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The primary objective of this project was to restore the natural character of the riparian vegetation, leading to improved ecosystem functioning in an area surrounding the headwaters of Gorgas Creek, a key tributary to the Wissahickon Creek. Restoration efforts were aimed at enhancing natural forest regeneration in 5.8 acre area that is depauperate of native understory vegetation due to years of excessive deer browse and intense competition from invasive species.
A large portion of this relatively young forest was composed of non-native, highly invasive species such as Japanese knotweed, multiflora rose, Norway maple, oriental bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, and wineberry. With help from over 229 volunteers, who contributed 704 volunteer hours to the riparian restoration project, over 5 dumpster loads (approximately 80 cubic yards) of non-native invasive material was removed from the site and replaced with 510 young trees and shrubs of 34 different species; 20 of which were not already established at the site. Specific plant species were selected for their unique wildlife value, ability to contribute to soil stability, contribution to the diversity of the native plant communities, and suitability for the topographical position in the landscape. Of the 20 new additions, 13 are considered to have a high value for wildlife and five are regarded as being effective in controlling erosion. Special attention was focused on re-vegetating areas prone to deterioration such as steep slopes, worn gullies, and natural swales. For additional detail on the specific species planted see the attached plant list.
Over the coming months we will be returning to the site to complete the removal of Norway maple trees and clearing of vines, both of which are facilitated by the absence of foliage. However, the success of the project is dramatic and immediately visible to the extent that the impenetrable thickets of rose and knotweed are gone, the snarl of vines tangled in the tree canopy is greatly reduced, and in its place are numerous young native trees and shrubs lining the stream bank, filling the canopy gaps, and covering the steep slopes throughout the site.
We are deeply grateful to those individuals and organizations who helped bring this project to fruition. Our hard-working field crews for the project included service groups from Abington Friends School, Chestnut Hill Academy, Crefeld School, Engineering Environmental Management, Inc., Friends Central, Germantown Friends School, MiddleEarth Academy, Northeast Treatment Center, Outward Bound, Penn Charter School, Philadelphia University, Temple University, Villanova University, and the membership of WRV. Principal funding for this project was provided by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Inc.