Help Salmon, Plant a Shrub
by Lisa Stiffler, Staff Writer
Grab your garden gloves and trowel -- new research from the University of Connecticut zeroes in on ways to tweak your landscape to better control the stormwater runoff that carries pollution into streams and Puget Sound. An article about the research is in the publication Environmental Science and Technology, which also ran the original scientific article (but you need a subscription to read more than the abstract).
The gist of it is this: By creating some very shallow depressions in your landscaping and planting them with hardy grasses, shrubs and trees in well-draining soil and covering the ground with a thin layer of mulch, you can catch and slow the flow of rainwater. This "rain garden" gives the stormwater a chance to soak into the dirt, helping trap pollutants and preventing the water from harmings streams where salmon and other cool creatures chill out.
If you want to create a rain garden there are lots of resources available to do it yourself. Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources had a particularly detailed Web site with lots of useful information.
You can see rain gardens in practice here in Seattle -- check out the city's DOT project to control stormwater. And the government's Puget Sound Action Team has a good page with some before-and-after photos.
If you're still not sure why stormwater matters, there's been some interesting research on salmon mortality and the potential links with stormwater pollution by Nat Scholz and others at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (part of NOAA) in Seattle. We've written about it and here's the center's page on it, including fascinating videos of the affected fish.
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