Friday, March 28, 2014

Students begin fire restoration project

Group collecting money to buy seeds

Express Staff Writer

     A local student group has placed donation boxes at several area businesses and schools to raise money for a project that will help restore land burned last summer by the Beaver Creek Fire.

     The Student Conservation Council, created by the Wood River Land Trust last summer, is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service to buy sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings as well as native seed mix to be planted by student volunteers on public land at Greenhorn Gulch this fall.

     “After seeing all the hard work the firefighters put in to save this valley last summer, it is fulfilling to be able to contribute to the restoration and do our part,” said Alex Harten, a junior at the Community School in Sun Valley and founding member of the council. “This opportunity to help has opened my eyes to how much time and energy is spent to restore lands after a fire. We hope to motivate our friends, other students and adults to help with the fall planting.”

     The planting is intended to stabilize the soil and promote growth of native species to help combat invasive species expansion.

     Donation boxes can be found at Albertsons in Hailey, Atkinsons’ Market in Bellevue and Main Street Market and Starbucks in Ketchum.

     Daphne Muehle, director of development for the Wood River Land Trust, said the student group consists of six juniors and seniors at Wood River High School and the Community School. She said the Land Trust is now reaching out to freshmen and sophomores.

     “We’re engaging them at a young age, and we’re hoping that they’ll go on to become leaders of the conservation movement,” she said.

     Muehle said the students take field trips to learn about the Land Trust’s land conservation and river restoration projects, attend board meetings to learn about governance and take fly-fishing classes. She said an anonymous donor has funded the fly-fishing trips.

     “They get to give back to their community in a different way,” she said.

     The Wood River Land Trust works with landowners to protect and restore land, water and wildlife habitat in the Wood River Valley and surrounding areas.

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