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WSU/Pend Oreille Extension introduced the Sense of Place series in 1999, with a focus on place-based stewardship education. Since 2001, a partnership with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department (KNRD) has supported this newsletter and allowed us to expand class offerings through EPA funding. Further staff support comes through Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA). Our newest partner, sponsor of the Rain Garden Challenge, is the Pend Oreille Conservation District. Many thanks to our partners and to you, our readers, for your continued enthusiasm for "digging" into the natural history and culture ofthis part of the world.

Harvesting Rain

by Carol Mack

Each year we can expect somewhere between 20 and 30 inches of precipitation in Pend Oreille County. What if you could triple that amount without tapping into your regular water supply—and direct it to a luxuriant green garden mirroring those exquisite spots where water naturally collects and seeps into the ground?

Welcome to the world of rain gardens. Rain gardens are shallow depressions in yards that collect rainwater from downspouts, driveways or sidewalks. The shrubs and flowers that flourish with this extra water help attract birds, butterflies, and other pollinators to our properties. And, they provide a beautiful solution to the growing problem of stormwater.

As we build more homes and roads, our new rooftops and driveways add to the amount of impenetrable surface in the landscape. With each additional hard surface, there is less area remaining where snowmelt and rain can soak through the soil. In fact, dense developments may have over 50 percent of their area converted to impervious surfaces. The resulting increase in storm runoff leads to more severe floods and less infiltration to replenish groundwater. Deprived of the earth’s filtering system, the water carries much more pollution. In fact, this dispersed “non-point” pollution has become the number one water quality problem in our country today.

Our individual dwellings and driveways directly contribute to the stormwater problem. But, happily, we each can contribute to the solution as well. Our individual rain gardens can truly add up to cleaner water and better wildlife habitat. All that...and an attractive, natural garden outside our window. How can we lose?

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