A free flowing tributary of the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River, Sligo Creek is an ecological gem, a lush crown jewel tucked into an otherwise urban setting. Stretching nine miles from point to point, thanks to the dedicated support and advocacy of a plethora of community leaders and non-profits, the banks of this special waterway provide public parkland and green space for all to enjoy.
Simply put, Sligo Creek is one of the many reasons why the Sligo Park Hills neighborhood, where my family lives, rocks.
To that point, indulge me in a personal story. Our home doesn’t boast much in the way of a front or backyard, but when we bought it in 2016 we didn’t care because just down the street from our house is the amazing shared community resource that is Sligo Creek. This greenway is, for all intents and purposes, our backyard. Our family enjoys biking and scootering along the parkway and we frequently walk our dog on the trail. My kids dig in the sand on the creek banks, practice their balance by crossing fallen logs over the creek, and throw stones into the water. My son Preston always asks, “Mom, did you bring your trash bag?” when we see litter in the creek.
As a Sligo Creek neighbor, a user of this natural resource, and an eco-conscious person, I feel protective over maintaining its ecological health and beauty. That’s why I support organizations like Friends of Sligo Creek (FOSC). For twenty years, FOSC has offered indoor programs for learning and organized guided outdoor explorations, litter clean-up events and invasive plant removal clear-out events in the park. Sadly, due to high levels of bacteria (mostly from pet waste and other pollutants in stormwater runoff) the water is not safe for swimming. (ProTip: scoop your dog’s poop! Really. It will make a difference.) Volunteers with FOSC test the creek and related waterways regularly to provide data to the County and environmental groups and support neighborhood projects to reduce stormwater runoff and the environmental damage it can cause. In turn, these non-profits monitor civic developments and advocate for policies and initiatives that will support a healthier Sligo Creek.
Curious to see the most updated water quality results? You can find them on the Friends of Sligo Creek website.
To protect the area from harmful air pollution and enhance access for park goers, parts of the Sligo Creek Parkway are closed off from cars. For any outdoor enthusiast enjoying a walk, hike, bike ride or time at one of the numerous playgrounds, you might forget that you’re mere miles from the nation’s capital. With the charming footbridges that crisscross back and forth over the creek, ample picnic areas, and parks, no doubt the Sligo Creek and connected trail system enhance our region and bring our community together.Managing invasive plant species is also an ongoing—and critically important—effort. Ridding natural areas of invasive species and replacing those plants with native species helps erosion control, attracts pollinators, and contributes to a healthier ecosystem, something all of us neighbors of the creek want in spades. The volunteers managing invasives in the creek are required to obtain their Weed Warrior certificate before helping in the field. If you’re interested in learning more, you can find details of FOSC’s work and certification process here.
Sligo Creek is the ultimate community group project—and there is something for everyone to do to ensure its protection and preservation. If you’re interested in contributing to the upkeep of this local environmental asset, join like-minded friends and neighbors.
And stay connected to Sligo Creek enthusiasts and advocates!
Follow the iNaturalist.org project: Fauna and Flora of the Sligo Creek Watershed