In 2010 Onondaga Creek Conservation Council started with a simple goal of establishing a self-sustaining, naturalized creek corridor, full of native species to create a riparian buffer in a historically channelized, mowed, fenced 3/4 mile stretch of urban Onondaga Creek.
With the help of a Climate Grant from Freshwater Future, this project took action. As of late this past summer, they planted 250 native species that thrived despite high spring and summer temperatures and drought. Over 2000 planted wildflowers flourished, providing a native seed stock in the corridor. By working to repair the corridor, they hope to provide a high quality habitat, stream shading, yearround CO2 absorption, and a reduction of storm water overflow into the creek.
The project helped the community as much as it helped the creek. Stacey Smith, manager of the project, shared her thoughts, “I am a low-income, single-parent mama. What matters most to me is the well-being of nature and the well-being of children. This habitat project intertwines healing, nature and children in a simple, embodied way.
The days I like best are when I am working alone in a plot and 4-5 kids come walking along. Curiously they will ask, hey what you doing there? I respond with a smile, ‘planting trees and flowers for the birds and animals. Do you want to plant a flower?’ The answer is always yes. Sometimes the kids stay an hour, sometimes four hours. They dig, plant, weed, laugh and learn. Often later on, a child will stop back with a sibling or cousin and say look! I planted that tree and all those flowers. ‘Isn’t it beautiful! Do you want to help?’ Those are the days that bring hope and deep satisfaction.
Our little grassroots group is so very grateful to Freshwater Future for funding this project twice and bringing such goodness to this urban stretch of Onondaga Creek.”
Additionally, community member Walter Eiland stated, “I believe programs like this give a sense of ownership to those that participate in it and encourage others that live in the community to get involved.”