Wildlife biologist Dave Rugh looks on as interns, with Land Trust staff members, Cristina and Carrie, dig yellow flag iris at Donovan Creek Wetland Preserve.
During the week of April 4-8, Jefferson Land Trust’s 2022 Youth Corps interns spent their spring breaks undertaking a variety of key restoration projects across several of our nature preserves. Six high school students from Jefferson and Kitsap counties joined Land Trust Preserve Manager Carrie Clendaniel and Office and Preserve Assistant Cristina Villalobos, as well as experts from the community, for a hands-on education about the importance of thoughtful management activities for forest and stream health.
Started in 2017, the Jefferson Land Trust’s Youth Corps program has a dual purpose: The first is to engage local high school students, introduce them to potential career paths, provide outdoor learning opportunities, and ultimately train the next generation of people who will care for our shared, and permanently protected, nature preserves. The second is to provide needed support for our team on a few of our more challenging preserve projects, such as those which involve remote, rough terrain and/or require full work days to complete.
According to Carrie, who oversees the Youth Corps program, the students showed up every day with a great attitude and willingness to learn. Ava asked great questions of our career speakers, Sara shared her limitless energy and enthusiasm, Noah always volunteered to carry the mattocks while working on blackberry, and Daniel served as the tool specialist, ensuring that the Corps started and ended each day with all necessary tools.
And two students, Claire and Grace, were tasked with documenting and photographing the week’s activities by serving as Communications Officers. The pair did a fantastic job logging the group’s activities through daily field reports and lots of great photos, which our social media followers enjoyed throughout the week.
Monday: On Monday, we worked at the Silver Reach Preserve on the Big Quilcene River. We uprooted a large blackberry patch that was encroaching on a back channel which we learned was a crucial place for young salmon and trout. We also pulled tansy ragwort from a few important gravel bars.
Tuesday: Today the Youth Corps visited Chimacum Creek at Illahee Preserve where we learned about the features of a healthy and complex creek and forest environment. Then we went to the S-Curve Preserve and pulled holly, ivy, and bittersweet nightshade. We also covered up social trails to encourage preserve visitors to stay on designated trails to maintain healthy vegetation. Later we explored Snow Creek and heard from Sarah Doyle [Program and Partnership Manager at the North Olympic Salmon Coalition] about future restoration projects to add much needed log jams to improve the meander of Snow Creek.
Wednesday: On Wednesday, we visited the Duckabush Riparian Forest. We set up amphibian monitoring stations, some as a control and others near downed log surrogates to see if the logs attract amphibians. In addition we also set up trail cameras to watch the monitoring sites to see if any larger wildlife is attracted to clearings created around the surrogate nurse logs. We also talked with forester Mike Cronin who taught us about the history of forestry and the ways in which economics and environmentalism can work together.
Thursday: On Thursday we were at the Duckabush Oxbow and Wetlands Preserve where we removed Himalayan blackberries from the places they would have a more difficult time coming back to. We talked with Eric Nagle about what it means to be an endangered species attorney, as well as the environmental and social impact of wolves and goats. Later in the day we also had the opportunity to talk to Dylan Bergman [Point No Point Treaty Council Wildlife Program Manager]. Dylan brought elk sheds and skulls for the group to look at.
Friday: On Friday, we worked on the Donovan Creek Wetland Preserve. We were removing both bittersweet nightshade and yellow flag iris. We were able to speak with Dave Rugh, a volunteer Preserve Steward who has experience working with whales in Alaska. We also made a trip to the bank and discussed all things finances. This week was incredible!