Boy Scouts of America: Swan Creek Park Rain Garden Project - 2010

As all of the Dane County Environmental Council members are aware, rain garden development and restoration is becoming increasingly important as development pressures and population growth continue to endanger the groundwater supply for many communities and increase flooding risk from storm water runoff. My goal in this project involving two rain gardens at Swan Creek Park in Fitchburg was to not only help the park officials resolve their own problems with stagnant water pools in the park, but also to create a rain garden display in a busy public location with an associated walking path to inspire others to install their own gardens at home and also to teach the citizens more about conservation and our limited resources. Due to the wide variety of plants we selected for the garden and the excellent overall plant survival we had, we were able to showcase the different rain garden plants in a more mature state and ease the process of plant selection for others.

During the project phases including initial site selection, site design, obtaining City of Fitchburg and Parks Department approval, plant selection and finally project completion, we faced a number of interesting challenges where I learned a lot about working through and overcoming such issues in the future. One of our biggest obstacles was the process of obtaining City of Fitchburg approval including the City Engineer and Parks department. The original plan called for an elevated wooden walkway with concrete footers through one garden, but we ended up with a large circular stone paver path as the wooden walkway was not approved for aesthetic reasons, disabled access problems and concerns about rain garden drainage. Ultimately, we did obtain approval and Parks department assistance with mulch disposal, watering, etc. Our other great challenge was stagnant water/water pools in one garden that did not even allow access to the soil for planting. With the help of local nurseries, UW arboretum personnel, internet sites dedicated to rain gardens and good luck we were able to dry the garden up with moss and sunlight, completing both gardens. Long term, our biggest challenge will be maintenance, as the path will require plant pruning on occasion, especially along the walking path, and weed infiltration may also cause plant death. I am hopeful that my Troop and other BSA members may be able to carry on this task for years to come.

I want to again thank all of the members of the Dane County Environmental Council and Nancy Hylbert for providing the necessary grant funding to complete the work and also opening the pathway for me to complete my Eagle Scout requirements. I am receiving the Eagle Scout award, scouting’s highest honor, on March 13, 2010, and the Council members all have played a large part in this day.

Matthew J. Stoiber
Edgewood High School Class of 2011
St. Maria Goretti Troop 102

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