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Students Participate in Pajaro Project Planting Day

Pajaro Valley High School students plant trees, shrubs and grasses along the Pajaro River at an ARRA project site near Watsonville, CA.

Pajaro Valley High School students plant trees, shrubs and grasses along the Pajaro River at an ARRA project site near Watsonville, CA.

As many as 28 students from the Pajaro Valley High School recently planted wetland trees, shrubs and grasses as part of a Pajaro River Watershed project near Watsonville, California.

For this project, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is working with the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, Watsonville Wetlands Watch and the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County to restore wetland habitat in the Pajaro River floodplain.

While participating in the planting day, students learned what it’s like to work as a biologist from local volunteer and consultant Gary Kittleson, watched a demonstration of how wetlands clean water and listened for bird calls.

Students were very enthusiastic about the experience. Twelfth-grader Bruny Mora called the day “inspiring.”“There’s so much to learn about the environment,” he said. “It really connects to many things—problems that are going on right now.”

Fellow senior Jackeline Castovena-Davila said the trip was “amazing.” She was moved by Kittleson’s story of how he came to work in Watsonville’s wetlands. “It…inspires us to reach for our dreams,” she said.

The project is made up of two adjacent floodplain easements totaling about 30 acres, and is funded through NRCS and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). ARRA, commonly known as the Recovery Act, was created by the Obama Administration to boost the economy, in part by funding watershed and flood prevention operations.

The Pajaro River Watershed project will use the $357,000 in government funding to decrease the continual threat of flooding, restore floodplain function, revitalize fish and wildlife habitat, combat noxious weeds and improve water quality.

Learn more about NRCS ARRA Programs.

Check out more conservation stories on the USDA blog.

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