We have talked a lot in this blog about the impacts of storm water runoff on the Lake Wingra Watershed in general, and, in particular, how runoff continues to alter the native plant communities of the UW-Madison Arboretum.
What is the nature of the problem? What to do? Joy Zedler, Aldo Leopold Professor of Restoration Ecology at the UW-Madison and her students answer these two questions in a new brochure, “How can neighbors help sustain native plants in Curtis Prairie?” (July 2012 Leaflet). (Although the impacts of storm water on Curtis Prairie is the subject of this brochure, the problems in the Arboretum are symptomatic of the larger watershed concerns, which, in turn, is typical of storm water caused environmental damage across the country.)
Professor Zedler and her students describe the situation by illustrating how storm water has affected the over 200 native prairie, savanna, and wetland plant species in Curtis Prairie first by eroding a ditch through Curtis Prairie and secondly by spreading nutrients and sediment across a part of the central Curtis. The sediment and nutrients have smothered native plants and encouraged the growth of the weed, reed canary grass that crowds out native species.
Next, the brochure lists five simple things that citizens, businesses, and public agencies can do to clean up the runoff that plagues Curtis Prairie. These steps are:
- Release less nitrogen.
- Release less phosphorus
- Reduce erosion by infiltrating more rainfall
- Grow native plants
- Reduce pesticide use
Others in the Wingra Watershed who have fought to reduce storm water impacts include, The Friends of Lake Wingra (lakewingra.org), Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission (danewaters), and the Save Our Stream blog. They have presented many potential solutions to the damaging influence of storm water runoff on the landscape of the Lake Wingra Watershed. Some progress has been made but more work remains to be done.