Waynesboro marks transformation of Mulberry Run Wetlands

WaynesboroAfter three years, a manmade haven for both wildlife and the community is thriving at Waynesboro’s Mulberry Run Wetlands.

The project was created to prevent polluted runoff from entering the South River and Chesapeake Bay. Its success comes ahead of Virginia’s General Assembly session, in which state legislators will determine future investment in similar projects across Virginia supported by the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund.

In 2016 the City of Waynesboro and engineers from Timmons Group along with local contractor, Linco Inc., transformed an existing turf-lined facility built to reduce neighborhood flooding into 10 acres of constructed wetlands.

The plants have since filled in, and the site is now an important new amenity for Waynesboro.

“Mulberry Run Wetlands has become a valued and well-used resource for local residents seeking a quiet place for a walk, as well as nature lovers looking for the variety of insects, birds, and plants that a restored ecosystem offers,” said Trafford McRae, the stormwater program manager for Waynesboro Public Works. “It really is a great example of how a community space can be created while also meeting the goals of reducing water pollution and improving wildlife habitat.”

The wetlands are named after a creek that is piped downstream of the site, which had been forgotten for decades. Runoff is now directed through a series of pools planted with grasses, shrubs, and trees native to Virginia, which filter and absorb the sediment and excess nutrients before they reach the river. This new habitat also provides food and shelter for a host of wildlife. Naturalists report spotting green herons, Carolina wrens, red-wing blackbirds, many species of butterflies, and more.

Wild Ginger Field Services, a local business, is helping manage the site to create healthy habitat. That includes removal of invasive species before they have the chance to become fully established and threaten native species.

The wetlands were funded by a state grant from the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) and a loan from the Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund.

“SLAF grants help local governments reduce polluted runoff and create a host of other benefits for communities from Waynesboro to Fairfax to Virginia Beach,” said Peggy Sanner, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Assistant Director and Senior Attorney. “Cities and counties can’t do it all on their own. It is essential that our state legislators offer strong support for SLAF in the upcoming legislative session.”

Since its completion in 2016 the Mulberry Run Wetlands project has been recognized by the EPA as an innovative environmental success and received a habitat creation award from the Chesapeake Stormwater Network.

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