Rake poles towered over a parade of third graders as they marched up a path to Sinks Canyon. Oh yes, the Gannett Peak Third Grade Stewards were at it again. This time, they returned to reseed the South-Facing slope of Fairfield Hill that was hit by last July’s forest fire. Lead by our trusty Park Rangers Darrel and Jamie, they headed up the path with rakes, seeds, and seed dispersers in hand.
A lightning strike caused this past summer's forest fire. The fire stretched over 1,500 acres across Sinks Canyon and into the Shoshone National Forest. It was contained in a matter of days by proactive firemen, and roads were open to the public shortly after.
The arrival of spring means that it is time to reseed this area. Sagebrush, bitterbrush, wildflowers such as gaillardia, and other indigenous plant species are on the list to be reintroduced to the area. If this area is not reseeded in an effective and timely way, the south-facing slope will suffer from environmental impacts such as loss of biodiversity and habitats. This section is also a trail to popular sections of climbing walls. Without vegetation to help hold the mountainside together, serious erosion could occur. This could cause irreversible structural damage to the land, and also cause an increase of organic matter to run into the river down below, compromising the health of an important water source.
So there we were, on the slope of Fairfield Hill raking and seeding and raking and stomping the ground. What was really impressive was the creative way the kids completed this task. Through trial and error and teamwork, the kids figured out a way to reseed that was both efficient and fun! One person would lead the train and disperse seeds across the raked ground, and the rest of the group would follow behind and re-rake the area to help cover up the freshly strewn seeds. It was powerful to see such harmony and capability come from this group of caring 9 and 10 year olds.
During our journey back down to go eat some well-deserved lunch, we turned around and looked at what we accomplished. The kids were proud, and knew that what they did will help bring beauty and life back to the forest. All in a day’s work to help keep one of our favorite outdoor classrooms healthy and strong!