Students help environment one oak seedling at a time

Tree project to create nursery for Annapolis

April 13, 2003|By Kory Dodd | Kory Dodd,SUN STAFF

Laughing and joking in spite of a steady drizzle, members of the St. Mary's High School Environmental Club gathered around a narrow wooden table and hungrily devoured the pizza and cookies laid out before them. After an hour of planting 100 foot-tall red oak seedlings, the students were famished but satisfied.

"I understand that the watershed has a problem and even though we've only planted a hundred trees, we're helping the environment," said Stephanie Channing, 15.

Channing and the other students were the first wave of volunteers for the Annapolis Environmental Commission's "tree grow out" at Back Creek Nature Park. The goal is to create a tree nursery for the city of Annapolis, said Claudia Donegan, the commission's chairwoman.

The students gathered at the park Friday to organize the 90 bags of topsoil, 1,000 pots and seedlings for about three dozen volunteers arriving the next day, Donegan said.

They, in turn, were to plant 1,000 tree seedlings in pots. Once potted, the plants will be placed in a 30-by-40-foot field at the park and periodically watered. In a year, the trees and shrubs will be large enough to plant around the city, Donegan said.

About 90 percent to 95 percent of the seedlings are expected to survive, said Bud Reaves, a forester with the state's Department of Natural Resources.

Volunteers were planning to plant 10 types of native plant and shrub species, Donegan said.

Native species were chosen because "a lot of these are good buffer species," Reaves said. "If they're going to grow next to the water, they'll be able to survive in the wet conditions."

Many exotic plants cannot grow in such conditions, and those that do tend to spread quickly and push out the native species, Reaves said.

Donegan added that because many of the seedlings have berries, they "aren't just going to be good for water quality ... but good for the birds and wildlife." She said she blames the decline of local wildlife on a lack of food sources within the ever-growing city.

Planning for the event began in the fall, when Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer brainstormed with commission members on how to introduce more trees and to include residents in the project, Donegan said.

The commission chose to purchase seedlings because they cost about 50 cents each, whereas mature trees cost about $30 each. The project, which cost about $1,327, was funded by the city and a donation from the annual Eastport-A-Rockin' benefit, Donegan said. The city's public works department has volunteered to water the plants until they are ready for planting.

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