Plant a Tree, Save a Salamander

Rainy Day Impacts to Georgia’s Environment 

While ‘April showers bring May flowers,’ extended rainy weather brings a host of potentially problematic issues. One of these being insufficient soil absorption. The soil composition throughout Georgia directly impacts how water volumes affect the surrounding environment and ecosystems. Planting trees and low-lying shrubs is one preventive measure to help mitigate the effects of soil erosion and run-off. Take advantage of cooler temperatures and their effect on these plants. By planting in October and November, these plants build their root systems without wasting precious energy on creating and maintaining leaves, as they must in the spring. 

What is the Connection?

Georgia’s soil content is composed of different materials based on location or region. Elachee Nature Science Center, for instance, is in the Piedmont Region. Here in Hall County, the soil composition is primarily clay and granite, full of copper and iron oxide. This area’s soil has a diminished ability to absorb rain compared with Georgia’s more southern locales, such as the limestone regions famous for their underground aquifers. Therefore, having established root systems throughout the soil allow for in-depth soil saturation, helping to prevent run-off and extensive erosion.

Soil becomes saturated when the ground is too full of water. High saturation rates lead to water run-off. The concept of run-off is a natural part of the water cycle: as precipitation contacts land, the water flows “over and off,” leading into creeks, streams, rivers and oceans. 

Run-off has a natural environmental impact because it takes with it whatever is in its path. High volumes of fast-moving water flows can cause a myriad of challenges ranging from flash floods to waterways receiving sedimentation deposits. Whatever gets swept into this run-off has the potential to detrimentally impact the quality of the water source into which it flows.  

As a casual observer, you may notice the water receiving run-off is not visually pleasing due to excessive mud or trash. That observation is merely a red flag. In fact, below the water’s surface, run-off effects are wreaking havoc on established ecosystems.

Take for example indicator species of macroinvertebrates that are unable to quickly relocate habitats, such as stoneflies or the Hellbender Salamander. These species are very sensitive to pollution levels in their aquatic homes. A stream with intense run-off and high sedimentation content cannot sustain the ecosystem these important species need.  

An easy fix? Plant a tree or low-lying shrub this fall. Your efforts will help establish a robust root system that will improve the soil conditions that will also help prevent excessive erosion during rainy times.  Check out this how-to guide on tree planting, courtesy of Keep in mind, by planting a single tree, you are providing an environmental benefit for your local community for many generations to come.

Happy planting!