The Potomac Highlands Watershed School 

PHWS Projects 2011 - Musselman HS, WV


Ben Alexandro has been working with the W.E.T. Club and teacher Deb Stevens at Musselman High School to study wetland function, and to plan and implement a biodiversity enhancement of the existing campus wetland. 

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Frank Rodgers and Ben Alexandro of the Cacapon Institute educated students on the problems facing the watershed and their local water including sedimentation and excess nutrients. The students then discovered how they could help by finding hotspots around the school.

       The students decided that they wanted to restore and improve the existing wetland next to the school.  The wetland was being encroached by bare dirt and regularly mowed turf in the surrounding area.  Having low aesthetic value, the wet club wanted to make the wetland look like something worth treasuring for years to come. 

The wetland area itself is already marginally functional in filtering out pollutants

Notice how the water entering the wetland area is often polluted and murky.

By the time the water leaves, the wetland has filtered and cleaned the water substantially.

The students assessed the area by measuring the water levels and scoring the wetland for wildlife habitat to see how the area could be improved.

With the help of Ben Alexandro of the Cacapon Institute, the students learned how to identify the existing flora and fauna in the wetland.  Here Ben is describing the difference between rush, sedge, and grasses.

Students studied the soil to determine which plants could best grow there.

Students discovered that the soils in the area were clay loam and silt clay loam.

Armed with the knowledge of what would improve the wetland, the kids made a list of locally native plants they researched that they want to see in the wetland. 

The students then created a map of where the plants would be placed to see how the new wetland would look while in bloom.  After conferring with experts such as Sarah Wuertenberg (WVCA) and Kieran O’Malley (WVDNR), the W.E.T. Club was ready to order plants.

Above is the final map that CI staff and students from the W.E.T. Club will use when they plant the wetland on April 11, 2011.
One week before the planting the WET club, aided by WVDOF's Herb Peddicord and CI's Ben Alexandro, flagged all the locations where plants where will be planted the following week. As flags were put in the ground, Nathan marked off the locations on the planting map.
Deb Stevens, Passionate Teacher in charge of the WET Club. Success!! 375 flags put in place ready for the 375 plants to be put there next week.

Planting the wetland on April 11, 2011.

That's a lot of plants.  Frank arrives early with the plants.
General Ben arrives. Getting started.
Josh (Potomac Valley Audubon), Cap'n Lou (Opequon Project Team), and Deb Stevens (teacher) make plans.  Ben hands out assignments to group leaders.
A style statement - pink and red boots.  Distributing plants: 375 plants in 35 species.
Busy. Busy.
Busy. Busy.
Not afraid of a little mud.  Busy
Building cages. Caged trees. 
At the end of a long day, four teams of W.E.T. Club students had planted more than 375 plants, erected cages to protect the trees and shrubs from abundant deer (see photo at right), hauled stone to make a path, and feasted on pizza. 

It was a good, productive day.   And that night a rain began that lasted two days - giving the plants an excellent start. 

This project was developed by Musselman High School's W.E.T. Club working with Cacapon Institute over a four month period.  Funding for this project came primarily from a NOAA-Bay Watershed Education and Training grant to Cacapon Institute.   

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