Utah State University students traveled to southwestern Wyoming earlier this month [October 2014] in an effort to restore land along a river in Eden Valley. Twenty-one in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning (LAEP) partnered with JUB Engineers to spend a day on the banks of the Big Sandy River planting willow cuttings with the goal of restoring habitat damaged by cattle grazing and a recent irrigation project.
David Evans, associate professor in LAEP said the trip provided students with significant hands-on experience in the field.
“This was an important opportunity for landscape architecture and environmental planning students to learn about habitat restoration,” Evans said. “We address habitat restoration in many of our planning and design studio projects, but rarely get an opportunity to learn first-hand how the work is actually done.”
LAEP student and vice president of USU’s student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects Scott Harris said projects like the one in Eden Valley are important for students who are beginning their careers.
“It is very important for students to get involved in these activities, not only for the exposure to the type of work that they might be doing once they graduate, but also for the exposure to professionals,” Harris said. “I think one of the most surprising things that was gained from this experience was the inter-class cooperation and friendships that were formed.”
Students took 450 cuttings of coyote willow to the restoration site, which Harris described as being devoid of vegetation. Coyote willow is native to the western United States and found almost exclusively in riparian areas along rivers and stream and marshy areas, according to Range Plants of Utah, published by USU Extension. Because it reproduces by spreading roots as well as seed, coyote willow helps stabilize stream banks and prevent erosion.
“We had students pounding in lengths of rebar, and then pulling them out and placing a willow cutting in them,” Harris said. “At the same time, students were pounding in T-posts and attaching fence panels to them.”
Harris said the trip was successful and the students enjoyed their time in the field.
“At the end of the project we asked them if they would like to do something similar in the future,” Harris said. “Every single student said they would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Contact: David Evans, 435-797-0508, David.Evans@usu.edu
Writers: Elaine Taylor and Lynnette Harris, Lynnette.Harris@usu.edu