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Refuge Develops Schoolyard Habitats
Southwest Region, March 20, 2009
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Refuge Volunteers Judy Bailey and Sue Kurts. Photo by Clif Todd
Refuge Volunteers Judy Bailey and Sue Kurts. Photo by Clif Todd - Photo Credit: n/a
Refuge Volunteers Judy Bailey, Steve Oppenheim and Dae Todd.  Photo by Clif Todd
Refuge Volunteers Judy Bailey, Steve Oppenheim and Dae Todd. Photo by Clif Todd - Photo Credit: n/a

Buenos Aires NWR is volunteering assistance to two local schools in development of wildlife-friendly schoolyard habitats.  From December through February, 11 volunteers donated several group project days to San Fernando Elementary School in Sasabe, Arizona.  Located on the U.S./Mexico border, this little school contacted the refuge for help in designing and developing an interpretive nature trail in a denuded construction area, along  with water features and explanatory signs.  With the help of a backhoe operated by refuge Maintenance Chief Jeff Enlow, the volunteers prepared ground, constructed a water catchment structure to channel roof runoff, dug trenches to channel runoff water near the nature trail, and developed a trail with observation points.  This project will continue in future years, including refuge assistance and construction of water areas and ephemeral pools, and planting of native grasses.  Seed will be supplied by the refuge, and the grass “plugs” will be grown and planted by the students.

Last year refuge staff provided an educational program to PPEP Technical School in Three Points, Arizona.  As follow-up, the school is asking guidance in developing a wildlife-friendly schoolyard for this technical high school.  ORP Bonnie Swarbrick and volunteers Judy Bailey and Steve Oppenheim visited the school and advised officials on constructing a student physical exercise route that incorporates stations for various physical activities, creating a vegetable garden, a butterfly garden, wildlife watering site, and development of the remainder of the 15 acres as wildlife habitat.  Under discussion are provision of mesquite seedlings and scrap lumber by the refuge, also advice on plant species and sources for planting, bird nest boxes, and wire cones to encourage bird nesting.   Students are encouraged to participate through survey and mapping, installing irrigation, planting trees, shrubs, and ground cover, and designing the exercise trail.

Both projects encourage students to make a difference in their environment, to have a positive impact on wildlife, and to use their environment as an outdoor classroom.


Contact Info: Bonnie Swarbrick, (520) 823-4251 x 108, bonnie_swarbrick@fws.gov



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