Habitat Restoration in The Grove
Sprawling oak trees, new benches and the sights and sounds of an outdoor classroom can offer a refreshing change of pace for students, but this is just an aspect of the multi-dimensional ecosystem we call, The Grove.
It wasn’t long ago that the 14,000 square ft. (or 1/3 acre) piece of choice real estate on the outskirt of the school campus was unusable, overgrown with ivy and blackberry bushes. Garden Coordinator, Misty Fiddler, spotted the plot years ago and with the help of key administrators and Oak Grove teacher Vicky Hill a grant from the Department of Fish and Wildlife secured the funds necessary to start a habitat restoration project.
In 2014, almost every student attending Oak Grove planted a California native plant in The Grove and began learning about the unique habitat. The massive project was inspired by visits to the neighboring Hallberg’s Butterfly Garden, where key players became eager to create a “corridor,” for beneficial insects making their way to the historic gardens tended by Oak Grove alumni, Louise Hallberg.
This year’s projects in The Grove have involved a little less labor and more observation of the space and its flora and fauna. Many students from various grade levels have been journaling about their assigned plants, but did get physical creating a swale. Designed to manage erosion, the swale will double as a natural filtration system for rainwater runoff heading to the nearby Atascadero Creek.
Future projects for The Grove include constructing a bridge over the swale, and labeling the plants with their botanical names, and information about how the plant is beneficial to the environment.