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STUDENTS UNDERTAKE TRAIL CREEK RESTORATION PROJECT Community School seeks to improve creek ecosystem and habitat BY MARIA PREKAGES


eventeen Community School students have embarked on a longterm project to restore the health of the Trail Creek ecosystem and habitat that borders the school campus in Sun Valley. The project goal, undertaken by the Upper School Environmental Science Class, is to restore the creek’s riparian zone to a more natural state and create a plan that will lead to lasting improvements. “We have a truly wonderful resource in Trail Creek that is of great value to our community,” said Community School science teacher Scott Runkel, who oversees the project. “From the great horned owl’s nest on campus to the trout that feed in the pools outside our classroom, they rely on our stewardship to exist. “Reclaiming and restoring the riparian habitat along the school’s banks had become a priority as new construction, parking lot expansion and just general foot traffic and landscaping choices had reduced its amount and degraded its quality,” Runkel said. “The school has

an environmental vision statement; this project was in line with it.” The project was started in September at the request of Head of School Ben Pettit. After conducting research and community outreach to gain support for the project, the students have tested the water quality of Trail Creek, taken measurements and photographs to establish baseline data on the creek’s current conditions and planted plugs of Baltic rush to control weeds. “One of my goals is to get them out doing something that has a positive impact on the environment,” Runkel said. “When Ben Pettit proposed to them the idea to investigate our riparian habitat, make recommendations on how to improve it and start the process of restoration, they decided to jump on it. “It has been inspiring to see students recognize the value of this treasure, and then take the initiative and responsibility to improve and protect it for future generations,” Runkel said. Seniors Ella Pepin and Kristian DeWolfe said the project has also been beneficial to the students. “The riparian restoration drew me to

an overarching desire to be an environmental steward in all life’s aspects,” Pepin said. “We as a class, along with some visitors and supporters, discussed how this project made us feel. I think that no matter where life takes me or what path I may choose, this restoration project highlighted a perpetual awareness and appreciation for environmental restoration.” “Being very interested in science, I did not know what to expect going into this project,” said DeWolfe. “The one thing I did know is that it would be a great impact on school and a very interesting learning opportunity. Learning about restoration projects like this got me very intrigued about the project as a whole, and it has also kept me driven to try to make an impact on the school and in the community.” Assisting the students with their work have been Wood River Land Trust, the U.S. Forest Service and Trent Stumph, an environmental consultant with SawCourtesy photo. tooth Environmental Consulting. Additional information on the project Community School students, from left, Pierson is available at www.cutthroatstotheres- Carlsen, Henry Everitt and Dehner Figge, collect samples for a Trail Creek restoration project. cue.blogspot.com. tws

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november 18, 2015


Profile for The Weekly Sun

18 November 2015  

18 November 2015