COOS BAY — The Coos Watershed Association teamed up with students from Millicoma Intermediate School on Wednesday to plant more than 100 native trees along the Millicoma Marsh Trail.
“We had about 127 seventh grade students help out today,” said Millicoma science teacher Sonja McMackin. “It’s fun to get out the classroom and do some hands-on activities that relate to the concepts we’ve been reviewing.”
Millicoma Intermediate School students get a lesson from the Coos Watershed Association along the Millicoma Marsh Trail in Coos Bay.
According to McMackin, for the past two weeks the students have been learning about the various elements involved with having a healthy, thriving ecosystem as well as reviewing the elements that could cause significant damage.
“We talked a lot about food chains, invasive versus native species, human impact and the importance of biological diversity,” said McMackin. “It’s awesome to have the marsh here, which is like a five minute walk from our class, to study.”
Restoration crew leader David Nelson, of the Coos Watershed Association, said it’s been great seeing the kids each year become more environmentally aware and involved in their surroundings.
“I noticed when I asked the kids if they knew what invasive species were and if they can name any almost all of them raised their hands and knew the answers,” he said. “It’s nice knowing that at a young age they can identify these plants and know what is and is not supposed to be here.”
Millicoma Intermediate School students work Wednesday planting trees along the Millicoma Marsh Trail with the Coos Watershed Associations in C…
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Nelson, who joined the Millicoma Marsh restoration efforts about seven years ago, has worked with other community partners under the Millicoma Marsh Stewardship Group to help restore and maintain the marsh.
About 10 years ago, a massive removal of purple loosestrife took place at the marsh through biocontrol efforts that included releasing beetles into the area to eat and destroy the invasive plants. Since then, the landscape has been empty, said Nelson and multiple replanting projects have been underway.
Oregon ash, Western red cedar and Sitka spruce were among some the native trees being replanted. All the plants used Wednesday were pulled from the Coos Watershed Association’s Matson Creek Native Plant Nursery.
While still battling invasive species like nutria and Himalayan blackberry at the marsh, the addition of the 140 native trees will help revive the area and outcompete those unwanted species, added Nelson.
Coos Watershed Association’s noxious weeds coordinator Lexi Snell advised anyone wanting to help out with future restoration projects can do so by learning of upcoming events or volunteer opportunities on the watershed’s Facebook page.
Millicoma Intermediate School students Matthew Stout, left, and Case Zunino plant a tree Wednesday along the Millicoma Marsh Trail in Coos Bay.
As for what folks can do now to help, Snell said taking a few moments to clean the bottom of your shoes after finishing a hike or walk can go a long way.
“It helps prevent you from spreading invasive seeds and taking it back home with you,” said Snell.