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Natural vs Overgrown shoreline

Page history last edited by Mary.Ellsworth 3 weeks, 5 days ago


Why are we working in the bioswale? 


Our goal is to remove invasive species that tend to cover and overwhelm native plants.  


In 2009/10 the DC Depart of Transportation transformed our section of the Anacostia River shoreline into our boathouse facility.  DOT cleared and rehabilitated a former vacant marina. The project included establishment of a swale, which was planted with native species along the edge of the river.  The swale catches and slows rainwater runoff, which sinks into the filtering bioswale soils, eventually flowing into the river, cleaned of chemical contaminants such as salt, oils from cars, and residues from exhaust.  Native species include trees (Shadbush, Bald Cypress, Sweetbay Magnolia, and River Birch), flowering shrubs (Virginia Sweetspire, Red Twig Dogwood, Viburnum), flowers and grasses ( Switchgrass, Bulrush, Blue Flag Iris, yellow Tickseed, Goldenrod, and Coneflower).   Bioswales are considered a best practice in the control of water runoff and protection of clean water.


Why do we tackle invasive species in the bioswale? The goal is to maintain a natural edge of the river with a variety of native plants and animals, a grassy environment of suitable scale for our narrow river shoreline.  


In the following pictures you can compare a natural edge of the river and an edge covered in invasive species…

Bald Cypress trees in the bioswale


A healthy edge of the river looks like this…. with a diversity of species. The area can support a wide variety of insect, bird and other animal species.



In the photos below the edge of the river is overgrown with one or two out-of-control species, such as Porcelainberry or Autumn Clematis vines, or tall reed grasses called Phragmites.  Such disturbed environments can not support a variety of native insects, birds and other animals.  

Sweet Autumn Clematis and Porcelainberry smother everything else


Nothing in sight but Bush Honeysuckle (along M St SE)  

Phragmites grows to the exclusion of all else, and very few birds or animals benefit from it.  


Here is an article with more information about the bioswale:  The Bioswale at the Anacostia Community Boathouse




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