Communicating with Mother Nature
by Aggie Perilli
The Grandview Chase Condominium Development (GCCD) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, owns approximately 27 acres of rolling lawns bordered by a field with a stream running through it. Over the past two years, GCCD board members Mark Wiker and I pursued a federal grant to transform GCCD’s unsustainable field of lawn into beautiful regenerative woods and meadows.
Rewarded for our initiatives, this past spring, the GCCD townhouse association received a grant worth $66,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to restore GCCD’s riparian buffer with native trees, meadow grasses, and rain or wildflower gardens.
GCCD’s grant is part of the Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center‘s initiative to “green the lower Susquehanna River,” where agriculture and housing developments have been contributing to storm-water runoff and other pollutants. NFWF chose GCCD to model regenerative landscaping for urban and suburban areas.
Already GCCD was engaging in green lawn care with direction from Dr. David Dobbins, Emeritus Professor of plant anatomy and development, morphology, and horticulture at Millersville University in Pennsylvania.
In June, to build on GCCD’s progress, Kate Austin of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation introduced residents to Penn State environmentalists Matt Royer, Director of the Agriculture and Environment Center; Allyson Muth, Director of Forest Stewardship; Jim Finley, Ph.D., Professor in Forest Resources; Sarah Hurteau, Research Faculty member in Wildlife Biology; and Emily Carlson, a graduate student representing Brian Orland, Distinguished Professor of Landscape Architecture. Together we reviewed residents’ landscaping vision and concerns.
In July, during our second of three planning sessions, Kate and GCCD’s Penn State partners discussed ways to restore our riparian buffer to prevent storm-water runoff and help shade and protect our fish. We considered plant communities that would attract wildlife and improve the quality of water that flows from GCCD’s stream into the Susquehanna River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
Today GCCD is home to red foxes, great blue herons, pheasants, ducks, tree-climbing groundhogs, and more. Greening all of GCCD is expected to draw several varieties of salamanders, frogs, turtles, birds, and other wildlife.
In August Brian Orland and other Penn State partners gave residents architectural models to use to help design GCCD’s plantings. A refinement of residents’ designs will be planted this spring by LandStudies, an environmental planning and restoration firm.
GCCD’s neighbors share their enthusiasm for restoring and protecting wild ecosystems that will improve the quality of all life in their area.
How are you restoring and protecting the wild ecosystems that improve the quality of all life in your area?