Monday, November 10, 2008

New Montana Student Riparian/Wetland Project: A Letter to Principals and Science Teachers from Middle School Teacher Eric Vincent

Eric Vincent November 3, 2008
Holy Spirit Catholic School
2820 Central Ave. Great Falls, MT 59401

RE: Montana Student Riparian/Wetland Project

To: Principal and Science Teacher(s)

Hello, my name is Eric Vincent. I am a middle school teacher at Holy Spirit School in Great Falls, and represent a group of students involved in an innovative project that seeks to repair and sustain threatened riparian and wetland areas across the beautiful state of Montana. Working in conjunction with agencies such as the Missouri River Conservation Districts Council, Assistant State Conservationist, Montana Wetlands Legacy Partnership, Dept. of Fish Wildlife and Parks, and others, the group is developing an effective, feasible method of involving students across the state in helping to protect the wetland and riparian areas of Montana.

According to the Montana Audubon Society, “Less than 2% of Montana is comprised of wetlands, yet 50% of bird species depend on these important areas,” and another 75% of the state’s plant and animal diversity can be found at riparian sites. In addition to being a critical habitat for birds and other wildlife, wetlands assist in water purification and flood control. Current estimates state that half of the U.S. wetland areas have disappeared over the past two centuries. Sadly, 100,000 acres of wetlands in America are destroyed annually. To ensure these crucial habitats thrive, it is vital that we each get involved in our local area to physically mend our environment, while educating others along the way. Community grassroots initiatives such as ours can be one of the most effective methods of making a real difference, and we believe Montana’s youth are the right individuals for the challenge.

The plan goes something like this: Schools across Montana (every high school and middle school, over 400) are being asked to create “Riparian Repair Teams” that consist of 5-15 students—theoretically one school could have several teams. Once established, each team would be designated a riparian or wetland site close to their physical location and would be asked to visit this location one to two times a year to provide necessary improvements to the site; partnering and sponsoring agencies will identify the area, threat, and action required by each team, while we would participate in and help coordinate the efforts. Typical duties of a “Repair Team” may include: monitoring water quality and/or fish and bird populations, eliminating noxious weeds, planting native plants, or perhaps even assisting in river bank restoration. The idea is that each site will be assigned multiple teams, thereby requiring a team to commit to only one visit per year. Our goal is to have a working calendar by spring of 2009.

We believe the plan is both simple, and effective, and highlights the old adage, “Many hands make light work.” We ask you to please join us in this endeavor by saying YES to restoring and preserving our wetlands, and YES to creating your own local Riparian Repair Team. Let Montana serve as the flagship to a program that, we hope, will be instituted in every state in America.

NAME OF RIPARIAN REPAIR TEAM__________________________________________________

NAME OF SCHOOL___________________________________________________


NAME OF CONTACT__________________________________________________




_____________________ ____________________

_____________________ ____________________

_____________________ ____________________

_____________________ ____________________

_____________________ ____________________

Feel free to add any comments:

Many Thanks! On behalf of Delanie, Mikaela, Mckenna, Laura, Lane, and Eric

No comments: