Roots and Shoots, the youth education non-profit founded by Jane Goodall, held a training retreat recently in the Seattle area. Young students gathered to learn about restoration of the Cedar River, which is one of the largest rivers in the urban area. It provides about 100 million gallons of water a day to 1.4 million residents, and feeds Lake Washington, the largest freshwater lake near Seattle. The river is also habitat for a declining population of chinook and sockeye salmon and other wildlife.
Another non-profit, Friends of the Cedar River, joined in the retreat to teach youth about their efforts to restore and protect the watershed. For example, they have a program for volunteers to observe salmon in the river and learn where and how they migrate for breeding.
One student, who traveled from California for the retreat said, “I loved that it [the service project] was so hands on and that I really understood what we were doing and why.” (Source: Roots)
Teaching youth to appreciate and understand Nature in wild places is increasingly important as that age group is spending more time with technology and less time outdoors. According to a recent study by the Nature Conservancy, only about ten percent of youth say they are spending time outdoors, yet the majority interact technology daily.
The upper Cedar River watershed is about 90,000 acres of protected forest. Water collected naturally in the forest moves through habitat into streams and the river. It is naturally filtered along the way, to the extent it doesn’t require extensive filtering before human consumption.
Nearly 30,000 acres of forest there were cut down between 1900 and 1924. Logging camps and sawmills there in the same time frame were said to have very poor sanitary conditions, and forest fires were somewhat common due to carelessness. By 2000, less than 17% of the original old growth forest remained. Tree planting, removal of residences, tax incentives for forest retention are just a few of the activities that are taking place to restore and enhance the watershed.
Students learned they need to carefully collect scientific data, and use sound science to inform public policy. In the future, it is very likely some of these students will be effective conservationists, communicators, and community members.
Image Credit: EmeraldAnglers.com
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