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This project is centered around the Wise's Mill tributary that parallels Wise's Mill Road, and which is perhaps most well-known as the main point of access to Valley Green Inn and the park on the west side of Wissahickon Creek. The length of the tributary encompasses a diversity of habitats including a shrub / scrub upland, a marshy wetland, and a wooded riparian area. The stream originates as a spring in the lower (eastern) end of the upland area and is marked by the presence of an historic spring house which was recently restored by the Friends of the Wissahickon.
Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers is collaborating with the Philadelphia Water Department and the Fairmount Park Commission to restore the vegetation along this corridor with the goals of increasing bird habitat, increasing plant diversity, and improvement of the infiltration of storm water runoff. Due to intense deer browse and fairly recent agricultural activities, native plants along the stream corridor are pressured by a number of invasive species such as devil's walking stick, multiflora rose, tree-of-heaven, oriental bittersweet, Japanese knotweed and even kudzu. Beginning in 2004, WRV aggressively worked to remove populations of invasive plants in preparation for plantings. With funds secured from the USDA Natural Resource and Conservation Service, planting is currently underway along the lower wooded reach of the stream. More than 300 native plants have been planted adjacent to the stream to enhance the quality of the existing forest, and include black willow, river birch, American sycamore, silver maple, box elder, elder, elderberry, northern arrowwood, red chokeberry, and winterberry. The broad upland has been cleared and planted with a non-invasive annual, winter rye, to serve as a cover crop, thereby enriching the soil, reducing soil erosion, and suppressing the growth of weeds until the area can be planted in 2006.
Since the beginning of the year, 17 volunteer groups contributed almost 500 hours to help prepare the two planting areas and install the young trees and shrubs. When completed, the 14-acre project will have over four distinct habitat areas including riparian forest, upland scrub/shrub, wetland, and warm season grassland. As a whole, the collaborative project will serve as a unique demonstration area for students and the public to observe the relationship between the hydrologic features of the site and the variety of wildlife supported by a great diversity of plants and habitat types, while also learning about the site's former agricultural history.
Funding for this portion of the project is provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through their Delaware Estuary Grant Program.