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Volunteers get wet while planting rain garden

April 09, 2006|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

WILLIAMSPORT

Despite the cold and rainy weather, volunteers planted 300 trees Saturday morning at Byron Memorial Park.

The mass planting was part of an ongoing effort to prevent water pollution caused by runoff, said Emily Cooper, a Western Maryland watershed forester with the Maryland Forest Service.

Cooper said around 50 volunteers - including Williamsport Mayor James G. McCleaf II and several town council members - planted a rain garden and created what is known as a riparian buffer.

Without the additions, rainwater would continue to transfer pollutants from rooftops, parking lots and sidewalks to the park's stream, which is a tributary of Conococheague Creek, Cooper said.

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The riparian buffer consists of trees that will line the stream and absorb rainwater runoff, Cooper said. The rain garden has about 300 water-loving plants that also will capture and filter runoff.

Runoff is the main cause of water pollution, Cooper said.

Ironically, it was rain that prevented volunteers from completing the project Saturday, Councilman Jeffrey A. Cline said.

The National Weather Service's forecast for Williamsport called for only a slight chance of rain. However, it rained most of the morning, causing most volunteers to huddle beneath the pavilion, Cooper said. By 11 a.m., two hours before the event was supposed to end, most of the volunteers were gone, Cooper said.

"It was just getting too cold and wet," she said, adding that even she had to peel off a layer of wet, muddy clothes.

Terry Davis, a volunteer from Hagerstown, said he and his nephew, Billy Davis, arrived at 6 a.m., three hours before the event began, in order to help town and state officials set up.

"It was just a little muddy," Davis said. "Besides that, nobody was complaining."

His wife, Connie Davis, arrived at 9 a.m. with plenty of Sloppy Joes.

"I enjoyed it, I really did," Davis said.

McCleaf said the turnout was surprising because of the rain.

"This was truly a show of a community coming together," McCleaf said.

Cline said volunteers and town officials will apply topsoil and mulch on Monday, when conditions are drier.

The town hopes to unveil the finished project in May.

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