Environment Erie

St. George students helping environment in Millcreek

Sep 13, 2013 | Posted in News, Restoration Success Stories

Along busy Peach Street, partially hidden by pine trees, in a slight dip in the ground between St. George Catholic Church and St. George School, a new rain garden exists.

Environment Erie worked with students to create the St. George Rain Catcher, which was dedicated Thursday afternoon. Earlier in the day, eighth-graders put the finishing touches on the urban rain garden along the 5100 block of Peach Street that will help naturally reduce runoff and pollution.

"It's helping our environment," eighth-grader Emily Zeigler, 13, said.

The 69 students began work on the project when they were in seventh grade.

"We're going to use it as an outdoor classroom," Principal Larry Neubauer said. "Kids are going to come out and learn about the environment."

Zeigler said they've already researched topics like native plants that would not only look pretty in the garden but also benefit wildlife.

"I think (it) will attract butterflies, birds, rabbits, possibly snakes," she said.

Matthew Pluta, the Environment Erie program manager who worked with the students, said plants in the garden are all native to this area and include switch grass, serviceberry and black-eyed Susan.

In addition to attracting wildlife, the plants will require less maintenance, he said.

The rain garden also will help reduce pollution. Pluta said stormwater can carry pollution from roofs and paved surfaces into nearby water sources like Walnut Creek and eventually into Lake Erie.

The garden will soak up and filter runoff, making the water entering the creek and lake cleaner for fish and humans.

Pluta said Paul J. Wurst Landscape Contractors helped with the rain garden's installation.

Environment Erie received a $5,000 grant for the project from the Water Resources Education Network, Pluta said. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Sea Grant also supported the garden.

DANA MASSING can be reached at 870-1729 or by e-mail. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNmassing.