After planting 100 trees native to the West Kootenay, the J.L Crowe Greening Project continues to grow its initiative to reclaim city landscape and support the bird population surrounding the school.
School grounds and stretches along the banks of Highway 22 are a blank canvas of sandy terrain and in other locations, crowded with invasive black locust trees, non-indigenous to the area.
“We want to change this,” said Colin Adamson, teacher for the Sustainable Resources and Outdoor Academy program.
“We focused on planting three native indigenous species that will be successful in our local climate. The students are being educated on plant and ecosystem units through this initiative.”
In October, almost 160 students from six different classes, had shovels in hand to plant eight to 12 foot trees of the scoulars willow, red-osier dogwood and black cottonwood varieties.
“Many local bird species rely on the willow and dogwood for nesting,” explained Adamson. “So it is our hope to study and see this successful habitat develop as well.”
The tree planting initiative is welcome news for bird enthusiast and long-time Christmas Bird Count volunteer Linda Szymkowiak.
“Many species of birds which come north to breed are declining in their numbers, some alarmingly so,” she said. “It is commendable that J.L. Crowe students have taken on this greening project.”
Some of reasons for the bird decline includes fragmentation and loss of habitat due to urban sprawl, agriculture and industrial use of land, added Szymkowiak.
“This will result in an improved habitat for birds,” she continued. “After all, what would a spring be like without the birdsong of nesting birds?”
The greening project became a year-round hands-on learning incentive after the school constructed an indoor greenhouse last week.
The structure is adjacent to the community garden and furthers experiential learning with the planting of local and native species of shrubs, grasses and flowering plants during winter months.
Earlier this year, students planted the first community garden on high school grounds and supported local food banks with fresh produce throughout the summer.
“This was just the start,” said Adamson. “We were able to provide several hundred pounds of food and we are really going to be organizing our garden with six more raised boxes.
“I personally like knowing that students are going to come away from this with first-hand knowledge of how to grow and raise their own healthy food and understand urban ecosystem renewal,” he added.
In recognition of the support the J.L. Crowe Greening Project has received from Teck Trail Operations, a plaque and tree planting presentation was held at the front entrance to the high school Wednesday.
Students and teachers were on hand to thank David DeRosa, superintendent of Teck’s ecosystems projects for his planting expertise and the company’s $7,000 donation to the project.
“Teck Trail Operations is proud to partner with J.L. Crowe on this environmental initiative,” said Catherine Adair, the company’s community relations leader.
“It is designed to give back to the community through education, environmental awareness and beautification of the surrounding community.”
The planting program is designed with local community support to cover bare soil to reduce dust and potential erosion, enhance local biodiversity and provide aesthetic improvements.