Cows and Clean Water, Part 4
Cows and Clean Water, Part 5

Watershed Hero: Shirley Stark

ShirleyStarkspeakingatMemberMeetingShirley Stark addresses volunteers at a recent CBF member meeting. Photo courtesy of Andrew Bliss/CBF Staff.

Located in South Central Pennsylvania across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg, Lemoyne—a borough of less than 5,000 people—is becoming a stormwater management leader and Shirley Stark is working to keep it that way.

With forward thinking council members, what started as a Downtown Revitalization back in 2006 has led to the construction of street berms containing rain gardens along the borough’s Market Street. The rain gardens capture polluted water running down the road, filter out litter and pollution, and let water infiltrate into the ground—instead of flowing untreated into the Susquehanna River.

Shirley Stark, a Lemoyne resident and CBF volunteer is leading a charge to raise public awareness about these rain gardens and to keep them maintained. A long-time native plant gardener and advocate, she first made the connection between native plants, rain gardens, and polluted urban water while making a video for the StormwaterPA website. Stark has always loved gardening, but was really motivated when she realized that gardening can help clean and protect our water. 

Rain garden maintenance is critical because the native plants require different upkeep than most landscaping. If not properly maintained, then the rain gardens may not work efficiently. Unfortunately, Lemoyne was having difficulty training its staff to properly care for the rain gardens as well as paying for their upkeep. Knowing that long-term maintenance is critical to the success of the gardens, Stark organized a group of volunteers to maintain the Market Street rain gardens.   

Thus far, Stark is finding success! In September, she organized a fall maintenance day with more than 60 volunteers who planted 300 plants and removed a truckload of weeds. She plans to have at least two maintenance events each year and potentially a third in the summer. Beyond maintenance, Stark is hoping to build public awareness of the Market Street rain gardens, stormwater pollution, and what people can do at home to improve water quality.

—Andrew Bliss

Learn about CBF's clean water efforts through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprintour best hope for a saved Bay!

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