The Main Stream

Jun 28, 2013 10:31 AM by Ryan Haarer

Vail students working on Cienega Watershed Partnership to protect environment

TUCSON- The Bureau of Land Management provided a grant the students in the Youth Engaged Stewardship must manage. Through learning leadership skills and working in the field the 12 students are using the funds to repair a riparian area at risk of disappearing.

"Instead of a job where they are coming out and we are telling them what they have to do, they're literally forming a board, given a budget, and deciding how to spend it and do their conservation efforts," said project coordinator, Christine In-Albon.

The effort this summer is making these wetlands in the desert a place teeming with life.

"They are going to put a lot of endangered species here like the Chiricahua leopard frog. And so we are going to put plants here that will make it a better place for the leopard frog to live," said student, Haley Stamper.

The water umbel is the plant of the day along this pond. The students pulled on their boots and pushed through the mud to plan fifty plants.

"The umbel will stabilize the banks and stop the erosion practices. Otherwise what we have out here is just a big muddy flat. So it kind of solidifies. It also helps the root take in the water and produce these wetlands, these small ponds instead of the water just washing off," said In-Albon.

The leopard frog is endangered thanks to a non-native bullfrog and waning water in the drying riparian area.

"It's kind of a keystone species because most animals feed on it. Even jaguars, hawks, all kinds of different things. So the riparian area is kind of vital and if we can keep together the most important things, start with those things, other species in the area will thrive," said student Luca Valente.

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