By Jean Cox, VP of Friends of Pinchgut Creek
TRUSSVILLE – When you think of pollution harming our waterways, do you think of litter or industrial discharge? While these are serious concerns, the greatest source of pollution in Alabama rivers is sediment. Sediment can enter our rivers from land disturbances such as construction sites. However, much of it is caused by bank erosion that can cause sections of riverbank and creekbanks collapse and fall into the water. When water is clouded with sediment wildlife suffers, and when that sediment settles downstream it can alter the channel of the river.
When we remove forests and pour concrete, we are speeding up the rate at which rainwater runs across the land and into the water. In urban areas, this rapid moving stormwater rips apart the banks of our rivers and streams creating erosion and sediment.
The roots of a tree are strong and beautifully designed to dig into and hold onto the soil. When planted next to a river those roots can hold the banks, even when the river is raging and trying to tear them apart. Grass might have roots, but those roots are shallow and don’t serve the purpose as well as the roots from an established tree. Our creekbanks and riverbanks need trees.
The roots and canopy of trees a mile away from the water’s edge are also doing their part to protect our rivers. Rain is drastically slowed and filtered when it falls on trees instead of solid surfaces like rooftops and driveways. If you live in Trussville, your yard and rooftop are in the Cahaba River Watershed, the area of land that drains into the Cahaba River. If you are in a neighboring city, you might be in the Coosa or Black Warrior watershed. When you plant trees and shrubs anywhere in your watershed, you are helping to protect your river. For the gardeners that are excited about hitting up the garden centers and doing some early Spring planting, try to fit trees in your planting plans. We need the trees; as long they aren’t planted too close to your house, the road, or a powerline, go for it! Plant all the trees and shrubs you can. If anyone tells you that you don’t need more plants, just let them know you are doing your part to save the planet. Our urban forest needs those trees and so does our river.
She needs the earth to hold and shelter her on her journey.
She needs the roots of trees to hold on to the earth when she swells and dances,
And she needs the canopy of her forest to slow the rain that becomes her or destroys her.
Trussville’s Arbor Week, the last full week of February, is a great time to plant new trees. Tree Talk at the Library with Henry Hughes will be Thursday, February 23rd, and the Tree Commission will be giving away tree saplings on Saturday, February 25th, from 9am-12pm at the Mall Pavillion.