Students know how to block an invasive species from their watershed by planting trees which will combat the growth of a non-native grass which chokes out other plant life.

Wallkill River Watershed Management Group has been working with 10 High Point Regional High School advanced placement environmental science students and their teacher, Aaron Baker.  They have planted 150 trees along the west branch of the Papakating Creek. Planting the trees will prevent the growth of invasive canary grass, by shading it out, and preventing it from growing and spreading. Reed canary grass can grow as high as six feet, crowding and choking native species.

Baker is gratified to know that his students have the ability to work on important projects that have a long term benefit to their community and environment.

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“Providing students with the opportunity to apply what they have learned in a way that directly improves the environment, especially at such a local and personal level, is probably the most powerful single thing I can do as an environmental science teacher,” Baker said.

Baker says that planting native trees improves water quality through reducing erosion and restoring shade to the creek banks. Water temperatures will be lower, resulting in higher levels of dissolved oxygen, which is important for local species such as trout.

The project is now in its second year, and High Point students have planted a total of 350 trees.

Senior Chris Hennion said the project was “rewarding,” and that the experience taught him “in ways that a classroom could not.”

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