Archive for Wetlands

#109 Here Comes the Hydrilla!

October 30, 2008

While the Virginia Film Festival showcases movies about aliens from other countries, other lives, and other worlds, we need look no further than out own watershed for invasives of the biological variety.  The South Fork Rivanna Reservoir is now infested with Hydrilla verticillata, an aquatic weed that has caused problems in lakes, rivers, and sounds in other parts of the country.

 
icon for podpress  Standard Podcast [
Warning: parse_url(/rambler/wp-content/plugins/podpress/podpress_backend.php?action=getduration&filename=http://www.cvillepublicmedia.org/rambler/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/109_rambler_mp3.mp3) [function.parse-url]: Unable to parse url in /home/.juilee/seantubbs/cvillepublicmedia.org/rambler/wp-content/plugins/podpress/podpress.php on line 151
5:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
This show originally aired on October 30, 2008 on “The Rivanna Rambler,” a weekly public affairs show airing every Thursday at 11:55 a.m. on WTJU 91.1 FM or wtju.net.

I was reading in the paper how Richard Herkowitz, director of the Virginia Film Festival, decided that the subject of aliens could have social, political, as well as entertainment value – and now we are in the midst of the movies about topics that range from immigration to space invasions.  We use the word alien to describe something that is “not from here” and usually with the connotation that it has no business being here.  Many times, we ascribe to aliens the notion that they are “invading,” and thus underscore the menacing potential.

Well, these terms are also used in the biological world.  While an alien species is simply “one not native to an area,” it may become invasive if it is able to out-compete similar but native species.  If it is able to overcome – or even thrive – within the ecological limits provided by other native organisms, the plants, insects, and animals that have evolved together in a healthy balance.

While alien space invaders may be thrilling or scary to contemplate, it is usually much harder for any of us to have a similar reaction about an invasive plant species – like the common reed, Phragmites, that is overwhelming wetlands across the eastern seaboard and changing the visual and ecological character of marshy areas.  Or the Zebra mussel, whose capacity for feeding and filtering has rendered waters from the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence Seaway stunningly clear, but biologically barren.  Usually, we first become aware of such invasions when they have an economic impact – such as the need to keep water intakes from fowling with Zebra Mussels.

But thanks to the focused attention of the South Rivanna Reservoir Task Force, we now know that we have an aquatic invasion in our watershed. Hydrilla verticillata, commonly known as hydrilla, is forming dense mats of growth along the margins of the reservoir, reducing access to rowing lanes, snagging fishermen’s lures and stopping the strokes of boater’s paddles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments

#102: Stormwater at The Dell: Righting a Wrong

September 11, 2008

The University of Virginia’s Stormwater Management Program has resulted in transformations of the built environment while at the same time improving water quality. The Dell is once such transformation.

 
icon for podpress  Standard Podcast: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

This show originally aired in September 11, 2008 on “The Rivanna Rambler,” a weekly public affairs show airing every Thursday at 11:55 a.m. on WTJU 91.1 FM or wtju.net

Last night after a meeting at UVA’s Newcomb Hall, I strolled across Emmet Street to The Dell for a quiet moment on the water. At the end of the hot day, the air temperature was falling as the undersides of clouds darkened with gray. From a bench across the pond I could see blue and orange shirts and shorts moving on the basketball court. The pool before me reflected the action in segments clipped by a row of young arbor vitae planted along the edge of the court. Above me, bats streaked through darkening air, criss-crossing over the water partaking of misquotes. The sound of Emmet Street traffic was constant, but the longer I sat, the more it started to blend with a new sound – one of flowing water from somewhere beyond a large English boxwood leftover from a former landscape.

I was sitting by a section of Meadow Creek that has been rehabilitated and restored, brought to the surface after being contained in the 1950’s.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments

#98 The Restoration of Meadow Creek

August 14, 2008

One of the most degraded streams in Charlottesville, Meadow Creek, will get a major restoration in 2009 when The Nature Conservancy along with its partners rebuild and restore 7000 feet between the City and County.
 
 
icon for podpress  Standard Podcast: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
This show originally aired in August 14, 2008 on “The Rivanna Rambler,” a weekly public affairs show airing every Thursday at 11:55 a.m. on WTJU 91.1 FM or wtju.net

You know something is not right when you walk up to the edge of MeadowCreek behind Kmart off Hydraulic Road. The bank drops down vertically to the stream bottom where a small flow trickles over the rocks. You are not sure how close you can get because looking upstream, you can see places where high water flow from storms has tunneled into the bank leaving just a flap of grass, hinged and drooping over the edge like the unruly bangs of a boy overdue for a haircut.

And you’ve seen this kinds of washed-out bank everywhere in the watershed, and especially as you walk along the Rivanna Trails encircling Charlottesville. For years, you may have said to yourself, this can’t be right, all this dirt eroding away, headed downstream in a brown muddy mess.

But how do you ever go about fixing something like this? And can it even BE fixed?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments