Local group forming to protect Still Creek

Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006

Residents are forming a group to protect the stream system that flows through Greenbelt National Park.

Still Creek is a free-flowing tributary of the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River.

It includes all of the land that drains into Still Creek and encompasses about four square miles bounded by Greenbelt Road and Interstate 495 to the north and east, Good Luck Road to the south, and Kenilworth Avenue to the west.

Still Creek is federally owned and managed by the National Park Service.

However, the health of Still Creek and its tributaries continue to be compromised by erosion, trash and water quality problems.

During a rain storm, water flowing off these roads, sidewalks or parking lots will carry with it any trash or other pollutants such as oil, fertilizer or pesticides into the creek.

The storm water runoff can enter the stream with enormous force, causing stream bank erosion. Preliminary surveys by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments indicates that approximately 20 percent of stream banks are experiencing accelerated erosion.

‘‘We don’t have the enough personnel so we rely on volunteers to help keep the park and creek clean,” said Park Manager Fred Cunningham.

The National Park Service in conjunction with The Anacostia Watershed Citizen’s Advisory Committee, the Council of Governments and Summit Fund of Washington are starting a ‘‘Friends of Still Creek” group to focus their efforts on restoring Still Creek and its subwatershed.

‘‘This would be an advocacy group for people who are interested in protecting the Still Creek watershed,” Harriet Phelps of Greenbelt said.

The workshop was the first step in forming a new Still Creek subwatershed group.

A Still Creek
Stakeholders meeting will be held on 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 15 at Greenbelt National Park in the Ranger Station classroom.
This meeting will bring together neighbors and friends of Still Creek to continue their effort to form a Still Creek Subwatershed advocacy group.
For information, call 202-962-3374.
It featured presentations by National Park Service and Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments about Greenbelt Park and the Still Creek subwatershed.

A watershed includes all of the land that drains into a particular body of water and Still Creek is a subwatershed of the Anacostia River watershed. The health of the streams within a watershed is affected by the types of land uses present and by the actions of the people living, working and recreating in the watershed.

With major funding provided by the Summit Fund of Washington, they decided to choose Still Creek as one of three targeted subwatersheds.

‘‘The National Park Service has a mission which is to preserve everything in the park for future generations,” said Ranger Kevin Barry. ‘‘Still Creek runs through the park and we are interested in people helping the watershed.”

The theory is if the park is clean, trash won’t go down into the stream.

The focus is to get a group involved by becoming an advocate for both the creek and the park by getting involved in activities such as tree plantings, stream cleanups and fish re-introductions, improving the health, beauty and ecology of the Still Creek subwatershed.

The Anacostia Watershed Citizens’ advisory committee believes the restoration of Still Creek is important and critical as a tributary to the Anacostia River and it is vital to restore the health of one of the two rivers flowing through the nation’s capitol.

Alan Turnbull of Greenbelt said he is looking forward to what he can do to help.

‘‘It’s the little rivers like Still Creek which determine whether the big rivers are healthy and normal,” Turnbull said.

E-mail Michael Zimmerman at mzimmerman@gazette.net.