Neighbors help plant 100 trees at Rock Lane Park!

Julie Slavet
May 12, 2014

Rock Lane Park is a neighborhood gem in Cheltenham. Its name comes from the majestic schist rocks that form the bed of Rock Creek. On the first Saturday of May, TTF and 25 area residents gathered to plant 100 trees along the stream, adding 15,000 square feet of riparian buffer to this Tookany Creek tributary.

Rock Lane Park Buffer Planting 2014
Alex Cooper demonstrates proper tree planting with the assistance of Arcadia University Biology professor Dr. Kurt Ahrens, who explains the importance of adding Mycorrhiza

Funded by a TreeVitalize grant, administered by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), TTF identified this park as a priority for increased riparian vegetation with the guidance of the Cheltenham EAC‘s Barb Duffy. TTF worked with Cheltenham Township and PHS to obtain the necessary plants and materials, and canvassed local residents to participate in the planting effort.

This riparian project is the second TTF planting along Rock Creek. The first buffer was planted upstream at Cedarbrook Middle School in 2011.

Rock Lane Park Buffer Planting 2014
Earl Stamm and Cheltenham Commissioner plant trees

Volunteers of all ages came to help — from PHS Tree Tenders, Camp Anglewood, Cedarbrook Middle School, and the neighborhood. Professionals from Arcadia University, Langan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local landscaping companies showed that their devotion to environmental improvements goes beyond their day jobs. “It feels amazing to be outside planting,” said Amy McLean from Langan Engineering.

Rock Lane Park is the final daylighted reach of Rock Creek, where the stream enters a culvert at the end of the park until its confluence with the Tookany Creek. Over the past 50 years, the park has undergone a drastic transformation  Homes that once lined the banks were removed after repeated destruction from flood waters, and the vacant land became Rock Lane Park.

The mowed park plus the new buffer will continue to provide recreation space for people and dogs, but the newly planted trees will return the land to what it once was – a forested valley. The added shade will improve life both in the stream and for visitors to the park.

Rock Lane Park Buffer Planting 2014
Lisa Donahue and Cheltenham EAC Chair Lorna Rosenberg take a break to pose for a photo

“The trees are going to look fabulous,” said Christine Johnson Kramer, whose home overlooks the park. She and a dozen other neighbors busily planted all Saturday, and remained at the park until every last tree was watered, and looked healthy and happy. As these trees grow, bloom and develop they will add much beauty to the park. The 20 species of tulip-beech-maple dominant forest trees were selected because these are native to the area and will add the most visual and natural value.

Rock Lane Park Buffer Planting 2014

If you’d like to learn more about the tree species and care of this buffer, stay tuned for our Rock Lane Riparian Buffer Guidance. With another riparian buffer completed (this is number 4!), we look forward to learning about how these buffers improve water quality. If you’d like to learn about becoming a volunteer water quality monitor at this or another site, contact Alex Cooper at

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