Cedarcrest High School Environmental Club Builds Our Buffers

Seven members of the Cedarcrest High School Environmental Service Corps started off the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend with a tree-planting party at Oxbow. Despite the ominous grey clouds hovering overhead, the group gathered their lunches and gloves and set off across the farm fields to the edge of the Snoqualmie River. Their task for the day was to plant Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), western red cedar (Thuja plicata), and black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) to provide a buffer between Oxbow’s farm fields and the river. After the trees were all in the ground, the young environmentalists went the extra mile to protect their trees by cutting back and digging up any blackberries with the audacity to try to grow nearby. They even went so far as to rescue the adjacent trees from the grasps of the blackberry canes, giving new life to some of our older resident trees.

The buffer they built helps to keep the nutrient-rich soil from our farm fields from running directly into the river, where excess nutrients can cause myriad problems for salmon and the rest of the river ecosystem. The large trees and shrubs that go into a buffer provide an extensive root system that filters nutrients out of the soil and physically keeps the soil from running off the land into the river during heavy rains and floods. The buffer will also provide a barrier between the blackberry thicket, which still has a hold on the steep banks of the river, and the rest of the native habitat buffer. The little trees will go a long way to build a healthy habitat in the river, not only by keeping sediment out, but by providing shade to keep the water cool, woody debris to slow the water down and build complexity, and food to feed the insects, amphibians, fish, and birds that call the river home.

The Cedarcrest Environmental Service Corps, in addition to restoring habitat at Oxbow, has helped to build their school recycling program and is currently promoting awareness of the problems that plastics pose in the environment. We’re excited to see what this motivated group of students will accomplish in the future, and we’re grateful that they were able to take time out of their busy schedules to lend a helping hand to Oxbow’s ecosystem. 

Learn more about Oxbow’s conservation efforts and restoration volunteering here! We welcome individual volunteers, corporate groups, and student groups. Contact volunteer@oxbow.org with questions, or to get your group signed up for an upcoming volunteer event!

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[Top banner image, showing Oxbow’s farm fields and adjacent riparian buffers, courtesy of Indigo Slate; all other photos by Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center]