Eyes of Paint Branch

Conservation, Education, and Action for the Paint Branch and Its Watershed

Inventory of Biodiversity and Significant Habitats in the Paint Branch Watershed

By John M. Parrish, Field Botanist/Ecologist 2001

3.2 Management needs for Maintaining the Native Biodiversity within the Paint Branch Watershed

  1. To stem Habitat Loss
    • Preserve as much remaining forest acreage as possible. This can be accomplished through outright parkland acquisition and through conservation easements.
    • Design development projects to avoid or minimize direct forest acreage impacts.
    • Allow for natural succession to “heal” the land. Reduce unnecessary mowing on public and private property.
    • Replant open areas with native trees , shrubs and wildflowers.
    • Landscape public and private buildings with native species.

  2. To stem Forest Fragmentation
    • Preserve connecting corridors between larger forest tracts. This can be accomplished by parkland acquisition and conservation easements.
    • No new roads through existing forest habitats.
    • Design development projects to avoid impacts that would reduce forest acreage.
    • Prioritize protection of highest quality forest stands (forested wetlands, mature forest, etc.)
    • Allow for natural succession to reforest areas surrounding existing forest remnants.
    • Plant native species in reforestation projects adjacent to existing forest stands.
    • Close unnecessary roads and trails and allow them to revert to forest. This may involve tearing up old paved roads.
    • Avoid construction of new trails or other facilities within the forest interior.

  3. To stem Invasive Species
    • First and foremost, follow recommendations for #1 and #2.
    • Avoid soil disturbance. Most weedy aggressive invasive species thrive in disturbed soils.
    • Avoid disturbance to forest canopy. Most invasive species prefer increased light exposure.
    • Hand remove exotic vines, shrubs, trees, and herbs. I do not recommend chemical herbicides due to their side effects on wildlife, soils, and aquatic life. Utilize gloves, shovels, pruners, saws, rakes and such to remove invasive species.
    • Landscape with native species. Many of our worst invasives entered natural areas from suburban plantings.

  4. To stem ORVs
    • Place barriers (large rocks, logs) to impede motorized vehicles at potential entry points.
    • Create a “neighborhood watch team” and provide contact information through Eyes of Paint Branch newsletter so that citizens can report violators to police.
    • Publish articles about the destructiveness of ORVs in the EOPB newsletter to educate the public.

  5. To stem Sand & Gravel Mining
    • Monitor and report violations of sediment control and runoff from existing operations. Recommend that violators revegetate and stabilize soils at the borders of their properties to prevent offsite run-off impacts.

  6. To stem Storm Water Run-off and Impervious Surfaces
    • Implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) in suburban areas that were built before BMPs were used. Encourage the use of BMPs that infiltrate stormwater run-off.
    • Encourage homeowners to reduce or eliminate lawn fertilizer.
    • Encourage homeowners to replace lawns with native perennial herbs, shrubs, and trees to reduce run-off and increase infiltration of groundwater.
    • Encourage businesses and homeowners to infiltrate roof, driveway and parking run-off into lawns, grassy swales, and other pervious surfaces to reduce storm stream flow velocities. This will also serve to minimize thermal impacts to local streams and filter pollutants from run-off.

  7. To stem Cumulative Impacts
    • In my professional opinion, this is the most important yet least addressed category of impacts adversely impacting native biodiversity. Education of the general public is key if we are to slow the pace of habitat destruction around us. We need to stress that our current state of environmental degradation did not happen all at once. Rather it has been the accumulated effects of millions of smaller impacts that have added up over time. Every individual, home or business owner, and government official can contribute to either the restoration and protection, or degradation of our natural environment. We are all continually, on a daily basis, making choices that impact the environment. Therefore, we all must be conscious that even our smallest actions are important and play a significant role in the healing or destruction of the “natural” quality of life. Our air and water quality is directly affected by the accumulation of each of our daily actions. Do we drive our car everywhere or do we sometimes choose to walk or ride the bike? Do we use lawn and garden chemicals that run off and kill aquatic life or do we choose to garden organically? Do we dump piles of yard waste in the local park or do we recycle our leaves and grass clippings? Millions of such decisions, if changed, could halt and reverse previous destruction. Eyes of Paint Branch can continue to play an important role in educating the public about the importance of these “cumulative impacts” by publishing articles on how everyone can simplify their life styles and avoid and minimize impacts to our remaining natural areas. The quality of life within the Paint Branch Watershed depends directly on preservation and restoration of forests, wetlands and native biodiversity.