Resistance Futile?

Emerald ash borer beetles target ash trees, like this one at Fairmount Park’s Smith Playground. | Photo by Christian Hunold

Tiny green beetles are coming to kill our ash trees

You might expect something as scary as the emerald ash borer to be much larger than it is. The shiny green beetles from East Asia top out at about a centimeter, but they’re enough to bring down an 80-foot ash tree as their populations explode.

“Once they show up, the trees in an area just start to crash really rapidly because they get so overwhelmed,” says Curtis Helm, Project Manager in Philadelphia Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry and Ecosystem Management unit.

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Drier Ground

Venice Island's underground basin can temporarily store up to four million gallons of stormwater runoff. | Photos courtesy The Philadelphia Water Department

In the works for the better part of a decade, Venice Island opened in early October. The five-acre site is sandwiched between the Lock and Cotton Street bridges in Manayunk, and lies downhill of Manayunk’s stormwater flow, which resulted in storm-induced flooding and combined sewer overflows (CSOs). To address this problem, the Philadelphia Water Department and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation collaborated with the Manayunk Development Corporation to demolish the existing Venice Island Recreation Center and rebuild to include an underground basin that can temporarily store up to four million gallons of stormwater runoff and a pump house with a sloping green roof. The site’s other green infrastructure includes a rain garden, porous pavement and tree trenches.

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Lending a Hand

Library activist engages her community
with an award-winning garden

Sheila Washington joined Friends of the Haddington Library after protesting to save it from closure in 2008. | Photo by Jared Gruenwald

On a typical Saturday morning, Sheila Washington can be found in the garden at the Haddington Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, watering flowers and teaching children about caring for plants. The garden opened in 2009 with a few rose bushes to beautify the neighborhood library, seated on top of a hill. As the President of the Friends of the Haddington Library, Washington organized volunteers to revitalize the acre and a quarter of land that the library sits on, and it is now filled with roses, azaleas and lilacs. The garden became the pride of the neighborhood when it was recognized by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society with the Community Greening Honoree Award in 2011.

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