Restoration may be a marathon, but it sure is fun

Different Kinds of Growth

It is that time of year when the world has transformed back to green, and we finally get to enjoy the splendor of a landscape in full bloom. This growth is fully welcome after months of cold and extended darkness. However, there are undesirable guests that join as part of the package of Spring- invasive species.


June 2018: Japanese Knotweed cut down in preparation for riparian buffer planting at the Forestbrooke Conservation Area.

June 2018: Japanese Knotweed cut down in preparation for riparian buffer planting at the Forestbrooke Conservation Area.

An invasive species is a species that is not found in a specific area naturally, but has been brought here (either intentionally or unintentionally) from another place by various routes. Here in Pennsylvania, we often struggle with Japanese Knotweed, Reed Canary Grass, Tree of Heaven, Privet, Wild Rose, and many more. These species completely take over and outcompete other high value vegetation.  


Our Commitment to Restoration

The AWA and Allegheny County Conservation District have prioritized planting riparian buffers across Allegheny County to improve air and water quality, reduce the impacts of flooding and stormwater, increase habitat for fish and wildlife, and engage residents in a hands-on educational experience.



The Bright Side of Managing Invasive Species

To properly restore riparian areas, we have to incorporate invasives management into each site. Although this is a time consuming (and ongoing) piece of environmental restoration, it is also another opportunity to come together as volunteers and reap all the benefits of volunteerism. Invasives management includes getting outside, exercising, learning about the environment, and building relationships with others in the community.


October 2018: Riparian Buffer planting at the Forestbrooke Conservation Area in the Montour Run Watershed

October 2018: Riparian Buffer planting at the Forestbrooke Conservation Area in the Montour Run Watershed


We will be embarking on our second invasives management event on June 3rd in North Fayette at Hollow Oak Land Trust’s Forestbrooke Conservation Area. This past October, we planted over 400 native trees and shrubs at the Conservation Area and along the Montour Trail with many project partners and volunteers. We will revisit this site and cut down invasives until the buffer is established and able to shade out the competition.


Will you join in on the fun? Contact / 412-291-8006 with any questions.


Knotweed Therapy with Hollow Oak Land Trust and the Montour Run Watershed Association

Monday, June 3


Meet at the bottom of Oak Moss Drive in North Fayette (Off of Cliff Mine Road)

Closed- toe shoes are a must. Boots are even better.

We will have tools, but extra hedge clippers are appreciated.



AWA Calendar:



'Tis Winter: Critters Take Cover

As we start to feel the cold wind in our faces of old man winter’s breath, we get out the coats, turn on the furnace and inevitably complain about the cold, snow, ice, etc. We even think of our pets, putting them in a coat, bringing the inside, and getting an extra blanket. But what about creatures in the wild?  Specifically those that live in stream, lakes, ponds and rivers that have the potential to freeze? Aquatic organisms have come up with several adjustments to meet these challenges.

Deer Creek at Emmerling Park

Deer Creek at Emmerling Park

Fish and other cold-blooded animals adjust their body temperature and modify their behavior according to the season by adjusting their metabolism to the environment they live in. While agile and quick in warmer water, they slow down as their body temperatures drop. Some species of fish known as cold-water species, like trout, perch, and salmon prefer the colder temperatures, as colder water has more oxygen, but they will still move pretty slowly when water temperatures drop below 40oF. Other fish species, known as warm-water fish, such as bass, bluegill and catfish, must hibernate.  They retreat to the edges of streams and bury themselves in mud or leaves to wait out winter’s wrath.  Some species have been known to come back to life after being frozen!

Fish aren’t the only organisms in our streams though, macroinvertebrate or stream insects have some unique adaptations to survive the winter.  Like many of our warm-water fishes, aquatic macroinvertebrates will burrow into the mud, leaves or other stream substrate until spring.  Many insects can also secrete a fluid similar to antifreeze to survive the cold. 


Other organisms in water? Snails become very inactive in winter. Those present in water that freezes solid, burrow into mud and plant debris to hibernate. Mussels become dormant, too. This is evident from the darker rest rings on their shells, sometimes called “growth rings.” Most frogs hibernate in the mud below the ice, though some survive the winter in their tadpole stage. Many turtles also burrow into the mud and become inactive during the colder months. Snapping turtles, on the other hand, settle beneath plant debris and logs or even stay in muskrat or beaver burrows. Both snapping and painted turtles become active sometimes and can be seen crawling around under the ice. Cold-blooded toads, water snakes and garter snakes head under decaying logs, in stone piles, burrows or other holes and hibernate.