By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) —A local elementary school gets down and dirty with native plants in an effort to build a healthier habitat for wildlife and reduce stormwater runoff.

It’s all about the environment and the connection to a healthy harbor. Five new trees and some native perennial flowers are being planted on the sidewalk in front of William Paca Elementary School on North Lakewood Avenue.

“They learn a lot about the life cycle of plants and animals,” said teacher, Adreon Hubbard. “And some of the students have raised monarch butterflies with me in the classroom from milkweed we grew in the schoolyard.”

The Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore is behind the project designed to reduce stormwater runoff into the harbor.

“We’re really trying to drive home the point that what we do upstream from the harbor has a direct impact downstream,” said Leanna Wetmore of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore. “So if we’re working in the neighborhood on cleaning and greening issues, everything we do up here can impact the harbor eventually.”

The Baltimore Tree Trust is part of the Healthy Harbor Initiative which will also beautify the neighborhood.

“So this area gets a ton of runoff because of all of the concrete,” said Mark Conway, executive director of the Baltimore Tree Trust. “So these tree pits will help to capture some of that water and help make this community look a little better.”

The Waterfront Partnership’s goal is to improve the social and environmental fabric of the neighborhood while reducing stormwater runoff and beautifying the block.

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