by Craig Lauridsen
Connecting students to nature is a wonderful thing! Last week Terra Linda High School kicked off our 2009-10 watershed field trip program with a total of 68 juniors and seniors joining MMWD staff for a field trip on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. For most of the students it was their first time on the watershed lands, but I’ll bet it won’t be their last.
We met near Phoenix Lake dam where we talked to the group about water conservation, water supply and distribution, and our dependence on local rainfall. Following the talk, half of the group used specialized weed wrenches to pull highly invasive French broom, which has infested over 1,000 acres of watershed lands. This noxious weed crowds out native plants, changes soil chemistry so that native plants adapted to California soils are unable to compete, and can change the natural fire regime of an ecosystem, increasing fire intensity.
The other half of the group performed an ecology lab in which they collected valuable data that will be used to track changes over time in broom spread, Douglas-fir distribution, sudden oak death, and general plant community structure. Midway through the field trip the groups switched, allowing all the students to gain hands-on experience in both projects.
Over the next eight months approximately 1,000 students from at least 15 different schools are scheduled to participate in our field trip program. To learn more about this and other free programs that MMWD offers schools in our service area, please click here.