|Total Area: 6,785 acres
Average Imperviousness: 20%
Population Density: 3,481/mi2
Wetlands: 177 acres
Forest Cover: 31.5%
|Local Watershed Group: N/A|
Little Paint Branch is a free-flowing tributary of the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River; the stream joins the much larger Paint Branch in College Park, Maryland. The subwatershed is generally bound by Spencerville/Sandy Spring and Old Gunpowder Roads to the north and east, Cherry Hill Road to the south, and Old Columbia Pike to the west. The subwatershed is located within both Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and is near equally divided between the two. Major Little Paint Branch tributaries include: Silverwood tributary, McKnew Park tributary, Greencastle tributary, Tanglewood tributary, Galway tributary, Sleepy Hollow tributary and Spray Irrigation tributary.
Dominant Land Uses: Residential land use and forest cover comprise a majority of the Little Paint Branch subwatershed, at 37% and 31% by area, respectively; an additional 11% of the subwatershed is agricultural (primarily the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) property).
Physical Characteristics:The Little Paint Branch subwatershed is 6,785 acres (10.6 mi2) in size and approximately 20% impervious. Elevations range from 320 feet at the subwatershed divide to 80 feet at the confluence with Paint Branch. The headwaters of Little Paint Branch are in the Piedmont physiographic province. The stream, which flows into the Coastal Plain before joining Paint Branch, has an average gradient of 0.66% over 6.9 miles of mainstem.
Biological Characteristics: Little Paint Branch is designated a Use I stream (i.e., suitable for water recreation and support of aquatic life) by MDE. Three (38 percent) out of the eight Little Paint Branch Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) main stem sampling stations were rated as having either non-supporting or partially supporting physical aquatic habitat conditions present. With the exception of the upper main stem and Silverwood and Spray Irrigation tributaries where conditions are generally rated as being good, the condition of macroinvertebrate populations in both the middle and lower main stem and tributary network is generally poor/fair. As previously noted, macroinvertebrate community conditions in the Silverwood and Spray Irrigation tributaries are generally considered to be the least impaired; whereas, those in the Galway tributary are the most impacted. Main stem fish populations were similarly rated as being fair to good. The Little Paint Branch headwaters support a relatively healthy fish community, including sensitive species such as the Least Brook lamprey. The main stem is open to both resident and migratory fishes up to I-95. Tributary fish community-related sampling data indicates that the BARC Spray Irrigation tributary supports the highest number of species (i.e., 16); whereas, the Galway tributary supports only two.
Several physical barriers to both resident and anadromous fish movement and migration are present within the Little Paint Branch tributary system (e.g., concrete channelized stream sections, perched road culverts, piped stream sections, etc). These, as well as other barriers have been identified and remain as a restoration challenge for this subwatershed. It should be noted that efforts on the part of Montgomery County, Prince George's County, BARC and others to remove fish blockages, control stormwater runoff, restore both tributary and main stem instream habitat, create wetlands, reforest riparian corridors, and reintroduce migratory fish to the subwatershed remain on-going.
Condition Summary: Little Paint Branch is a heavily developed subwatershed within the Maryland portion of the Anacostia watershed. With the exception of the late 1950's vintage, Calverton single family residential development (located within the Galway tributary subwatershed), much of the newer Montgomery County portion of the Little Paint Branch (approximately 44.8 percent) was developed with stormwater management controls. These controls are largely represented by wet pond-type facilities. The older Prince George's County portion of the subwatershed has, with the exception of the Cross Creek golf course development, far fewer stormwater management controls. Approximately 45 percent of the total subwatershed area is woods and fields, and roughly 48 percent of the stream miles have an adequate riparian forest buffer (i.e., 300-foot total width). Initial indications are that far more tributary-specific stormwater retrofitting and middle and lower main stem stream restoration efforts are needed to restore the aquatic ecosystem of the Little Paint Branch subwatershed. Planned future projects include, but are not limited to: stormwater management focusing on the employment of low impact development (LID) and environmentally sensitive design (ESD) techniques, aquatic and terrestrial habitat restoration, fish barrier modification/removal, wetland creation, riparian reforestation, invasive plant management, and potentially additional fish reintroductions.