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Image: Being in Place
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"A bigger vision sells
better than a
snivelling little vision."




We do not purposely preserve any of the biodiversity originally present in the landscape when we allow it to be developed, said Leslie Sauer, Principal, Andropogon Associates, internationally known for Ecological Landscape Design. Biodiversity is disappearing on an international scale . Amphibians are gone, migrating songbirds are up to 60% diminished. Increasingly, we are losing the upland areas and all the intermediate areas.

Epcott Center stands for our view of the future - a completely artificial landscape of inedible cabbages. Lawn is another problem. We should be required to get a permit to put in the typical lawn. We should be planting Greenswards to modify lawn and parkland so that it includes diverse areas. In your home lawn you can mow at a higher level 5"-6" so the grass is healthier. Areas can be cut at different heights and cut less times a year, saving money, time and effort: plan a walkway in rough grass - tall areas with native species mowed only 1-2 times a year to provide a herbaceous border, include 'wet' meadows and plan native landscapes not meadows in a can. Instead of $5,000 a year to maintain corporate lawns, it costs $50 using this approach.

Plant roadsides to reduce runoff and introduce native biological diversity. People love seeing plants, long corridors of planting, making it important to seek out every available niche to put something that will grow, to create an amenity.

Along City streets, pavers set on sand can be placed around root zones of trees in an enlarged planting area of the streetscape to permit the roots to move and water to infiltrate. Roots breathe oxygen. We need oxygen in the soil. We need organisms and water moving through soils. It allows the salts to be flushed out. The tiny boxes usually left for tree planting and used for utilities as well exclude sufficient space for soil and roots and dwarf or kill the tree eventually. In cities, trees suffer an unusual environment, often total sun or total shade depending on which side of the street they're planted, unusually hot and dry, making the right species selection vital if they are to grow. River Birch can make it in difficult places.

We are working with corporations like Dupont which, as many of them have done, has moved to the suburbs despoiling adjacent farmland and the adjacent stream. A survey showed the building Dupont had designed was actually in the stream , with construction due to start in 3 weeks calling for changing the stream to a stormwater pond. We showed the legal staff the future back-flooding into land owned by Dupont Company Executives which would occur if they followed that plan. Our goal was to bring stormwater runoff as far away as possible from the stream. In the large parking lots, we used porous paving with a giant, shallow bathtub filled with gravel under it to contain the water - remove the petrochemicals - with bays which overflow into each other - to manage the rooftop and drainage from the lawns as well. They had planned for six 6" overflow pipes to drain runoff from the parking area. We put in three 3" pipes and they have never had a problem. Porous paving can be best used where there is a high degree of control, where cars are parked all day long.

College age sons of corporate employees can be engaged during the summer to help transform the landscape. At Dupont, they put up a trellis leading toward a woodland path to shade it and make an entrance that leads from the building into a natural area. They helped replace rampant imports like honeysuckle with native species and clear off the weedy growth so that the mayapple and dogtoothed violet had a chance to re-emerge. Native plants grow even in poor soils.

We are in denial regarding auto damage and parking lots. Rethink the amount of asphalt necessary, it can be reduced without diminishing the parking spaces available. Remove paving at the perimeters, put in a wheel stop, a soak pit, get a volunteer street tree group to redesign planting free. Make smaller parking spaces, narrower roads. We planted a ribbon of gold into Philadelphia. Miles of improvement, trellises for vines for birds, fostering existing native species, grasses, woody plants. Trash collected in them. A local Travel Agency is paying for trash collection.

We have instituted a program with volunteers who are taught restoration techniques 22 weekends a year. We have a cooperative program with the Pennsylvania Prison System which grows native species. Volunteers dip the roots in fish emulsion and hydrogel and plant them on steep slopes with a 99% survival rate. Landscapes can be totally changed. We have 2,000 acres in public/private partnerships. The requirement is an informed public.

To stop erosive runoff, recreate many small infiltration basins: 1,000 little puddles are recreated in West Lincoln Park to replace those that were taken away when the land was leveled. To control erosion in the streambanks, we cut fresh brush (dogwood, black willow) and stuck it into the banks in rows. They help hold the water and within 3 months have grown so successfully that you have a lush growth of shrubs which will resist a fast flow.

A stream corridor can be brought back without riprap. Set up turf drainage-ways, which take the rainfall into tiny forest areas. Fibersheen, a product made from coconut waste that takes 5-6 years to rot, is used to form a large hollow 'sausage roll'. Filled with plants (60 species/30 volunteers), and anchored along the stream bank it will stay in place until the plants have grown and protect the stream bank against the flow of current.

You can't solve living problems with dead materials. Depaving, de-bulkheading is what we have to do. Every one of us has to take every opportunity to take back the landscape, make a habit of restoration, plant aquatic species, stop the ferocious velocities caused by impervious surface runoff. Corporate executives will buy into something new. "I'll sell a titmouse, what the hell", said one tired executive.



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