Students planted 150 trees and shrubs for clean water and wildlife habitat
Vermont has lost as much as 35 percent of its wetlands since the 1600s, and restoring them is an important means of improving the state’s water quality and wildlife habitat. A class of horticulture students from the River Valley Tech Center in Springfield helped tip the scales in favor of mother nature with a recent tree planting at Farm on the River.
Students joined VLT and US Fish and Wildlife to plant 150 trees. These native trees included buttonbush, shrub willow, red osier dogwood, gray dogwood, and elderberry. The effort will improve migratory and breeding habitat for songbirds and waterfowl.
VLT’s Allaire Diamond said she saw wildlife immediately attracted to the new plantings.
“It was so gratifying to work with the kids and see their teacher, John Harmer, build their understanding of soils and plants. The experience will help prepare them for future work on the land, no matter their particular path,” said Allaire.
John agreed. “This project was perfect for my students as it combined a planting that helps to reestablish native wetland species, transplanting skills and best of all outside gaining hands-on experience,” he said.
The tree planting was part of the farm’s larger wetland restoration plan. The plan also included plugging ditches around a fallow field with stone so that water can remain there longer. The farm’s owners, Maggie & Matt Kurek, established the wetland protection zone, which includes an old meander of the Connecticut River, as part of their conservation agreement.
VLT will continue to work with the Kureks to make sure their wetlands thrive. As for John and his students, they made the grade: We hope to continue the relationship with River Valley Tech Center as we take on more restoration projects in the future.