Programs Community Outreach Educational Events Elma Middle School Student Workshop February 24, 2009
Sponsor: Kathy Jacobson, Chehalis Basin Education Consortium Coordinator Participants: Eleven 7th-grade students from Elma High School accompanied by teacher Scott Rockey, Kathy Jacobson and one parent.
Project Description from the Community Salmon Fund Grant
Garrard Creek, a tributary of the Chehalis River, is a salmon bearing creek (Coho and limited Steelhead) which winds through the bottomlands of Wild Thyme Farm. Reforesting riparian buffer zones and creating ponds and wetlands are on-going projects to enhance the aquatic community.
According to Smith and Wenger, 2001, The riparian cover along Garrard Creek is poor and 25% has been converted to non-forest use. In addition, water quality is poor for salmon, which is likely caused by vegetation conversion that influence peak flow event. According to Chehalis Basin Partnerships 2007 Garrard Creek Watershed Management Plan, Garrard Creek is considered medium level priority habitat, and restoration activities which restore the native riparian corridor are recommended. (Chehalis Basin Salmon Habitat Restoration Work Plan, 2005).
Since 2001, the landowner has planted 3,000 trees and shrubs along the creek.
(In early December, students from Jeff Sowers class joined Kathy Jacobson and John Henrikson at Wild Thyme Farm. We involved the students in maintenance activities: they removed old plant protectors, and cut limbs from trees, (which were hindering Johns ability to mow down the tall grasses growing in between the trees) and stomped down grass.
Students will conduct a survey to assess plant mortality. (We were not able to conduct a mortality survey because of time constraints.). Student groups may replant up to 200 black cottonwoods and willow stakes (harvested onsite).
Work accomplished during the field trip on February 24th, 2009
Flood debris was removed from approximately 2000 trees. A record flood event in the first week of January 2009 brought grass, branches and logs into the planted area, and many smaller trees were completely buried under the debris. The weight of the debris was creating deformities in tree growth, as well as providing cover for mouse-like voles that were busy nibbling away the bark at the base of the trees, further decreasing the trees chances for survival.
Lower branches were removed from dozens of trees in the flood plain, up to a height of four feet, to minimize the crushing effect of raging flood waters. Along walking paths, tree branches were removed at a higher level to create safe and unhindered passage for visitors and maintenance equipment.
About 20 rooted native trees and over 300 live stakes (cuttings from resident cottonwood, willow and red osier dogwood) were planted in the "dead holes" of former trees and along the edge of Garrard Creek. Beavers continue to harvest several hundred trees each year, and many transplants die of other causes, so re-planting is essential in the first decade of plantation establishment to successfully achieve a forested environment.