H.S. students in joint conservation project

The bright sunny weather of Saturday May 7th was perfect for working outdoors, which is exactly how a group of volunteers spent the morning. A line of cars could be seen parked along the unpaved portion of Cushman Road in Pawling just beside the Oblong Land Conservancy’s (OLC) Cushman Road conservation easement.

Pawling High School student volunteers, as well as some parents, came out to help members of OLC, the Pawling Conservation Advisory Board (CAB), the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) and the Environmental Leaders Learning Alliance (ELLA) clear away garbage, dig out invasive plant species like Russian olive, Eurasian honeysuckle, and multiflora rose, which were replaced by native plant species such as pussy willows, northern red oaks, eastern white pine and elderberry.

The portion of the 200 acre easement that volunteers worked on is known as a fen, or a low land area which is covered, wholly or partially, with water. The project attempts to protect the land from rapidly growing invasive plant species that overtake native species, which negatively impact plants, animals and amphibians. Replacing these invasive species with native plants will preserve the ecosystem.

Student volunteers Taylor Dolce, Jandy Torres and Jimmy Boo, as part of their environmental studies class, have been working on a class project focused on solving local environmental issues that relate to watershed and municipal water supplies. The students were encouraged by their teacher, Lucille Prendergast, to team up with community organizations, such as OLC and the CAB.

A large amount of trash was cleared and a huge pile of invasives was also removed to make way for the planting of approximately 40 new trees and shrubs generously donated by WAC and ELLA through the good offices of Mike Purcell of the CAB.

The volunteers from PHS were Kayla Barnard, Jimmy Boo, Michelle Bissett, Gabrielle McGrath, Will Webber and Jandy Torres. They were joined by Jandy’s mother and brother, Kevin Torres, Gabrielle’s father Pat, Lucy Prendergast, Mike Purcell of the CAB, Brendan Murphy of the WAC and Sibyll Gilbert & Chris Wood of the OLC.

by Callye Rose for The Pawling Press