The Mount Shasta Area Audubon currently has in place a two-year educational program for students throughout Siskiyou County. The “Weeds to Native Plants” program, designed and run by Rebeca Franco, not only educates students about plants and their identification and ecosystems, but also gives students hands-on experience removing noxious weeds, like Dyer’s Woad, and replacing them with native plants.
There are projects taking place all over Siskiyou County, with 12 schools participating. The chapter funded Ms. Franco’s development of the program and her application for grants which were received from the Siskiyou Resource Advisory Committee and the U.S . Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional support and funding have come from several other state and local organizations. The students, teachers, and volunteers are making an outstanding contribution in managing noxious weed infestations in the county.
In the fall, students focus on native plants by collecting seeds from plants such as Douglas spirea, mugwort, godenrod, and yarrow. They then rake the area, spread the seeds, and do the “plant dance”, ensuring that seeds make contact with the soil. Acorns are individually planted in shallow holes, and oak seedlings are beginning to appear after being planted a year ago. Noxious weeds like Scotch broom, dyer’s woad, and sweet pea treated in the spring are pulled again in the fall to a lesser degree.
Dunsmuir Elementary students have treated at least half an acre of Scotch broom on their school grounds. Along with Dunsmuir High students they have been treating weeds in Tauhidauli Park and have almost eliminated Dyer’s woad and Scotch broom. This fall they planted Oregon grape, mugwort, woods rose, rabbit brush and Douglas spirea.Through the Weeds to Native Plants program Sisson Middle School sixth graders have worked many hours in Sisson Meadow to eliminate Dyer’s woad, Scotch broom, and sweet pea, and have planted nine bark, mugwort, and Douglas spirea. Jefferson High School students have been targeting Dyer’s woad and yellow star thistle on Lake Siskiyou’s north shore, and have planted golden rod, black and live oak, woods rose, and mugwort. In the past, McCloud Elementary School students have traveled to Lake Siskiyou, Lake McCloud boat ramp, and the Gateway Trail, where they planted seedlings for the U.S. Forest Service. Braving the cold and wet, they collected native plant seeds like choke cherries and black oak, and treated msuk thistle, Dyer’s woad, and sweetpea from those sites, and Scotch broom on their school grounds. The Lake Siskiyou parking areas on W.A. Barr Road and on South Fork Road have been the focus of Butteville Elementary School students, who have worked to eliminate Dyer’s woad and encourage black oak, woods rose, bitter cherry, and dogbane. Said Dunsmuir Elementary math and science teacher Spencer Adkisson, “It’s important for kids to be involved with service learning. They learn about their immediate environment and human impact, learn about plant adaptations, and plant physiology.” Mt. Shasta Area Audubon is proud to support this program.