Julia Bebout, a student at Lehigh University is pursuing a B.S. In Earth and Environmental Science and is a current Land Manager this summer at Althouse Arboretum, which is managed by GreenAllies. Julia’s work this summer is focused on submitting the Althouse Arboretum for an ArbNet arboretum accreditation, creating an edible forest riparian buffer, and improving a number of gardens and forest spaces. When asked more about her project, this is what Julia had to say,
“The Sussel Park pond property currently has a couple of likely eutrophic ponds and a lot of ash trees. Eutrophication is an overload of nutrients that cause algae to flourish in the summer, using up the dissolved oxygen in the pond water, and thereby killing aquatic life in the pond. The ash trees are another problem because they are all expected to die soon due to a pest, the Emerald Ash Borer. This non-native pest cannot be controlled cheaply, so part of the project involves planning a new edible forest to act as a riparian buffer in this soon-to-be field.”
Julia then went onto explain what exactly a riparian buffer is and the benefits it would bring to the Arboretum by stating,
“A riparian buffer is an area with vegetation that can block organic matter and nutrients from flowing into the pond. This plan would protect the pond and also provide an exciting new educational possibility through the creation of an edible forest, but we're still planning more! Once the riparian buffer is in place, the pond will be healthier and able to support more aquatic wildlife, from fish to water birds. The park also has an area that may be considered a wetland, and will require a wetland delineation prior to any planting. This possibly wetland will provide an incredible opportunity for students to learn about the importance of wetlands in ecosystems. The property will, therefore, include a stream, pond, and wetland for students to compare and study. This park, and aquatic education center, will also include a boardwalk and dock to provide students with up-close interactions with the wetland and pond flora and fauna!”
Julia’s role in the installment of this project has been studying the maps of the property, designing potential layouts of the area, and researching and creating a planting list of potential native trees, shrubs, and perennials for the best riparian buffer and edible forest possible!
At the end of the summer Julia will present the project proposal to the Upper Pottsgrove Township Open Space Board for approval before it goes on to the Board of Commissioners. Currently the plan is still in development, and Julia and advisors have been working with a grant writer, Michael Lane, and the Upper Pottsgrove Township Manager, Carol Lewis, to find funding and ensure that all permitting requirements are met before we begin shaping this plan into reality.
Overall, Julia summed up the purpose of this project perfectly by explaining that it aims to conserve a beautiful park for the protection of wildlife while also creating a space for students and the community to learn about ecological systems, interact closely with nature, and enjoy spending time fishing, hiking, or just observing a healthy and diverse Ecosystem.
The work Julia and those standing behind her are doing is extraordinary and will bare great outcomes!