Buhr Park Wet Meadow II

Buhr Park Web Meadow II
A good investment keeps growing.

By Celia Larsen

If you’ve consistently read the Wild Ones Journal over the years, you’ve almost certainly read about the Buhr Park Children’s Wet Meadow Project (BPCWMP) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1992, a group of preschoolers and their teacher, Jeannine Palms, adopted Mallets Creek, a 3/4-mile walk from the park, and the home base of the school. The children spent time playing around the creek in all four seasons and became good observers. They noticed how muddy the creek became whenever heavy rain fell. They realized, with the help of their teacher, that the water that dumped into the storm drains in Buhr Park was the same water coming out of pipes flowing into the creek. Jeannine explained to them that in natural areas, wetlands hold and filter water before it reaches creeks and rivers. “Why don’t we make one here?” asked one of the preschoolers. Thus, the Super Swampers were formed and the original Buhr Park Children’s Wet Meadow was initiated. The group received a $100 Seeds for Education Grant from Wild Ones in 1997, and as Jeannine has pointed out, this grant gave the group legitimacy as they approached other groups for grants and donations.

 Today, the original meadow is still growing strong, and in the fall of 2003, work was begun on the Buhr Park Wet Meadow II. This new project consists of a three-tiered catch basin designed to be able to capture and filter as much water as could come from a “100-year” rainstorm. Many of the original Super Swampers have been involved in this new project and, as with the first project, it has truly taken a community to see it to completion. Landscape architects, city planners, and bulldozer operators have all done their parts. Musicians performed concerts to help raise funds. Volunteers planted nearly 6,000 plants, all grown by high-school students from locally collected seed. A neighboring family volunteered to drag sprinklers around, hooked up to their own water, to help the young plants become established. The BPCWMP has raised $41,000 through their fund-raising and grantwriting efforts. Some of the grant monies have provided for an education coordinator for specific projects, and hundreds of local students have used the sites for nature study. They have also paid for a master plan for storm water management for the entire park.


Blossom children wading in the snowmelt
and rainwater just before it runs down the storm drain
to the right, in Buhr Park.

Katherine Szocik was a 4-year-old preschooler when the original Super Swampers group was   formed. She remembers oozing in the mud on planting day for the first meadow. She has   helped for years now with the maintenance of the first meadow, and has consistently attended the monthly Super Swampers meetings. Now as a middle-school student, she is witnessing the blossoming of the second wet meadow. Katherine is one of many of the young people whose views about nature have been at least partially shaped by their involvement in the stewarding of the land at Buhr Park.

Jeannine is careful to point out that there is no end to these projects; the learning occurs during the process, while squishing in the mud or watching the annual burn. To borrow from those credit card commercials: Shovel: $40. Wheelbarrow: $120. Bulldozing: $6,000. Instilling a life-long love of nature in the next generation: priceless. Wild Ones has obviously gotten a great return on our original $100 investment.

For further information, contact Jeannine Palms at jeannine@wetmeadow.org, or visit www.wetmeadow.org.

Celia Larsen is a member of the Ann Arbor (MI) Chapter.
This article appeared in the May/June 2005 issue of the Wild Ones Journal.