Antioch Earth Team headed back out to the Upper Sand Creek Basin to learn a new skill: plant monitoring. On this particular Tuesday, the team focused on identifying, counting, and monitoring Coast Live Oaks that were planted in the basin by volunteers years ago.
Baseline data was compiled from existing documents showing general locations of volunteer planting sites and Coast Live Oak estimated numbers. Interns used a satellite image of the basin to create a map and then developed walking routes of those location to focus their time on.
Split into three groups, the Antioch High students were able to cover almost all of the basin in their 2 hour after school meeting. The young researchers found that many of the oaks were not present or were mislabeled. Of the oaks that they found, some were incredibly while established, others were healthy, and some appeared to be in poor health.
Interns will continue to monitor and map Coast Live Oaks in the basin to master the process of native plant monitoring. Hopefully, their efforts will expand to other native species present in the basin, including things like coyote brush.
The Antioch Earth Team after school meeting concluded with a beautiful sunset over Mt. Diablo to wrap up a fun afternoon of exploring nature!
Antioch High Earth Team suited up in ponchos to do restoration and water testing in the rain. The group of environmental leaders from Antioch High School is focusing their effort this semester on restoration in the Upper Sand Creek Basin. They spent this particular Saturday testing water at various locations along Sand Creek.
The water in this basin flows in from Sand Creek as well as from South Antioch storm drains. The youths hypothesized that the storm water and urban runoff flowing into the basin would have very different water chemistry than the stream flowing out of the basin.
The students lead the day’s research project on water chemistry throughout the basin, finding surprisingly promising readings for metrics like pH and temperature.
Interns plan to return to the basin many more times throughout the semester to repeat their water testing procedures and to collect enough data to hopefully draw some conclusions about the function of the basin at purifying water beyond protecting residents from flooding in extreme rain events.
Starting on Saturday, November 4th, Antioch interns will begin participating in adaptive management efforts at the Upper Sand Creek Basin in Antioch. The flood basin is managed by the Flood Control District, and provides wetland habitat to a wide variety of species. The volunteer-planted willows and native plans provide natural water filtration, improving the quality of urban runoff as it flows from South Antioch storm drains into Marsh Creek. It also offers protection to surrounding communities in the event of heavy rains, acting as a flood basin to slow water flow through Sand Creek and Marsh Creek.
In the coming months, Antioch Interns will work on a variety of projects in the basin. One project will focus on water quality in the basin. Interns will test “urban drool” as it runs off from nearby communities into the basin. They will also test water originating from the natural creek that feeds the basin. Finally, interns will test the water as it exits the basin into Marsh Creek. This investigation will hopefully show to what extent urban runoff is contaminated and how effectively the basin improves water quality.
Another project that the interns will work on will be native plant maintenance and mapping. Many native plants thrived naturally in the basin, and others were planted by volunteers. However, other vegetation has overtaken many of these plants, so Antioch interns will work on freeing them and documenting their establishment and success throughout the basin.
Antioch High interns joined peers from Oakland Tech and San Lorenzo High at the 2017 Brower Youth Awards. Antioch students had the chance to bond with their new campus coordinator, Joelle Alley, on the lengthy BART ride from Pittsburg/ Bay Point to Civic Center. Luckily, the group arrived just in time to witness a beautiful sunset over San Francisco City Hall as they walked to Herbst Theater for the reception and awards ceremony.
At the reception, interns meandered around a beautiful hall where local environmental organizations were tabling and offering merchandise, interactive activities, and raffles.
Finally, the students were ushered into the theater for the awards ceremony, which opened with a performance from an all-female local dance crew (probably everyone’s favorite part of the day… they were awesome)!
Seven inspiring youth environmental leaders were honored at the awards. One award winner has worked to organize against oil pipelines, and multiple honorees are attending COP 23 in Bonn, Germany this month. Interns walked away from the awards feeling energized, empowered, and ready to make a difference in their community!
There are many different techniques and methods for conducting habitat restoration; some practical for our interns to perform while others a bit more difficult. Today Earth Team Interns learned and practiced techniques for invasive removal that they will implement when in the field at Marsh Creek, DOW Wetlands and Antioch Dunes.
Interns were first given a presentation on some of those more difficult methods of removal. These methods include prescribed burns to clear large areas of invasive plants and herbicide applications on species that are particularly persistent and grow back year after year.
Finally, students were introduced to hand weeding techniques to remove invasives. These techniques focus on clearing the entire root and minimizes seed dispersal by using controlled movements and improvised seed capture devices.
Today Antioch High Interns learned the importance of Native species and the impacts that Invasive species have on the environment. Students took a walk through on campus to I.D certain species and make predictions on their native status.
Interns then broke into small groups to lead their own investigations, documenting the abundance of invasive vs native species! Results were surprising with more than half the campus containing invasive species.
“We were all pretty interested to learn that Palm Trees are not native to California and that a lot of grass is considered invasive, too!” – Natalia Johnson
In the end, interns gained valuable knowledge and skills to put to work conducting species surveys in the field at Marsh Creek, DOW Wetlands and Antioch Dunes!
Earth Team is back at Antioch High School for another year of restoration and monitoring work! Phillip Drobnicki the new campus coordinator for Antioch High presented to over 10 classes reaching over 100+ students for these years program. After receiving over 30 applications we narrowed it down to 14 amazing interns!
Our team spent our first meeting getting to know one another, learning about the program logistics, gaining an understanding of our restoration sites, and created bios which will be posted on our website!
We look forward to another great year working at Antioch Dunes, DOW Wetlands and Marsh Creek. Together we will make a difference in your community!
On August 7, 2017, Marco and Jeremiah, Antioch 2016-2017 Interns, presented their years work to the DOW Community Advisory Panel (CAP). Interns specifically highlighted how the grant funds were used for the project and their experiences working out on the Wetlands participating and leading restoration activities.
The Community Advisory Board was very responsive and were extremely grateful to see how hard our Antioch students have been working throughout the year. Earth Team is looking forward to another year working out on the land!
The Antioch dunes were a naturally occurring native habitat home to great unique native species the dunes were bought by DOW and were used to make plants and factories the dunes were not finally let go of for over 20 years. By then the damage had already been done irreparable damage to the ecosystem and native species. DOW had come to realize its mistake and started a restoration act in order to to save the small amount of species they could.
We decided we wanted to help with the restoration process and management. So as a team we arrived at the lush green and yellow paradise known as the Antioch dunes. We learned about the species native to the Antioch dunes and how they contribute to their ecosystem. As we were there we learned how to remove invasive species and help to restore the dunes.
On the trip there were many interesting experiences says one of our peers. They learned so much on how to identify native species and how to remove invasive ones. They got to plant some Antioch native flowers and see native butterflies. Overall we all believe it was a great experience and one we can indulge on again.