Over 30 students spent the morning at Annex Pond on May 2, helping to clean and improve the area. The work was part of a project, combining multiple classes and help from Wildsight and Columbia Basin Trust (CBT).
The students were from two Grade 8 science classes and a Grade 8/9 Outdoor Education class, working on separate projects dedicated to the wetlands and another to studying the local watershed.
“It’s part of the Know Your Watershed program, which is a program that is a part of Wildsight and the Columbia Basin Trust,” said Wildsight’s Ayla Bennett, who was helping organize the project.
With the Know Your Watershed program, students study the watershed to understand where the water comes from and where it goes to. After studying the watershed, students have the opportunity to create an action plan dedicated to helping the watershed.
The Outdoor Education class focused their project on learning about the wetlands, which was supported by the BC Wildlife Federation. Students in the class experienced three field days at the Annex Pond to learn about the wetlands. Four students from the class presented to City Council at the Apr. 25 Committee of the Whole meeting, detailing their project.
On Monday, students were divided into teams to pull noxious weeds, such as knapweed from the area and to wrap trees to protect them from beavers and other wildlife. They also planted many species of plants to help the area.
“We are going to be planting hundreds and hundreds of plants. We have sedges, wild roses, alumroot, we have a few birch and a few cattails. We want to improve the habitat and function of the wetlands,” said Bennett. “The cattails are vital as well because they are some of the best natural filters in the world. They are really great at filtering the water and why that is such an important point here is because this is all storm water. It’s water from the streets. The more filtering it gets, the cleaner it will be when it gets to the Elk River.”
According to Kate Brennan and Paige Polacik, two Grade 8 students from the Outdoor Education class, the project has taught them a lot about the wetlands in Fernie.
“The Outdoor Ed class has been here – this is our third time. This is the first time with the science class but it has been really fun all three times,” said Brennan. It’s really fun.”
Polacik echoed her sentiments, saying they have studied two separate projects on the area. “For science, we did the watershed and for the Outdoor Ed we did a wetlands program. It’s been fun.”