By Jaclyn Rhoad
Friends Group Seeks Input from Residents and Others
Friends of Heinz Refuge has launched the “Leave It To Nature” campaign to urge the City of Philadelphia to use the 124.5-acre plot of land connected to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum Marsh for ameliorating flooding in the Eastwick community and improve natural habitat.
The undeveloped land, adjacent to the northern boundary of Heinz Refuge, has been the subject of recent studies to determine its future development potential. Included in the study is modeling that demonstrated the potential to re-establish the land as a constructed wetland to reduce flooding in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia.
For decades residents of the Eastwick neighborhood in Philadelphia have been subjected to severe and nuisance flooding resulting from storm events that cause Cobbs and Darby creeks to flood into the Eastwick neighborhood. This is common where flood plains are developed or drained and has been problematic in Eastwick for many years. Potential for flooding is only expected to worsen with rising sea levels and tidal flooding from Schuylkill and Delaware rivers.
“Most of the land adjacent to the refuge is in a FEMA flood zone. There’s no reason to explore any MAJOR development of the land if it can be put to use as a wetland to absorb flooding stormwater and help Eastwick residents,” said Jaclyn Rhoads, vice-president of Friends of Heinz Refuge.
The 2021 Eastwick Hydraulic and Hydrologic Study prepared by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency modeled multiple storm and sea level rise scenarios and their impact on the 124.5-acre parcel and other vacant city-owned property in the Eastwick section. Only one model showed a plan that could potentially reduce flooding in the surrounding community, and that model included restoring most of the 124.5-acre parcel as a wetland. Residents can find more information and complete a survey about this option at the Leave It To Nature campaign website – www.LeaveItToNature.org.