Authored by: Field Ranger Brian Hoeh
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Florence— Siuslaw 7th graders from Andy Marohl’s class came to the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area in April to join the fight against Scotch Broom, one of Oregon’s worst invasive plants.
Armed with gloves, ratchet loppers, and large weed pullers, students freed an open space on the hillside for native plants to re-establish. Students picked up where Siuslaw 4th graders left off in March, and where previous classes have come for the last 5 years.
Project organizer Jim Grano stated, “these kids can see the difference they’ve made, and that’s something they can have pride in every time they come back here.”
The Oregon Dunes are shaped by an intricate balance between life and elemental forces. This process allows diverse ecosystems such as rainforest, lakes, wetlands and open sand to all thrive in one place. Scotch Broom and European Beach Grass were first planted to stabilize shifting sand in the early 20thcentury, and have since become invasive, threatening the long-term survival of the dunes.
The Day Use Area restoration project was organized and led by Siuslaw Stream Team Leader Jim Grano, teacher Andy Marohl, and Siuslaw National Forest fisheries biologist Mike Northrop. It was also supported by SOLV, a non-profit which seeks to build a stronger future for the places Oregonians love.
Grano founded the Siuslaw Stream Team in 1995, and has led in countless projects which link local school groups to ecosystem restoration throughout the Siuslaw Forest and watershed. His programs have an impact both in the environment and in young people’s lives. For Grano, the connection between schools and restoration work is obvious; “education is restoration,” he says.
These programs now link Siuslaw students to an ongoing effort of community partners working to preserve the Oregon Dunes, using innovated solutions to fight the threat of invasive species.
Students took breaks from their grueling work to explore the surrounding dunes on guided hikes led by Siuslaw National Forest field rangers. The goal was to connect students to this unique place, and show how they are now part of the dune’s story.
“It’s neat to think about what the dunes might look like in a thousand years,” said one 7th grader, walking over a buried forest where tree tops protrude through sand. Today, it was up to the students, who may be part of reason this landscape survives.