Pupils get hands dirty to help marsh


May 25, 2000|By Jean Marie Beall | Jean Marie Beall,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MORE THAN 60 New Windsor Middle School sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders donned rubber boots and old shoes last week to complete the spring planting phase of their wetlands project.

The spring planting gave them a chance to check on the more than 400 shrubs planted in October.

"Most of the plants we planted last fall made it," said Gary Gysberts, the school's seventh-grade science teacher who guided the pupils in the project.

Jill Reichert, an environmental specialist with the state Department of Natural Resources who is overseeing the pupils' work, agreed.

"I estimate that 95 percent of the trees survived," she said. "That's an excellent survival rate. Usually we're looking at 80 percent to 85 percent."

Although a lot of factors are involved, the way holes are dug has much to do with a plant's survival rate, she said.

"The students augured the holes," she explained. "This method loosens up the soil around the hole so that the tree's roots can spread. The students did it this way instead of digging holes."

The 3 acres of wetlands include four ecosystems: forest, shrub, emergent and permanent wet. The purpose of the project, according to Gysberts, is to restore and improve this wetlands and to re-create a habitat vital to many native animal species.

The project will filter pollution and retrieve nutrients from runoff in this area. It will also serve as an educational tool.

Last year, the pupils began planning the project. As part of the application process, they had to put together a slide show for the Maryland Department of the Environment showing what they planned to do.

Last week, they were busy planting 60 plants each of seven emergent species, Gysberts said. These include: arrow arum, pickerelweed, Dutch potato, New York aster, blue flag, tussock sedge and purple cornflower.

"It looks pretty good," Phil Axtell, 13, said of last fall's planting. "This is a really good environmental project for kids.

"This project has taught me a lot about the plants and trees," he said. "I sort of knew about some of them, but not as much as I know now. This has been a lot of fun."

Added Tommy Troiano,12: "I think this project is pretty cool because it helps the wells. This is the most fun I've ever had in a science class."

Two others, Amy Knopfmacher,13, and Lindsay Purcell, 12, visited the site frequently.

"After lunch we would come out and look at the trees and see if they were doing well," Amy said.

"I think the wetlands are bringing in more animals," said Lindsay.

"Yes, we're definitely bringing in more animals because we have given them more places to stay," Amy agreed.

Gysbert said he has noticed more birds.

"It's definitely starting to attract more wildlife," he said. "We're seeing more birds. And a person who walks his dog every day has said he has seen raccoon tracks.

"It will be neat to think what it will look like in 10 to 15 years," Gysbert said.

Uniontown memorial service

Uniontown Improvement Association will sponsor a small Memorial Day parade and memorial service beginning at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Lutheran Church parking lot in town.

The service is being organized by resident Dave Bennett, who served in Vietnam. He said this year's service will be the 55th.

"The first one was held May 27, 1945," Bennett said. "I have a program from that service. The Rev. J. H. Hock, Lawrence B. Fink and the Rev. Charles Bireh officiated at that service."

Bennett noted the first Memorial Day service was at the end of World War II. More than 90 names were listed on the program as being honored.

"I see a lot of names on this program that I recognize," he said. "There are names like Devilbiss and Myers."

Bennett said the parade will include the Marines Corps League color guard and himself.

"We usually pick people up as we go along," he said. "I'll make a few remarks at the Lutheran Cemetery and then everyone is welcome to join us at our house for lemonade and cookies."

Jean Marie Beall's Northwest column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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