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Lomakatsi Engages Students in Salmon Habitat Restoration

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Lomakatsi Engages Students in Salmon Habitat Restoration

ASHLAND, OR — After a dry, hot summer, autumn is finally here and that means students back in school, rain in the forecast, and salmon making their way back up our streams. Cooler weather and periodic rainstorms also mean great conditions for fall planting! That’s why each year in early November, Lomakatsi Restoration Project hosts their annual Streamside Forest Recovery Week, in which they lead hundreds of local youth in planting thousands of native trees and shrubs along streams in the Bear Creek Watershed.

Lomakatsi Restoration Project is an Ashland-based non-profit organization that implements forest and watershed restoration programs and projects in Oregon and northern California. Since its inception in 1995, Lomakatsi has been implementing aquatic restoration projects along miles of rivers, creeks and streams throughout the region in an effort to improve habitat for threatened salmon. Annually as part of their Restoration Ecology Education Program, Lomakatsi spearheads Streamside Forest Recovery Week in partnership with local schools and youth groups. The event is part of Lomakatsi’s yearly fundraiser to support youth engagement in ecological stewardship and long-term restoration of salmon habitat.

Last year, over 600 students worked alongside Lomakatsi staff to reestablish streamside forests on Lomakatsi’s active restoration projects. This year, students from 12 schools and youth groups will plant a variety of native species at five sites located along Bear Creek and its tributaries in Ashland and Medford.

In preparation for the event, students are shown how to care for native plants while visiting Lomakatsi’s four shade house nurseries, managed in partnership with local schools and community establishments. Right now, the nurseries are overflowing with fall colors, from the red stems of the red osier dogwood, to the yellow and orange leaves of big leaf maple and alder. Other native species grown in the nursery for this year’s planting include Oregon grape, cottonwood, ocean spray, and mock orange, just to name a few.

In addition to coordinating educational events and getting native trees and shrubs at the nursery ready for planting in the ground, Lomakatsi staff are busy preparing the restoration sites for students of all ages, kindergarten through high school. As is done each year, brush crews are manually removing Himalayan blackberry, which grows prolifically in riparian areas across the Pacific Northwest and inhibits growth of other native vegetation important for wildlife habitat.

Removal of pesky invasive weeds such as blackberry also allows for a much more enjoyable educational experience, enabling students to plant their native tree or shrub at a spot of their choosing within the project area. During Streamside Forest Recovery Week, students learn how the native trees and shrubs they plant will grow to supply a variety of benefits to salmon and wildlife habitat such as improved water quality, increased shade, reduced water temperatures, increased nutrients, filtration of pollutants and erosion prevention.

Right now, Lomakatsi’s fundraising campaign for Streamside Forest Recovery Week is in full swing and will continue through November. In addition to supporting the event, funds raised will replenish the nurseries and support Lomakatsi’s youth education programs, providing youth and community engagement in ecosystem restoration, environmental education and stewardship throughout the year by Lomakatsi professional restoration practitioners and environmental educators.

More information about Streamside Forest Recovery Week and how to help support Lomakatsi’s youth education and salmon habitat projects can be found at www.lomakatsi.org/streamside-2014-main-webpage/. Information is also posted on Lomakatsi’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lomakatsi.

Kids Planting Trees during Lomokatsi's Streamside Forest Recovery Week

Children Planting Trees during Lomokatsi’s Streamside Forest Recovery Week