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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Camas National Wildlife Refuge, Hamer, Idaho, USA

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Camas National Wildlife Refuge, Hamer, Idaho, USA
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Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: Ammon
Posts: 1
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As president of my high school’s environmental club (aptly named Ben and Jerry’s, after the conservation kings of ice cream), I have organized multiple environmental projects. From a school-wide recycling program to planting water-savvy gardens, I pride myself on making my club as involved in the community as it can be. Recently, however, Ben and Jerry’s performed its perhaps most memorable service. My town is located in an amazing wildlife area. An hour and a half away from Yellowstone National Park, Idaho Falls is nestled near the Teton Mountains and is built smack dab around the Snake River. Just a few towns over, in the nondescript town of Hamer, lies a lesser-known yet notable wildlife park. Camas National Wildlife Refuge is home to many species of waterfowl, as well as high-desert mammals and reptiles. The refuge is covered in a combination of marshland and sagebrush—not an unusual sight in southeastern Idaho. So when we contacted the refuge only to find that it was in dire need of sagebrush seedlings, the club rolled its collective eyes. Sagebrush? In Idaho? It’s everywhere, it’s ugly, and this project seemed superfluous. When we arrived at the park early one Saturday morning, though, we realized the method behind planting sagebrush: a fire had rolled over a few ridges of the refuge, obliterating any plants. Sage grouse were already becoming fewer and farther between; thanks to this fire, finding food and shelter had been made even more difficult for them.
Greeted by the sight of thousands of baby sagebrush loaded onto a flatbed utility truck, the club was daunted. Each seedling was swaddled in a plastic tube (a huge waste, but there seemed no other effective way to transport the plants), and, of course, was frozen into said plastic tube. Because of this, the club spent two hours freeing just two thousand of the seedlings from their confines. Finally, we could begin our project. Pairing off, we grabbed tools and slung loaded planting sacks around our waists, and set off up the hill. We were instructed to plant “colonies” of sagebrush—three or four in a small area, then move a few paces away and begin again. We repeated this process until three ridges were saturated by the hardy plants, and finally quit. Between just ten people, we had planted 1,800 seedlings! Exhausted, we ate lunch inside the employee’s area (a no-waste meal—each person brought a mess kit.) After a long day of manual labor, my club and I were ready to go home and kick our feet up… but first we needed to recognize our achievements. Ben and Jerry’s had accomplished a huge feat in just a few hours—with only a few slivers and cactus pokes!
Date: December 30, 2010 Views: 6081 File size: 18.2kb, 693.6kb : 2048 x 1536
Hours Volunteered: 80
Volunteers: 10
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 5 to 65
Native Trees Planted: 1800
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