Posts Tagged 'wetland nursery program'

Re-cap: Wetland Restoration in New York

Last week, our conservation staff traveled to upstate New York to engage students in local wetland restoration projects. Two schools, Chenango Forks High School and Ridge Road Elementary School, participated in a modified version of our Wetland Nursery program.

ny wetland restoration

For the students who live in the northern end of the watershed, it can be difficult to understand the connection between their community and the Chesapeake Bay. But after learning about and caring for different kinds of wetland plants, the students began to see how wetlands in their area can help clean-up waterways throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

A total of 95 students from Chenango Forks High School and Chenango Forks Elementary School planted 1,500 freshwater wetland plants in a swamp on their school’s property. Additionally, the students removed four trash bags of invasive plants to make room for the native species.
Thirty-two students from Ridge Road Elementary School planted 1,500 freshwater wetland plants in a vernal pond at Tanglewood Nature Center. Afterwards, they took a tour of the Nature Center and the beautiful property around it.

ny wetland restoration

The Wetland Nursery Program aims to create a lasting connection between students and the Chesapeake Bay. By raising wetland plants and helping to restore a local wetland, students become invested in the health of the ecosystem and feel a closer connection to their watershed.
The students’ hard work did not go unnoticed; check out the local news channel’s coverage of the planting event.

A special thank you to our partners on this project: Elmira Corning Community Foundation, the Upper Susquehanna Coalition and Tanglewood Nature Center!



Thoughtful Thursdays: Atlantic White Cedar Restoration Continues!

Recently, more than 150 student and community volunteers helped the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) restore a rare freshwater wetland at Nassawango Creek Preserve. In total, volunteers planted 3,000 Atlantic white cedar trees across 6.5 acres.

The barren area at Nassawango Creek Preserve where our restoration efforts are currently being concentrated.

The barren area at Nassawango Creek Preserve where our restoration efforts are currently being concentrated.

Through the Aquarium’s Wetland Nursery Program, students from three local schools have spent the last year caring for and monitoring Atlantic white cedar trees at their school. In the fall, the students re-potted the saplings or helped to propagate new trees.

A few of the saplings planted at Nassawango Creek Preserve.

A few of the saplings planted at Nassawango Creek Preserve.

Throughout the year, they have watered the trees and monitored their growth. Last week’s planting event was the culmination of all their hard work!

Students and volunteers worked together to plant 6,500 trees!

Students and volunteers worked together to plant 6,500 trees!

Nassawango Creek Preserve encompasses more than 10,000 acres and is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. Through controlled burns, regular planting events, and other best management practices, The Nature Conservancy hopes to restore the freshwater wetlands that once dominated the Preserve.

This area is home to 60 species of migratory birds and a number of rare plant species. We’re thrilled to see so many local  join National Aquarium in our commitment to creating a once-again thriving ecosystem at Nassawango!

A special thank you to all of our student and community volunteers! We hope to see you at another one of our conservation events.

Local Students Build and Manage Their Own Wetland Nursery

Through the National Aquarium’s Wetland Nursery Program, students at Hereford High School are raising wetland grasses and native fish in their own schoolyard! Students who participate in Hereford’s environmental club (HOPE) are gaining first-hand experience in project management, plant nursery operations and aquaculture systems. Read about the experience in their own words:

Finally!  Our system is up, running, and has all needed organisms to make it an ecosystem. It was a long process, but luckily we were able to learn along the way. Thanks to the help of Laura Cattell Noll from the National Aquarium, HOPE members, our advisor, and many others…without them this wouldn’t have been possible. This post covers the process it took for us to establish the AquaEcosystem at our school.

Phase One: Planning

The reconstruction process began with an inventory of what we could save from the storm. Key things we were able to recover were: the tank itself, the bioball-filter chamber, and some tubing/connectors.  From there we started calculating how much material we needed to purchase and how much money we would have to request from the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Mini-Grant Program. As soon as we received a check in the mail, the project was a-go!

Phase Two: Construction

Let’s say that for a bunch of girls, this was quite an experience. Transporting, sawing, and bolting plywood was something new! The instructions that came with the project called for a 10‘x10’ base for the bay grasses. In order for the ecosystem to fit our new greenhouse, we had to make a blueprint of a longer 4’ x 16’ frame. When that was done, we had to get some help lifting the frame into the greenhouse (it’s quite heavy!).

construction phase

Phase Three: Transplanting

Now that the bed for the plants was built, we ordered the bay grasses. It took a lot of club effort to transplant 1,200 plugs of Spartina altemiflora into larger plug sheets. Due to after school sports, it was a little rough getting everyone to come and help on one day, but over the course of a week, the job was done.

transplant phase

Phase Four: Adding Fish!

In order to prep for the fish we let the system run for a couple weeks. We faced a lot of problems with our pump. Either the breaker would trip, something would clog the tubing, water would evaporate, air would accumulate in the tubes….something! It was always something, which made it really difficult and frustrating to pinpoint the problem each time. National Aquarium staff helped explain some of the sources of our problems as well as go over basic care tips for the fish, such as what to look out for when they undergo stress, how much food to feed them, and ideal salinity levels.

adding fish

In the spring of 2013, HOPE will plant the bay grasses and release the fish in the Chesapeake Bay. To keep the members active in the project, we have a weekly fish feeding schedule!

If you are interested in helping restore wetlands in your community, check out the National Aquarium’s upcoming Conservation Events!

Saving a special tree

When you think about the conservation efforts of the National Aquarium, the first thing that probably comes to mind is our work with endangered animals, particularly marine mammals and sea turtles. You may not realize that our conservation team also spends a lot of time restoring coastal habitats, and is even saving trees that are in danger of becoming endangered.

There is one particular species of tree that seems to be getting special attention these days, for good reason. The Atlantic white cedar trees are considered rare in Maryland, and conservation efforts are underway to restore this species and the valuable freshwater wetland habitat it creates.

Why are these evergreen trees rare? There are few species of trees that have been used to make everything from barrels, to water pipes, to railroad ties, and even gunpowder; historically, Atlantic white cedars were used for all this and more! Even pirates utilized Atlantic white cedar forests of New Jersey as a hiding place in the 1700s. Needless to say, a tree that produced strong, waterproof lumber was in high demand, and Atlantic white cedars were harvested heavily throughout their natural range along the East Coast, from Maine to Florida. Heavy cutting for these commercial uses has continued during this century.

Our conservation team saw the opportunity to help this cause and educate students along the way by adding Atlantic white cedar plantings to the Wetland Nursery Program. 

Continue reading ‘Saving a special tree’

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