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Activity Log

Service Learning Program Kickoff

By September 22, 2014No Comments

September 22-27, 2014:     Austin Youth River Watch launched a Service Learning Program this fall, working in partnership with Impact Austin, the City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department, and many other generous River Watch supporters.  Hands-on projects will include enhancing and restoring streams and rivers throughout watersheds in the Austin area. River Watchers from nine Austin ISD high schools will participate in 10, week-long service learning projects throughout the year. Read about our first Service Learning Project with McCallum River Watchers at Turkey Creek Trail at Emma Long Park:
Monday 9/22/2014
Six River Watchers from McCallum High School met with three City of Austin Wildlands Division Biologists at Turkey Creek Trail at Emma Long Park. During a nature hike, the COA Biologists identified native plant species and discussed the importance of native plants for a healthy stream ecosystem. River Watchers completed a pre-assessment report to assess conditions along the trail, refine current management practices, and explore new strategies. River Watchers were presented with scenarios involving trail and stream, ecological degradation issues and asked to consider possible origins and then create solutions for each scenario. They wrapped up their day with snacks and football at the trailhead with the COA Biologists.
Tuesday 9/23/2014
Four River Watchers from McCallum High School met with two City of Austin Biologists as they discussed how they manage the land to provide habitat for the endangered endemic bird, the Golden Cheeked Warbler. River Watchers then began installing Switchgrass plugs harvested from Eastern Travis County, dispersing Inland Sea Oats seed, which were collected onsite, and building a protective ‘blanket’ of downed woody branches with foliage of non-native species (also collected onsite) on the banks of Turkey Creek at the trail crossing. River Watchers built upon their knowledge of proper land use along streams by learning more about deep-rooted, beneficial native grass plugs and collecting and dispersing another native grass species. River Watchers then installed two signs to notify visitors of their ecological restoration work. They finished the workday by making snacks and interacting with City of Austin staff.
Wednesday 9/24/2014
Four River Watchers from McCallum High School joined one of three focus areas scheduled for their workday. The first group worked on building a fence made from natural materials found onsite, which will block a social trail and shortcut a switchback. This group then dispersed Inland Sea Oats and Beautyberry seed, which were collected onsite, to re-vegetate the area that has been left denuded by foot traffic. The second group collected downed woody material of non-native trees for the fence. The third group assisted a biologist with removing non-native trees near the stream. Students finished the day by making snacks and relaxing near the trailhead.
Thursday 9/25/2014
Seven River Watchers from McCallum High School circled up at the trailhead to review their current project at Turkey Creek Trail and then divided up into three focus areas for the workday. The first group was led by a volunteer with experience in trail design and construction. They built steps on the trail at the creek crossing and leveled the path with materials from the site to create a safe, more noticeable trail that will limit the impact on the surrounding area. The second group continued their work on the construction of the fence to the social trail at the switchback. The third group helped a biologist remove non-native tree species. River Watchers were joined by the City of Austin Staff and volunteers at Emma Long Park for pizza.
Saturday 9/27/2014
Three River Watchers from McCallum High School partnered with the Wildlands Division and Austin Parks Foundation on National Public Lands Day to host an educational workday at Turkey Creek Trail. River Watchers and Wildlands Division Staff led 20 volunteers on hikes through the park, showcasing their restoration work and discussing the impact on the creek and trail habitat. They also showed volunteers the social trails that were rerouted and the new signage which notifies visitors of their ecological restoration work. River Watchers staffed a table at the trailhead and visited with hikers as they entered the trail.

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