Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reflections on the Chumstick Riparian Restoration Project

IRMS 8th Graders: In their own words
This October, Cascadia and Icicle River Middle School (IRMS) teamed up to do a riparian clean-up and restoration project near Leavenworth, WA.  For all the details of this project, see our October post "Getting Youth Involved."
Everything appeared to go well and the kids seemed to have a good time, but I have been eager to know what bits of knowledge the students retained or how they truly felt about the project.  This week, I was able to swing by the school and pick up the envelope containing a stack of student reflections.  The variety of responses- thoughtful, insightful, entertaining- were wonderful to read, and I thought they should be shared. So, without further ado: 

On riparian areas and their function:
"I learned that Riparian was a habitat near water."

"By growing trees the creek will have more shade.  When the water is colder there is more oxygen for the fish.  I learned that what I just said is called a riparian habitat."
"I learned that if there is more roots in the soil there would be less of a chance of erosion.  So that’s why we took out the blackberries and put in more plants...  Also I learned if the water is colder it produces more oxygen for the fish to breathe."
"I learned that having the right habitat is very important because if you don’t many things can go wrong.  For example, it there aren’t the right plants there that are tall with deep roots, the river won’t get shaded and the roots won’t hold the dirt down."

"I also learned that there’s a lot of value to a riparian environment, fishes enjoy it, you can have fun, and [it’s] a good way to relieve stress."
"Helping the ecosystem was fun because it was “hands on” science."

"I also learned that teamwork, friendship, and care and respect for nature will help not only the environment (as in the creek and such), but give wild animals a home, whether they are 600 lbs. elk, or 16 oz. fish, they need us, and we need them."

On pollution and cleaning up:
"I really loved the restoration project because it felt good to help clean up the environment.  Also it felt good when [we] crossed the creek, got really dirty, and pulled out two tires."
"We had to go in the stream and take rocks out to help the stream flow better.  And that was hard work.  I was the muscle man so I had to take out all of the big rocks."
"I also learned that there is a lot of pollution in the most unexpected places..."
"I learned that grass is heavy.  And we needed to get all the garbage out of the water so the fish will come back."
"One memory from there that I’ll keep forever would have to be when… I found a huge piece of machinery in the ground.  It took like twenty minutes just to get it out of the ground, even with six other people helping me."
"…I learned that even though we can’t always see it, and we don’t really realize it, there was pollution there, and how to quickly remove it."

On Himalayan blackberry:
"I learned that blackberry bushes have one big root but not many small ones.  Blackberry bushes don’t prevent erosion so we had to take the bushes out and plant different plants with smaller (but a numerous amount) roots."

"...I learned about just how overtaking they are.  The stuff was everywhere on the hillside and it was pokey and very stringy too." 

On planting and proper planting technique:
"I thought it was super fun cleaning up, but planting was more fun because we really helped the hill from eroding.  We also planted some trees and bushes that poked me, but it was all worth it." 
"I enjoyed planting the trees because when they grow and [I] see them I’ll be like I planted one of those trees!"
"…my group planted 7 trees and that made a big difference because we will have more wild life." 
"I learned that the hole you dig for a plant has to be twice as wide as the roots and just as deep as them.  I enjoyed planting plants because I can’t wait to see them in a year or so."
"If you put too much dirt or soil on top of the plant, the plant will die because its roots will grow to the surface and not into the ground."
"...I thought it was dig a hole and put [a plant] in it… With the little [plants] you have to protect them from other animals, like deer.  I learned now how to plant really well.  I can do this at home and plant a lot."
"I enjoyed planting the plants and found it interesting the materials used to keep them in the ground.  Everything was biodegradable."

And other thoughts and wisdom:
 "I like working in the wilderness helping make a change in the habitat.  I hope someday the salmon will be able to swim freely in the stream."
(It's happening! Check out the video of salmon in Chumstick Creek!)

"…I learned that that’s kind of what I want to be when I’m

"I learned to check where the bank ends before I got too close to the creek.  Once I fell in the creek, I learned not to go back."
"I personally really enjoy working outside as opposed to writing papers in class all day."

  "The ladies there were real nice and gave us hot cocoa..."

"In all, it was a great trip, a few unfortunate people fell in the creek, but a good time was had by all."

Thanks again to the IRMS 8th graders for all your great contributions! 
And thank you for reading!

Your Friend in conservation,

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