.

In the nearby Sligo Creek watershed, the Friends of Sligo Creek (FOSC) group is experimenting with a trash rack.  Fitted over a stormdrain outfall, the trash rack catches litter before it reaches the creek.  However, to keep the rack from blocking the storm drain, the trash must be removed after every storm.  That requires a consistent commitment from volunteers.  Could a trash rack work in Northwest Branch?  FOSC’s experiment should provide some valuable information.  To find out more, go to

Tree Planting

NFCCA purchased 10 trees from Tree-mendous Maryland and volunteers planted them along the Lockridge Drive median.  We planted three varieties:  crab apple, redbud, and shadbush.  (Longtime residents will remember the old crabapples planted by the original homeowners.)  Redbud (Cercis canadensis) has pink to lavender blooms April-May.  The large heart-shaped leaves are reddish when new and turn yellow in the fall.  Redbud also has a high wildlife value.  Shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis) has white flowers March-May which are followed by edible fruit.  Its fall color is orange to red and, like Redbud, it has a high wildlife value.  Shadbush is so-called because it blooms when the shad run upstream to spawn.  To me, this is a marvelous reminder of the interdependence of ecosystems.

How do forests and fish need each other?  Streamside trees provide critical shade, keeping water temperatures cool enough to support fish populations.  Leaves that drop into the water feed critters that, in turn, become food for other critters which are then eaten by fish.  When a tree dies and falls into the stream, it provides important habitat for fish and their prey.  So clearly, fish need trees.  But do trees need fish?

Recent research in Alaska found that riverside trees get a quarter of their nitrogen from salmon that die and decompose after spawning.  In fact, researchers found trees along salmon streams grow three times faster than the trees growing beside salmon-free streams.  More work needs to be done to verify that the trees do better because of the salmon.  In any case, the Shadbush reminds us to look for unexpected connections in the natural world.   ■

   © 2004 NFCCA  [Source:]