NFWF Supports Bay Watershed Restoration Effort
The Cities of Charles Town and Ranson, WV have developed a strong urban environmental management vision. It is all part of a concerted revitalization effort for the region. Stormwater control as well as beautifying Charles Town with raingardens, which brings more visitors and more business, is important for a “Commerce Corridor” to emerge.
Charles Town’s downtown is booming with new business and the expansion of American Public University System (APUS). In fact, APUS has built a new Academic Center and new Finance Center in the past two years.
Joe Cosentini is the City Manager of Charles Town said: “we are excited to be moving forward with our corridor vision. We were awarded a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund a year ago and now we can move forward.”
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) continues to make strategic financial investments in the West Virginia watershed through its Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund (CBSF). Funding is provided to the region via a public-private partnership of the EPA’s Chesapeake Program and private donors. Wal-Mart is one of the largest corporate funders. FedEx is also involved in NFWF programs in the Tri-state region of West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia as are CSX, Altria and other corporate sponsors interested in protecting the Bay throughout the footprint.
The Downstream Strategies, LLC organization of Morgantown has formulated a blueprint for the region including the cities of Charles Town and Ranson because the stormwater runs through both towns. Specific and targeted funding for Downstream has been provided by NFWF for restoration programs. Downstream would be the lead environmental organization for stormwater management working with the city manager. Their efforts include an engineering study for Downstream plus its municipal partners.
Downstream always considers the “Human Element” in its projects. “What can we do to enhance the area. We’re looking at walking trails with city planners, natural barriers around the raingardens and wet ponds,” said Marc Glass, project manager. “The design will include new foliage that lets people get close and we’re mindful of safety, too.”
Standing surface water can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests. So it’s important to capture it. During the month of August now, Charles Town, Harbor Engineering and Downstream will be surveying and looking at wetlands. Technical details like soil borings and samples as well as test pits will “see how the water behaves.”
Much of the stream work centers on Evitt’s Run, he said. “During a stormwater surge, we need to ensure the run-off will dissipate.” Evitt’s Run goes through Ranson and then meanders to the borders of Charles Town before joining the Shenandoah River just outside of the towns. The Shenandoah, of course, leads-in to the Chesapeake Bay.
“Evitt’s Run Park will be the crowning achievement of our renovation work,” said Cosentini. “We plan pedestrian parkways, a trail system and a new pond with a walkway that will stretch for nearly a mile within downtown Charles Town.” Cosentini said Evitt’s Run is adjacent to a city maintenance facility and the pond will be created on that site and will be incorporated into our existing park system. It’s also near an abandoned Maytag factory parking area so stormwater runoff from these flat lots can be remediated.
“Evitt’s Run Park will be the crowning achievement of our renovation work,” said Cosentini. “We plan pedestrian parkways, a trail system and a new pond with a walkway that will stetch for nearly a mile within downtown Charles Town.”
Harbor Engineering and the city of Charles Town team will go down 5-feet with a core barrel to pull earth samples. “We call this the strategrify of soil, silt, clay, sand and rock,” said Glass who will also oversee the engineers’ work. Then hydrologists will interpret the findings.
In September, the cities and the environmental groups supported by NFWF grants will look at green infrastructure. There will be some decision points in terms of costs and next steps. The hope is that landscape engineers can then take the hand-off from the environmental studies and start planting!
“We’re in the field now doing surveys,” said Marc Glass from Downstream Strategies (www.downstreamstrategies.com). “Bedrock in the two cities isn’t far below the surface, maybe 15-20 feet. There is also limestone 12 feet below. We have to induce and stimulate rainfall to check absorption, using the Karst geology standard. Is it channelizing? Some of these rock layers are difficult to map.”
Evan Hansen, president of Downstream Strategies has 20 years of experience with Clean Water Act projects. He is also actively involved in Charles Town. “We have completed the initial design and will make an official handover. The Army Corps of Engineers has been involved in permitting. There are some technical hurdles. With video, virtual tours and mapping, we can show them and talk with all stakeholders about the next steps.”
-by Mike Smith