Fall is a magical time of transformation as mornings turn crisp and the brilliant leaves flutter down to find their way to the…street? In natural landscapes, leaves blanket the forest floor and eventually become rich soil. But as we have interrupted the natural cycle with our homes and other “people spaces,” much of the land is covered by impervious surfaces like streets, parking lots and roofs. And instead of water and nutrients making their way in to the soil, storm drains provide an expedient and direct route for pollutants—in this case leaves—on streets to flow into our waters.
Although cities sweep the streets, cities can’t possibly time it perfectly to capture all of the leaves. The help of local residents is important. Some citizens have started “Community Clean Up” events, days where residents get together to rake and bag leaves off the street. There are free toolkits available for hosting such events through the Freshwater Society. Visit http://freshwater.org/community-clean-ups-for-wate... to get started with a small chore that can make a big impact.
This fall, residents are encouraged to do their parts and rake up and compost leaves. Jumping in them beforehand is encouraged—followed by a nice cup of cider. Since most land in Minnesota (about 78%) is privately owned, how individuals manage their own resources makes all the difference on our collective public resources.
Written by Dawn Pape on behalf of the Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission (BCWMC), a local unit of government comprised of the nine cities that drain to Bassett Creek, focused on protecting water.