Fall News from Friends of West Mill Creek Park

Happy 10th Birthday Friends of WMC Park!

Goldenrod in bloom in new parking lot gardens

The Friends of West Mill Creek Park was founded in October 2013 with the twin mission of safeguarding and improving West Mill Creek’s use as a dog park, and working to improve the park as habitat for the wildlife that shares the park with us.  Over the past ten years we have worked to enhance the beauty and biodiversity of the park by planting many hundreds of trees, shrubs, and perennials, and worked to combat invasive plants.  We have also acted as liaison with the Township for problems identified by our members, and have researched and posted dog-related educational materials on our website with the goal of promoting a safe, happy experience for park users.  We thank all our members for their encouragement, support, constructive criticism and great suggestions over the years. We also extend heartfelt thanks to Lower Merion Township – especially Donna Heller, Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, and Dave DeAngelis, Supervisor of the Parks division.  For many years, they supported us with unfailing responsiveness, help, a can-do attitude, and good cheer.  They and the Parks crew members have always been a delight to work with. 

Shout-Out to the Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Program

Many of you have noted the progress of the beautiful garden beds that were planted this year as part of our newly redesigned parking lot.  The design for these beds, plus many hours of maintenance work, were provided to our Park gratis as part of Pennsylvania’s successful Master Naturalist program.  This program provides advanced ecological training to Pennsylvania residents with the requirement that those trained will provide 20 hours of pro bono ecological services to not-for-profit entities like us.  We are lucky to have Michelle Detwiler, a locally well-known native plant expert and landscape designer, as our Master Naturalist.  She has worked with us for the past several years to continue our mission to improve our Park’s beauty and ecological effectiveness.  We are so grateful.  Thank you, Michelle!

Fall Planting Day–2023

We held our annual Fall planting day on Wednesday, October 25.  This year our focus was additional planting for the new garden beds around the recently reconfigured parking lot. 

New Parking Lot Garden in October 2023

With the help of the hardworking Lower Merion Parks Department crew (which did all the heavy planting work), we added 123 native perennials and shrubs to those beds this Fall.  These included the beautiful yellow-flowered shrub St. John’s Wort, asters, grasses, and golden groundsel. The crew also dug out a large stand of invasive mugwort in the main park area, and mulched with wood chips to help slow up any regrowth.  In addition, they planted four trees (two black gum and two river birch) in the main park area. 

While the Township crew worked, Friends of West Mill Creek Park volunteers Michelle Detwiler, Karen O’Neil, Ellen Reese, and Ellen Briggs weeded the parking lot beds that were planted last Spring. 

Thanks to all those members who have made financial donations – your dollars paid for all these plants!  Special kudos to our members who made contributions in 2022 and 2023, years in which we omitted our usual annual appeal for donations: James & Jen Sperry, Nora Engel & Gustavo Klurfan, David Mark, Heather Farrel & Daniel DiCriscio, Harriet Ruffin, Elizabeth Keech, and Peter & Ellen Briggs.

Engineering and Planting Work to Be Done at the Park

In our last newsletter (Spring of 2023) we alerted you to upcoming work regrading and replanting the stream bank at the Park to comply with Pennsylvania environmental regulations intended to reduce water pollution from stormwater runoff.  The work, originally scheduled for this Fall, has been rescheduled to take place sometime this Winter.   Sections of the park will be blocked off as the work progresses, but the Park will remain open.

Off-Leash Permits for 2024

As the year’s end approaches, don’t forget to obtain an off-leash permit for 2024.  It’s easy to apply on the Lower Merion Township website.  Getting the permit contributes to park safety and also is a great way to show our Township Commissioners your support for the off-leash program.  The permit will give you off-leash privileges at both Rolling Hill and West Mill Creek parks.