Teen camp restoration project during the month of July. Our project is nestled on a remote property in the Eddy mountains of northern California. And as part of each summer camp experience, teens discover the importance and restoration techniques to heal damaged wetlands. We developed this program over the years to educate our students the best way to repair the damage caused to sensitive wetlands by illegal off-road vehicles.
Teen Camp Conservation Project
With hands-on involvement teens are empowered by learning that they can make a difference through positive action. ~Mark Wienert
How off road vehicles damage wetlands
When vehicles travel over and through these water soaked wetlands tires create deep and rutted trenches. The surface water then drains into these trenches, lowering the water table from the surrounding area and causing the wetland to dry out. The difference in elevation from the wetland surface to the bottom of the trench also leads to heavy soil erosion and gully formation.
Teens learn importance of Bogs, Fens, and Wetlands to the Environment
For millenniums, wetlands have been an integral part of a healthy and robust ecosystem. These ecosystem’s supports thousands of diverse animal and plant species.
Bogs and fens are formed by the up-welling of underground springs forming thick carpets of roots with peat type soils. This structure acts as natural filtering systems slowing flow from snow runoff each spring.
Then holding and distributing moisture and sediment through a network of plant and roots helpful to overall water quality.
Wet meadows also help to maintain water temperature. Cool temperatures are important to fish and other aquatic animals. These area’s provide healthy habitat for a diverse variety of plant and animal species that depend on these systems for their survival.
A few of these animal and plant species are the California Black Bear, Pacific Fisher, and the carnivores Darlingtonia californicum. Also known as cobra plant, that grow in boggy serpentine soils of the Klamath mountains of northern California.
Wetland Restoration Tools
Wetland restoration is accomplished over time by mimicking nature’s healing processes.
An example of this technique is applied in restoring a rutted track made by an off-road vehicle. First we partially fill a rut with living blocks of wetland plants. These blocks are made up of native forbs, grasses, soil, sediment, and roots.
Staggering the blocks along the rutted track, and maintaining a very low profile of vegetation in the trench. Allows the flow of water to gently spill over the top of the soil blocks and through the leaves and forbs, which catch the fine, suspended sediment and other particulates.
Over time new roots develop
Over time, plant roots make their way into the newly deposited sediment and support the wetland by slowing the flow of run-off in the ruts.
As these roots multiply, grass density and height increase creating more roughness that can trap more fines, leaves, and particulates.
As organic and inorganic matter accumulates, the grasses grow up through this layer, eventually raising the level of the rut thus restoring the wet meadow and protecting the wetland from premature drying.
Teen camp conservation project
Our camp offers teens an opportunity to experience, first-hand, applied skills that can reverse the loss of a wetland habitat while earning community service credits. The best education comes through doing. We are proud of our teens and the great work they do at camp.
Register your son or daughter in one of Lifesong Wilderness Adventures Teen Adventure courses this summer to continue the work. Education means making a difference, and making a difference is fun and worthwhile!