Students from Alberni District Secondary School joined volunteers from the Alberni Valley Nature Club and Broombusters to plant an area of Somass Estuary earlier this month.
More than a dozen students from Tim Crosby’s Environmental Science classes at ADSS were invited to the estuary to participate in the planting on Oct. 5. “Despite the rain it worked out great,” said Sandy McRuer from the AV Nature Club, who organized the event.
McRuer teamed up with Ducks Unlimited, which owns the wetland property, to plant an area that had previously been overrun with Scotch broom—an invasive plant. Volunteers with Broombusters cut down the broom in early summer in hopes of eradicating it from the area.
Some of the 100 trees and shrubs planted include Sitka spruce, Douglas fir and cedar trees, as well as black Hawthorne, Pacific crabapple and twin berry. McRuer said these plants already exist in other wetlands around the Alberni Valley, including Somass Estuary.
“We were trying to reproduce the original stands that were here before the settlers,” he said. “There’s a lot of shrub land around estuaries.”
There were some areas in the Somass estuary that were covered in hay where the invasive broom was cut down. McRuer said volunteers wanted to plant shrubs native to the area to discourage the broom from re-establishing. Volunteers Jim Wright and Trevor Blogg discovered a pile of compost that had been in the area for some time, and placed that around the base of the newly planted trees.
Ducks Unlimited paid for the plants, which were purchased from Streamside Native Plants in Bowser.
McRuer said this was a relatively small planting project. “It’s the first time I tried something like this and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I wanted to keep it small to make sure I could manage it,” he said. “If possible, maybe we’ll do it again next year.”
The Alberni Valley Nature Club is open to new members. Club members hold different hikes and interpretive walks throughout the year. Find them on Facebook by searching Alberni Valley Nature Club (public).