Pretty island, isn’t it? Well, folks, this old squirrel has got news for you: That’s not just a pretty face. That’s a working island!
This is a suburban pond, one that catches the runoff from our streets and parking lots. And as you probably know, those places aren’t the cleanest to pick up a squashed acorn or the errant worm in a rainstorm. When it rains, that dirt washes to the streams, the rivers, then the Chesapeake Bay.
This here little pond is a catchment for dirt before it even gets out of town! The plants on the island raft are specially chosen because they don’t need their roots in soil. Instead, they float out there in the pond and pick minerals out of the dirty swirling water, minerals that would be harmful to the bay. Humans are calling this ‘Floating Water Treatment’ for urban runoff.
This FWT raft has a real mix of plants, though we only identified two of them because none of us squirrels were willing to go swimming. You have thin-leaved cattails on the left and in the middle is Pickerelweed, Pontederia cordite, the purple flowered plant.
Pickerelweed is one of those that really likes the water. Half of its four foot tall stem will be underwater.
Ol’ Wally here knew a little something about plants that cleaned up water, because they are planted in ‘rain gardens’. And of course any little backyard pond has floating plants in it, lilies and such. But I hadn’t heard tell of floating plants taking on city streets.
It takes more effort for you humans to collect and build these rafts, but we squirrels think it’s a good idea. Thanks for helping us out!