Monday, January 2, 2012

Palindrome Day 11-11-11

Palindrome Day!!

The SMORE Team celebrated 11/11/11 with a service project on Follet’s Island at San Luis Pass across from Galveston Island. This area was hard hit by Hurricane Ike, and also suffers from the impact of human recreational activity.

Sponsored by the Artist boat and the American Wetland Foundation, this dune restoration project was a great learning opportunity for our group! We enjoyed a gorgeous fall day at the beach as we learned about the different types of plants that help to restore the dunes. 

A student describes the day:
“Friday November 11th we were at Follet Islands in the Brazoria County area in Galveston, Texas. The area was great, and the beach was right there with the water being nice and cold. No clouds were out and the sun was bright with a cool breeze going by. The dunes were not too far from the beach and there was a little pond in the area. The pond had crabs in it; we saw a blue a crab and a little ghost crab. You couldn’t have asked for a better day for restoring dunes.
A blue crab chills in the pond!

Whoa...careful there!
BUT, before we started we paused at exactly 11:11 am on 11-11-11 to take a picture!
Can you read the sign? It says 11-11-11

 Then our interpreter began to explain what we were going to do. She taught us about sand dune plants. There were three different kinds we had to plant. One was the Panica a medium sized plant that has thick stems. Another was the Personia a small plant that has a waxy texture and thick stems. Lastly was the Spartina a long and tall plant with thin and slightly sticky stems. 

There was also a certain way for you to plant them. First you have to dig a hole with the shovel. Then you put some vitamins in the hole and put the plant in. Lastly you put ash (like fertilizer) around it and then cover it up with sand and pat the sand around the plant.
Getting our instructions

After the instructions on how to plant, we were divided up into teams of 3 and given the boundaries of the areas we were going to plant in. 

Then we got to work! Different teams came up with different systems to work with. Some took turns digging, planting, etc. while others did the same task assembly line style!

Mrs. Lollie worked too!

There were few dunes left after Hurricane Ike. Natural and anthropogenic sources only helped erode the dunes even more. This project helped plant different species of grass- type plants to anchor dunes. We learned that this was not the only project they have done. As it turns, out one year they used old Christmas trees that didn’t have a stump. These dunes are a physical barrier, between the water and the land but they are also habitats for a lot of coastal animals. These are important nesting grounds for many species including Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and many other creatures.
Can you see the christmas tree?
Personally, I believe that the field trip (work) was a lot better than just reading about dune restoration. Instead we got the full experience on what it is about.  I had the best time learning about the plants and the dunes. The dunes are made from wind erosion and moving water. The vegetation is important because they keep the dunes from eroding and provide a habitat for organisms. The plants are sometimes destroyed during hurricanes like Ike. Helping the Artist Boat team plant more grass and vegetation will help restore some of the dunes- but there's still more to do!"

Thinking about the ocean!