Algae Bloom……sounds beautiful doesn’t it? Well it is not exactly the type of bloom that we can all enjoy – especially our wildlife. There has been a lot of comment and press about the deceased fish found on our National Mall….and unfortunately mumbling’s of blame directed towards The National Park Service. Not quite fair folks!!! Algae bloom is the end product of our community not paying attention to how our behaviors affect the waterways. I first heard about algae bloom as a Central Rappahannock Master Gardener and clean up efforts on the banks of the Rappahannock River. Seeing this amazing green slime up close and personal was quite an experience for this city girl. If you can imagine a very thick green smoothie covering the surface of the water – you will know what algae bloom looks like. Now imagine being a fish under that kind of surface and surviving. Kind of makes you gasp for air, right???
How does algae bloom occur? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, algae bloom occurs when algae that naturally lives in the sea and fresh waterways grows out of control. Heat is also a contributing factor in the growth of algae bloom. July was one of the hottest months on record for quite some time. When the algae is out of control it can directly affect not just wildlife, but humans as well.
Are all algae blooms toxic? Not all are toxic but if they block oxygen and light – guess what……survival of underwater species can be challenging at best.
What are we doing to contribute to increased algae bloom? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, we seriously need to rethink the need for fertilizer use. How much we use, where we use it as well as when the right time to apply can affect the environmental reaction to fertilizer use. Overwatering can also negatively affect our environment simply because when the water run’s off….it goes directly into the waterways that we depend on. If you check their website , there is a list of measure we can take to help our environment and not just look for someone to blame. Each of us are to accept responsibility as Stewards of this land to make positive changes in the treatment of our environment.
How can we help? Let’s consider rethinking the perfect lawn and garden and consider instead sustainable landscapes, xeriscaping and rain gardens. Each of these practices would benefit our environment in such positive ways. From the types of detergents we use, how we wash our cars to monitoring our waterways and reporting siting’s to the proper authorities.
I am passionate about the environment and I take seriously my personal actions, as I curate my little green space on this earth. I am also passionate about Constitution Gardens, a project of The Trust for The National Mall. I took this photo at the site of the proposed Constitution Gardens on Our National Mall. If we do not take seriously our responsibility to our environment – who will?? As a member of the gardening community I challenge other gardeners, garden writers and communicators to see how we can help – not just our National Park Service – educate the public on better environmental practices, so we will know that we have done our part for future generations.
Have you picked your park today??? My choice is still Constitution Gardens…….
Click here to find out more about the Environmental Protection Agency
Click here to find out more about National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Click here to find out more about the National Park Service
To read more about Constitution Gardens, check out the following: