Working On The Brightside

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Published on: Aug. 15, 2012

the system, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Region 7 of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided the project with a Clean Water Act Section 319-grant to fund the installation of these aspects of the design.

Another important demonstration included in the Brightside garden is how to make use of small areas to successfully grow trees. In many communities, trees are planted in “boxes” that may measure smaller than 3 feet by 3 feet within sidewalks and parking lots. Foresters call these coffins due to the short (less than 10 years) life span of the trees subjected to these harsh conditions. Tree roots need large areas to expand in order to absorb adequate water and nutrients as well as provide support for their large canopies. Because the pavement limits their root space, the trees are often short-lived. Tree roots also damage sidewalks in their attempt to grow. Good engineering and sound forestry practices offer an alternative to improve tree health, eliminate pavement damage and allow us to enjoy the aesthetic and functional benefits of large shade trees, which includes intercepting storm water, reducing pollutants and reducing energy consumption. To find out how much benefit your shade trees provide, visit this tree benefits calculator website at

During the second phase of the project, the Silva Cell suspended pavement system will be used to provide rooting space beneath a large expanse of sidewalk (see graphic left). Additional 319 grant funding through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will help make this first-of-its-kind installation in Missouri possible.

Our Shared Vision

Building this garden was an example of partnership at its best. From the nurseries that donated native plants to the businesses, foundations and governmental entities that supported this undertaking, more than $500,000 was invested in this endeavor. Today, neighbors have a beautiful green space that provides respite from the built environment and provides the opportunity to connect with nature. In St. Louis, the Conservation Department is supporting such initiatives that encourage urban residents to experience first-hand the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

“Many partners contributed, yet the staff of the Conservation Department embraced this idea and, through their vision and expertise, made this project a reality,” praised Green, Brightside’s executive director. “We invite everyone to stop by, enjoy the beautiful garden and learn a little bit about how the Conservation Department is making a difference in the St. Louis community.”

A Community Effort

Brightside St. Louis (formerly known as Operation Brightside) was founded in 1982 and initially began as a public-private partnership teaming community residents with city government to clean up neighborhoods. Brightside has cleaned up millions of pounds of trash and debris and planted millions of flowers to beautify public spaces in St. Louis. In honor of its 30th anniversary, Brightside mobilized hundreds of volunteers to plant 500,000 daffodils this year.

Brightside staff and volunteers organize cleanup events and community plantings. Through their efforts, they have succeeded in bringing a variety of community stakeholders together including volunteers, businesses, neighborhood associations and local governments to enhance the livability of St. Louis. Brightside works with all of the 79 neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis on a variety of cleaning and beautification projects.

Managing Nonpoint Source Pollution

The Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program was established under the 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act. Point source pollution refers to contaminants that come from a specific source, such as pipes from sewage treatment plants and industrial facilities, which often directly discharge to waterways. Conversely, nonpoint source pollution (NPS) comes from indirect sources and includes sediment, motor oil, animal waste, fertilizers and pesticides. Rain then washes these pollutants from hard surfaces such as parking lots and roads into local waterways via storm drains. These pollutants have harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation and aquatic life. According to the EPA, NPS is the leading cause of water quality problems in the US. Grant funding enables states, territories and tribes to monitor, assess and educate their constituencies about NPS and protecting water quality.

The following partners contributed cash or in-kind support to the project

  • Environmental Protection Agency Region 7
  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources
  • Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Cornelsen Charitable Foundation
  • William A. Kerr Foundation
  • Edward K. Love Conservation Foundation
  • Employees Community Fund of Boeing St. Louis
  • Alberici Constructors, Inc.
  • City of St. Louis
  • Dana Brown Charitable Trust
  • Philpott Family Foundation
  • Crawford Taylor Foundation
  • Ameren
  • Korte Company
  • Peabody Investments
  • St. Louis Composting
  • Forest ReLeaf of Missouri
  • Bohn’s Farm
  • Forrest Keeling Nursery
  • Prairie Hill Farms
  • Home Nursery
  • Jost Greenhouses
  • Missouri Wildflowers Nursery
  • Schroeder Sod Farm
  • The Home Depot
  • Fred Weber, Inc.

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