Fernie Secondary School (FSS) students and the Elk River Alliance (ERA) recently planted 750 trees in a conservation effort along the Elk River.
According to a release from the ERA, on Oct. 25, FSS students from Grade 7 and 12 braved the fall weather to plant 600 trees on the Morrissey Meadows conservation lands, owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
The effort was led by the ERA, who planted another 150 plants a few weeks later with the goal of stabilizing stream-side areas of the Elk River and improving wildlife habitat.
What was planted includes native seedlings like saskatoons, dogwood, wildrose and snowberries in an area where cottonwood trees were previously planed by the NCC. The seedlings will serve as an understory for the future cottonwood forest.
For the students, it was a valuable opportunity to learn about riparian vegetation and to get some hands-on experience with ecosystem restoration.
Dagny Lentz, a Grade 7 science teacher at FSS, said the students are currently learning about ecology and the inter-connectedness of plants, animals, and humans with their local environment.
“In addition to teaming up with the Grade 12 Leadership class, planting trees with Evgeni and the Elk River Alliance was a fantastic opportunity for students to take classroom learning out to the land and discover their collective ability to contribute positive and lasting impacts on a local ecosystem.”
Erin Webber, a Grade 12 teacher at FSS, said it was a great opportunity for the students to get outside and do something good for the environment while collaborating with the local community.
“They learned the value of stream-side vegetation and how ecosystem restoration work is done in a fun and engaging way.”
The Morrissey Meadows Conservation Area is a 43 hectare property previously owned by the Fitzen family. It was acquired by NCC for conservation purposes in 2018, and since then, the Regional District of East Kootenay has partnered with the NCC to install elk-exclusion fencing, and planted cottonwood, willow, and dogwood live stakes.
The ERA is also collaborating with the NCC to continue restoring Morrissey Meadows as part of a broader ERA cottonwood restoration project, which will see the planting of tens of thousands of native trees and shrubs over the next five years, according to the release. More information on that can be found at the ERA website.
The ERA acknowledged both the NCC and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation as funding partners.