It’s Raining Straw! Hallelujah! …is probably what the Rock Creek riparian community was singing this Monday when Rock Creek Middle School came to get some work done, but more on why later.
But first, the stage was set: the blackberry was gone, the native plants were placed out, the tools were ready. Suddenly our players arrive! A busload of 40 middle school students jump out and jump into their costumes of work gloves and boots. On cue, mother nature raises the curtain and what started out as a damp and frosty fall morning burst into a beautiful sunny autumn day and everyone gets to work!
Our Rock Creek Middle School Green Team got a LOT of work done at SOLV’s Rock Creek site in Happy Valley. In just 40 minutes, they managed to plant some 100 native plants! We also managed to wrestle a few pesky blackberry root hearts out of the ground. And for the grand finale, we ripped open 5 bales of straw and sprinkled it around our site. Why did we make it rain hay on our riparian habitat we are attempting to restore? Other than for the simple pleasures of creating an homage to the falling leaves of autumn, and enjoying straw-themed puns (Hey, Rock Creek, Hay!), the straw we sprinkled around the site is really good at temporarily slowing erosion from rain on bare river banks while we wait for the native plants we planted to really take root and grab onto that soil themselves. (Hay, thanks!)
We got an enormous amount of work done in such short time and everyone had fun (it’s hard not to in such great weather!).
Students were able to recall all the reasons we are working so hard to remove invasives and plant natives in their spot along the creek, including but not limited to….
1. Create a more diverse plant community for habitat
2. Provide a varied root structure (deep and shallow roots) to really hold on to the soil
3. Plant trees and shrubs that will provide shade for the stream
4. Provide a streamside(riparian) buffer to filter toxins and pollutants from urban and agricultural runoff