Berrywood: A WSA Success Story
The Berrywood community in Severna Park, Maryland was alarmed with the deteriorating water quality in Cattail Creek. It has been ranked year after year as having the worst water quality of any creek in the Magothy River Watershed according to Bob Royer, a Berrywood resident and volunteer water quality monitor for the Magothy River Association.
“It’s really expanded and enhanced the area so that families and kids will be able to come down and have a very enjoyable place to enjoy their creek…”
The Berrywood Community Association (BCA) saw future development upstream as a further threat to water quality and destruction of habitat for fish and wildlife such as Yellow Perch and the Great Blue Heron which make Berrywood their home.
Molly LaChapelle, a long-time Berrywood resident, became a Master Watershed Steward through WSA and wanted to take on the restoration of Cattail Creek as her project. She recognized that this would be a very large and complex project which would require significant effort to fully engage the community to ensure success. LaChapelle was fully aware of previous attempts at restoration projects in the community that did not gain the necessary support to launch the program and was confident that with her recent WSA training she would overcome those challenges. “It’s a very versatile, broad training,” she explained. “A large aspect aspect [of the Master Watershed Stewards program] is leadership training and energizing your community to support any effort. I saw that class as a way to educate myself, make connections, and use it as a base to get a project started.”
Empowered by her new role as a Steward, in 2015 she started looking for grant opportunities that could fund her restoration project. At an WSA event, she met a representative from Maryland Department of Natural Resources who said that their project would be a good fit for their funds. Chesapeake Bay Trust with Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works and Maryland DNR provided the funds in 2016, and Underwood & Associates was awarded the design and construction of the stream restoration.
Construction of the site began in October of 2018 with a three-part approach.
First was the installation of a regenerative stormwater conveyance system which includes raising the creek bed to increase floodplain connectivity and uses weirs to slow down and widen the stream flow and reduce erosion.
Second was removal of the bulkhead along the marina replacing it with a living shoreline surrounded by several large bioretention areas.
Third was the construction of several rain gardens to capture and treat runoff from a nearby access road, parking lot, and basketball court.
“It’s really expanded and enhanced the area so that families and kids will be able to come down and have a very enjoyable place to enjoy their creek,” explained LaChapelle. “We’re lucky that it runs through our community. It’s a great spot to enjoy nature.”
Underwood & Associates were able to finish all major construction by the end of December 2018. They wanted to get the project done before February, when Yellow Perch spawn on the bank of the creek and construction is prohibited. Plantings will be installed in the spring. “I’ve been impressed at WSA’s ability to bring folks together,” said Zoe Clarkwest, a Restoration Coordinator who helped manage the project for WSA, “and with the speed of the project’s completion.”
Royer added, “This project has already made a big difference in the community, and it's all about connections. The restoration successfully reconnected the stream back to the floodplain and in doing so reconnected the people in the in the community back to their stream. They are excited when they see clear running water even after a heavy storm.”
“The restoration will be a teaching opportunity for members of the community to become better stewards of the environment by increasing their awareness of the critical importance of planting native and pollinator friendly plants in their own gardens, saving their tall canopy trees and forested areas, minimize their use of fertilizer and pesticides and manage their stormwater through use of bioretention areas and rain gardens,” said Royer.
“The lasting impacts of this project for Berrywood will be, I believe, more than improved water quality. I’ve seen how the project has motivated and galvanized this community around the issue of water quality and the broader issue of development,” explained Clarkwest. “They have increased awareness and knowledge, but more than that, they are capable of making an impact.”