This past Saturday my son and I volunteered to help the folks from the Elizabeth River Project (ERP) at the new Paradise Creek Nature Park in Portsmouth, Virginia. Paradise Creek is small tributary of the Elizabeth River, and is one of the most polluted and abused creeks flowing into one of the most polluted and abused rivers in the country. But through the efforts of ERP, and others, things have slowly been getting better for the Elizabeth and it is a healthier river than it once was, but with a long way to go to ERP's goal of a fishable, swimmable river by 2020.
Paradise Creek lies just south of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the oldest and largest industrial facility belonging to the U. S. Navy. The area has a long history of being the dumping place for what was not needed and eventually became a significant EPA Superfund site. The land that is becoming Paradise Creek Nature Park was once a vibrant tidal marsh, but over the years became a home for various unwanted materials, including the dredge spoils created by keeping the Elizabeth deep enough for large ships to navigate. By the time the dumping ceased, the site ended up with an unusually high elevation offering a nice view of the creek, and a forest of opportunistic species, natives and invasive exotics both, began to grow.
As part of a larger effort to restore Paradise Creek and the surrounding land, the park is being created and should open to the public by the end of the year. We were there to plant trees, or more specifically to dig holes for other people to come in behind us and plant trees, all of them native species. After we did our digging, we took a stroll around the park before we had to go. I think what struck me the most about the park is its juxtaposition to its industrial neighbors, many of whom have cleaned up their own properties and changed the way they conduct business next to the river. If everyone is brought on board and works together, making changes is an easier proposition.
I think this species of Ligustrum is L. lucidum. It is not as invasive as L. sinense, but close. The park has
impressive tree-like stands of it dripping with fruit.
The two most noxious ivies were also present, the invasive Hedera helix (English Ivy) and our own native Toxicodendron radicans (Poison Ivy), an itchy surprise awaiting anyone wanting a closer look at its beautiful fall colors.
The pink flagging tape and string were strung over the top of a recreated wetland in order to keep Canada geese from eating what is likely newly planted Spartina alterniflora. This area was part of an agreement that allowed a company to partially atone for previous environmental sins by reverting ten acres of accumulated spoil back to marsh, the site's original environmental niche.