We would like to increase the number of native and edible plants in Walnut Creek Park to reduce mowing and runoff and increase habitat, connection to nature and beauty. We welcome the opportunity to present a more formal proposal to the county ASAP, so we can begin planting while trees are still dormant. We have gathered robust community support and suspect more volunteers will happily join when we launch the project.
We have prioritized the parking areas and roadsides for several reasons. We find the mowing along the roadsides to be excessive. Not only does it have a financial impact with staff and equipment hours, but mowing the approximately 30 foot swathe emits fossil fuels and leaves bare soil lead which leads to increased runoff and erosion. We propose planting trees and shrubs such as blackberry, sumac, locust and redbud. At the bottom of the hill there is a boggy area that would benefit from a grove of native pawpaws. Park visitors and wildlife can enjoy their fruits and they will minimize the standing water. Let the woods come closer to the road to create valuable wildlife habitat and a place where humans can meet nature or even see it when they’re driving by.
The first parking area lacks shade and is often swampy. Each fishing bench needs a tree by it for shade and beauty. A tree like a willow, poplar or alder should go in the boggy middle of the parking lot by the dock and along the path to the trails to the right. These areas are always muddy so good water loving trees would thrive here. Beavers are ever-present, so wire guards will be necessary.
The second parking area has bare, steep slopes that should not have to be mowed. We would like to plant 20 standard sized pear root stocks, 10 on each side and a guild around each one with native mints and flowers and herbs. On these rootstocks, we will graft on site with very productive fireblight resistant pear varieties proven to succeed in our area the year after we plant the rootstock. They will grow fast and only need a small fence around them the first three or four years to protect from browsing deer. And within 5 years they will be feeding folks with their fruit. When we prepare the site to plant we will dig a simple swale to collect water from the slope so the trees and herbs will not need watering unless it’s a severe draught. we will also mulch well with wood chips after planting. As it is now, the sides of the parking lot are not easy to mow because of the steepness of the slope.
We are confident we could support this project with volunteer labor and donated plants. We hope the county could reallocate funds currently spend on mowing to other initiatives like trail maintenance or park clean up. We hope that you will consider allowing this endeavor to make improvements to Walnut Creek Park that will beautify spaces, benefit the environment and increase the appeal to the Albemarle community.