What is a watershed? A watershed is an area of land where all of the water that drains off of it goes into the same place: a stream, river, lake, or ocean. Our 30-square mile watershed begins in Montgomery County and continues through Philadelphia County before flowing into the Delaware River. We are all about connecting people to their creeks, the local waterways that run through backyards, parks, and communities. In 2019, the links we formed with our partners allowed us to improve the health and vitality of our watershed.
Partnerships recognize a simple but powerful concept: what benefits me benefits you. This is a fantastic starting place to consider our relationship to our watershed. We can wrap our heads around parks because we can wrap our hands around trees. Here’s what we were able to accomplish last year thanks to the organizations, businesses, governments agencies, and volunteers who collaborated with us:
➤243 Annual Donors
➤45 Partner Alliance Members
➤1410 Volunteer Hours
➤4700 Program Attendees
➤2169 Native Plants Planted
➤72 Free Programs Hosted
➤22 Stream Keepers
Last year we used art and creativity to expand our reach and connect people young and old to nature. Through projects and partnerships like the Tacony Birds murals, the Creekforce One van, Tacony Creek Park Stories project, Tacony Creek Park Photo Contest, Tacony Creek Park Oral History Project, and updates to our mobile education center, the Creekmobile, we have kept things exciting and have offered a variety of ways to engage. Evan Lovett of V.U.R.T. Creative, who decorated the Creekmobile and created the Tacony Birds murals, says: “It’s really important for everyone to realize that nature isn’t something in a distant land far away.”
We’ve also been busy on water quality improvement work on Jenkintown Creek, a 4-mile long headwater creek which begins in Abington, Pennsylvania and flows into the Tookany Creek. Since 2014, through the Delaware River Watershed Initiative established by the William Penn Foundation, we worked with a variety of organizations and businesses to install 7 green stormwater features planted along 1500 linear feet of waterways and restored wetlands.
We’ve been able to improve Tacony Creek Park, too, with clean-ups and plantings throughout the year. Tacony Creek neighbor and volunteer Maria Vásquez says “I walk in Tacony Creek Park at seven in the morning and I feel welcomed because I see young people and families walking with their pets. You can see how much the park has improved.” That’s why we’ve focused on improvements to Tabor Road Gateway of the park in 2019, installing boulders, native plants, flowers, and a gate to prevent ATVs.
The spirit of partnership is the current that empowers our collaborations to steward, protect, restore, and advocate for the health of our watershed. We are thankful for everyone that made last year a high watermark year and look forward to deepening our partnerships and forging new relationships in the year to come. Our connection to nature and a desire to protect it sustains us as we look toward 2020.