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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Austin, Texas, USA

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Austin, Texas, USA
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Registered: December 2007
City/Town/Province: Austin
Posts: 1
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When I first decided on riverbank stabilization for a conservation project, I had little idea what impact my project would ultimately have. Looking back on what we accomplished, I am proud to say that the hard work of my friends, family, community (not to mention the countless hours my advisor and I spent worrying) have helped to make the environment a better place.
Although it took weeks of discussion, my advisor from the Hill Country Conservancy and I agreed that riverbank stabilization would was a perfect project to take on. The goal was to establish fifty-five feet of riverbank which, at present, was hastily eroding away and reflecting boat waves that unnaturally disrupted underwater habitats. In addition to animal habitats, tree roots were exposed, causing dangerous conditions in the area.

Before I could start, I had to gather the necessary materials. I had to find labor, concrete, and rocks. Numerous phone calls and visits to hardware stores later, everything was ready. Over thirty volunteers were gathered for the two days of work—from the young elementary students to the fathers and mothers of the youth present. We met on a Saturday and, just as the weatherman predicted, the clouds were gone and the sun shone brightly in the cool autumn air.

I split my volunteers, primarily youth with a few adults, into three separate teams. The first team, full of heavy lifters, moved the concrete bags into the river. Concrete bags provided a barrier between the soil and the river, slowing future erosion. Another team consisted of individuals who filled and carried buckets to the river, full of 3” by 5” rocks. Since the concrete bags were “stair-stepped” outwards into the river, rocks were used as backfill, providing a second barrier against erosion, and also serving as a habitat for small reptiles and amphibians in the area. The final team stood in the river, receiving bags and buckets, and placing them where needed.
We worked from morning to afternoon, stopping only for breaks and lunch. Piles of concrete and rocks shrank, and the river clouded with our movements. Before long, the concrete stacks reached from edge to edge of the bank, and the people in the river had no place to move. With the extra materials, we decided to stabilize additional sections of river to the left and right of the original project. Another day of work, and the physical component of the project was completed, but the work had only just begun.

I made phone calls to ten of the local papers—three of them ran an article featuring my project. A month later, the Conservancy called me up, and invited me to do a presentation of my project for some of their members. I gladly obliged, happily informing these men and women about the importance of the riverbank as a habitat to a variety of life, and the need to protect riverbanks from continued erosion.

My involvement with this project has impacted me for the better, and I hope that it has had the same impact on others. The riverbank stabilization my team built continues to do its job, reducing the effects of boat waves on local marine habitats and giving wildlife shelter in the rocks on the riverbank’s edge, and will provide a positive environmental example in the future. In the end, protecting and preserving our environment is a responsibility we as human beings must uphold, for if we do not, then no one will.
· Date: December 25, 2007 · Views: 5410 · File size: 32.7kb, 336.2kb · : 1500 x 1125 ·
Hours Volunteered: 208
Volunteers: 36
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 6 to 60
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 1
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