Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, Friends of Lory State Park, and other partners cultivate restoration project utilizing local student support and native plant species
BELLVUE, CO (June 16, 2020) – Wildland Restoration Volunteers’ (WRV) new youth program, “Seeds of Stewardship”, culminated on May 30, 2020, at Lory State Park’s new Mariposa Pavilion with two 10-person, physically-distanced volunteer events that resulted in nearly 400 newly installed native plants.
This initiative was a community-wide effort led by WRV, with many other program and funding partners supporting the project, including the Friends of Lory State Park (FoLSP), Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, Larimer County Small Grants program, the Colorado Native Plant Society, and the Poudre School District. FoLSP and WRV have partnered on seed collection and restoration projects over several years, but the organizations faced some unique challenges this year.
“Friends of Lory is grateful for the opportunity to partner with WRV and all the agencies that made this project a huge success,” said Patricia Haley-Miller, Board President for FoLSP. “Lory State Park has been a hidden gem for many years, but in today’s COVID-19 reality, visitation has soared to unmatched levels. Now more than ever, people are seeking places to renew their spirit, and Lory is providing that refuge. The Friends group with CPW encourages stewardship of wildlands and recreating responsibly so that all may enjoy the beauty of nature we have here for many years to come.”
WRV developed, funded, and piloted the new “Seeds of Stewardship” youth program during the 2019-2020 school year. Annemarie Fussell, WRV’s Community Relations Coordinator, explained, “This program aimed to engage local high school youth, primarily from underserved communities, to explore a restoration project that would connect students to their local public lands, while also fostering personal connections and opening career opportunities to them in the future.”
Students from Poudre Community Academy (PCA), Compass Collaborative Community School (CCCS), and Poudre High School (PHS) collected Native Seeds in September 2019 in Lory State Park. Throughout the winter, students worked with staff at WRV and educators from the CSU Environmental Learning Center in their classrooms to learn the techniques of propagating and growing native plants from locally adapted species.
Fussell noted, “By using plants that are adapted to our unique Front Range ecoregion, we can promote diversity and resilience in ecosystems that we restore so that they are more able to survive and thrive with the increasing challenges of a changing climate, in addition to increased pressure from recreation, development, and other human activities.”
Students planned to restore an area of Lory State Park in late April that was disturbed during the construction of the newly expanded Mariposa Pavilion site at Soldier Canyon. Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic and postponement of all in-person student activities for the Poudre School District, students were unable to complete the last planting day in April. Additionally, the June 6th grand opening of the pavilion with the FoLSP had to be delayed.
Thankfully, WRV and the FoLSP were able to organize a small, social-distanced volunteer event on May 30 to complete the program while incorporating COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The plant species for this project were chosen for their vigorous growth; adaptation to sunny, dry areas; and their qualities as beneficial plants for local pollinators and other wildlife. The 396 newly installed plants included Bee Balm, Prairie Coneflower, Tall Buckwheat, Showy Milkweed, Meadow Sedge, Chokecherry, and American Plum.
“It is both gratifying and a privilege for the Friends of Lory to team up with the Wildlands Restoration Volunteers to assist with the pollinator restoration project,” said event volunteer and FoLSP board member, Rick Bunch. “To see a project through from seed collecting on site, engage in the propagation process, and watch them develop into plants helps establish an affinity for living things. It was a glorious day at a beautiful setting—the Mariposa Pavilion—with a chance to enjoy being back in the fresh air and sunshine in the face of the pandemic crisis.”
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