WMAN receives National Parks Service RTCA Grant!

June 6, 2023

WMAN and our partners are thrilled to share that we’ve received an assistance award from the National Park Service – Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program (RTCA). This grant of planning assistance will support the community-driven development of an Eco-Village Collaborative Project in West Mt. Airy near the Carpenter Lane train station.  Proposed onsite efforts include native plant propagation, tree nursery, rainwater collection, soil remediation, wetlands area, raised garden beds, micro-nursery to support greater biodiversity, pollinator patches, a gathering space for Mt Airy Tree Tenders, and more. We invite you to come to our future community sessions to contribute your ideas and help us co-create the vision, or to just stop by and check out the site!

The partners on the project who provided letters of support in the application include Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Sustainable Choices, LLC, Mt Airy Tree Tenders, Pleasant Advisory Council, Henry H. Houston Elementary, Glitter, East Mt. Airy Neighbors, ECHO Systems, and Mt. Airy Community Development Corporation. We are incredibly grateful for their continued partnership.

The area near the Carpenter Lane train station is owned by SEPTA, which has already completed the initial heavy landscaping of the area, including removal of dead and invasive trees. Their support letter came from Wendy Green-Harvey, Manager, Government Affairs, “With 150 regional rail stations in our system, we value and appreciate establishing relationships with community groups who volunteer service that not only beautifies our stations but provides a clean and green community space. It builds rapport and supports a collaborative synergy at a central neighborhood location – a train station.”

This area will provide a prime opportunity for community engagement. As described in our project application, “This hub is going to be a fun, engaging space to be in community with neighbors, working towards a common goal that betters the natural environment we all share. We anticipate on-site, educational opportunities for children and adults.”

Located at the back of the Carpenter Lane train station, the plot is approximately 200 feet long by 100 feet wide, and sits past the edge of the parking lot. It was previously neglected, with the railway on one length and a failing fence on the opposing side. Neighbors often reported dumping in this area, but since this project has started, dumping has stopped. We’ve already begun re-treeing, purchasing 25 new trees for the edible hedgerow, including apples, pears, figs, serviceberries, mulberries, and chokeberries. We’ve also received complementary grants from the Society of Women Environmental Professionals to build six large raised beds filled with fresh soil to support our on-site intergenerational gardening program, and from Feet First Philly and the Clean Air Council to create a Jr Tree Tenders program for youth in our community to learn how to properly plant and care for young trees.

The NPS-RTCA grant will begin immediately by helping to arrange community listening sessions, and identifying additional partners and funding sources. They will support WMAN in collecting community input and creation of both a master plan for the site and a maintenance schedule. Additionally, RTCA will examine and identify with project partners other spaces in the broader community that could become future greening sites, gardens, or eco-hubs.

Right now, we have huge piles of wood chips that need to be spread to level the terrain, feed the soil, and limit weed growth. If you’d like to get in on the chipping fun, or become involved in any capacity, please contact WMAN Executive Director, Jo Winter– josephine.g.winter@gmail.com.