Collecting data on the impact of Storm Busters is essential for demonstrating results and partners are key to metrics collection. For example, a city’s waste management department can assist with picking up and weighing trash and debris from waterway clean-ups, and the city’s stormwater management department or similar agency can assist with measuring the mitigation of rainwater runoff.
The following outcome metrics must be collected:
- Number of trees planted*
- Number of trees adopted and cared for
- Percentage of trees that survive the first year
- Amount of rainwater runoff mitigated
Rain Garden Plantings:
- Number of rain gardens planted*
- Total feet/acreage of rain gardens planted*
- Amount of rainwater runoff mitigated
- Feet /mileage/acreage of waterways assessed*
- Feet/mileage/acreage of waterways cleaned*
- Square footage/ acres of river banks restored by tree plantings and invasive species removal
- Increase in percentage of weight or volume of debris removed (based on the amount and type of debris, either weight or volume may be appropriate measurement units)
*These metrics can be collected on the day of the volunteer activity.
Additional metrics can be calculated using on-line tools. For example, this on-line runoff tool can be used to tally the total amount of storm-water runoff mitigated.
Securing Resources For Storm Busters
You can secure most of the resources required for the volunteer projects via in-kind donations or at a discount. In exchange, you can provide visibility/sponsorship opportunities for local companies that provide materials. You can also request that volunteers bring tools with them to the volunteer site.
- Trees and rain gardens: Ask a local landscape company or nursery to provide these materials and deliver them to the site location(s). The public works department or similar agency can also help with tree and rain garden deliveries. A hardware store, gardening center, or the city’s parks department can provide tools and additional planting materials.
- Waterway clean-ups: Garbage bags and gloves can be provided in-kind by a city’s beautification or sanitation department or by the American River’s National River Clean Up Program, or by contacting Keep America Beautiful.
Additional funding will be needed to support the management and execution of the project(s). There are a variety of state and national environmental grants available for these purposes, and local foundations and businesses may be interested in supporting this work.
Recognizing and Thanking Volunteers
There are many ways to recognize volunteers who contribute to making Storm Busters a success. Be welcoming and energized during training and throughout the course of the volunteer project. Following the project(s), send thank you notes and share pictures from the event(s). Get permission to include volunteers in future newsletters and thank them on social media.
Continue sharing photos of the growing trees, flourishing rain gardens, completed green roofs, and healthy waterways. Once the metrics have been finalized, share the impact with the volunteers. Create and share quarterly or semi-annual progress reports to help volunteers understand how their efforts contributed to the initiative’s overall and longterm success on the environment and in the community.
Additional Steps That Support Implementation
There are several opportunities to further the impact of the projects in Storm Busters.
Organizations/city departments that can help with volunteer training include:
- The city’s parks department can help train volunteers on planting trees and rain gardens
- A landscaping company/landscape architectural design company/nursery can also help with tree and rain garden planting
- The city’s stormwater department or similar agency can train volunteers to help with waterway assessments and waterway clean-ups
- Local nonprofit organizations with missions focused on water may be able to provide guidance on waterway clean-ups, and potentially advise on tree plantings and rain garden plantings
- Local nonprofit organizations with missions focused on trees may be able to provide guidance on tree plantings and rain garden plantings
Schools are great sites for rain garden plantings as they can provide educational opportunities for students as well as improve the landscape of school campuses.
Working within neighborhoods is valuable because neighborhood residents who volunteer for Storm Busters are more likely to take ownership of long-term, ongoing maintenance of the trees, rain gardens, and/or streams. This is particularly true in neighborhoods that are more prone to flooding or that back-up to debris-ridden streams. (For more information on involving citizen volunteers in neighborhood revitalization efforts, please see the Cities of Service Love Your Block blueprint at http://www.citiesofservice.org/resources.)
Partner with a local university professor whose field of study is restoration of rivers and watersheds, to lead the waterway assessments. In addition to sharing knowledge and advice, he or she may bring along a team of enthusiastic college students to help with your efforts.