Flooding and stormwater runoff have been consistent problems for neighbors of South View Park off Pine Road in South Middleton Township.
The floodplain can be inundated with rainwater from the mountains, rising levels of the Yellow Breeches Creek and standing water from heavy rain. With nothing but an empty, flat park and a youth baseball field on the land, the water drains toward nearby residences, township MS4 Coordinator Kelly Kurtas said.
It’s a problem Kurtas has thought about addressing while trying to make sure no one else was negatively affected by a possible solution.
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“We wanted to address the issue within the floodplain without affecting people downstream,” she said, adding that the township didn’t want a structure that would cause problems for someone else.
It was in July when a natural solution presented itself to Kurtas. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation was again talking about its Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership that aims to plant trees and help the watershed and general environment.
In addition to helping the watershed, certain trees can help absorb water that in South View Park’s case would otherwise end up in someone’s yard or basement.
South Middleton Township received a grant through the foundation’s program that will fully fund tree planting efforts at South View Park and elsewhere in the township. With funding in place for the trees and the tubes and stakes to keep them upright, the only thing Kurtas needs now are volunteers.
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The township is looking for volunteers to help plant trees at South View Park during a special event at 10 a.m. Oct. 26. Interested volunteers can contact Kurtas at 717-258-5324 or at email@example.com.
Kurtas said about 30 to 40 volunteers could make the effort a breeze, despite the number of trees involved.
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The tree planting in October will only be the first phase of efforts to combat flooding issues at the park, Kurtas said. Though it’s to soon to talk about an overall idea for the park and how forested it will be, the township in this first phase seeks to plant 400 to 500 trees, with the majority going to South View. Any leftover trees could go to the preserve in South Middleton or other areas of the township.
Though 500 trees may seem like a lot for one park, Kurtas said reforestation efforts usually look at 200 trees per acre, and South View is 17.7 acres large.
“We’re only looking about two acres” of coverage, she said.
Kurtas said the plan for the first phase is to place the trees in the outfield of the youth baseball field, which the township no longer uses. More trees will go in an area adjacent to the field, but the area of the park that is being farmed will not be touched in the first phase of the tree planting efforts.
Kurtas said preparation work is needed before the township tackles planting anything in the baseball infield, which still has a sand mound.
Though the efforts are in the beginning stages, Kurtas is hopeful for what it could mean for the area. In battling flooding and stormwater runoff, Kurtas said she’s chosen certain species of trees that can absorb more water and that fit the climate and area. The new trees will be nearly all deciduous trees and include chestnut oak and sycamore trees. Planting efforts will also include shrublike plants.
“The first phase is addressing stormwater issues,” she said. “Doing it naturally (like this) means we’re not pushing the problem to someone else.”
Township supervisor Tom Faley said he’s also hopeful about the outcome of the tree planting at the park.
“I think it’s wonderful because flooding has been an issue there for years,” he said.