Reclamation students enhance Rountree Branch Trail

August 4, 2014

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Reclamation students

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — In the years to come, the city of Platteville’s Rountree Branch Trail will benefit from work begun by University of Wisconsin-Platteville students this summer.

Dr. Yari Johnson, assistant professor and director of reclamation, environment and conservation in the School of Agriculture, and his students, partnered with the Platteville Community Arboretum to plant native vegetation near the trail behind Menard’s. The project was made possible through a grant from the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement at UW-Platteville.

“We received funding to buy soil and all the tools that we need to grow the plants and then to come out here and plant them,” said Johnson. “I worked with the students to select plants that are from Grant County, that are native from Grant County and that would do really well growing here. We looked at the landscape and what plants would be the best fit and we came up with a plan.”

Johnson’s revegetation class, which included 25 students, worked on the project during the spring. “We’re trying to teach students about native plants and how to use native plants in the landscape,” said Johnson.

“Having the hands-on experience was awesome,” said Amy Delyea-Petska, a senior reclamation major from Eau Claire, Wis. “We actually learned how to plant them and where they should be planted. There was a lot of research that went into it. Our student groups did a lot of research and planning before we actually planted.”

“We’re hoping that we can continue to do this every year,” said Johnson. “It provides opportunities for students to get their hands dirty literally and learn about the successes and failures.”

The group planted small plots of 5,000-6,000 plants, including 13 native species, which will be transplanted around the trail in the coming years. “It seems like a large number, but when you stretch across this trail system, the trail system is two-three miles long, that’s really not that many,” said Johnson. “What we’re hoping is that this is going to be an ongoing project where the plants are going to need maintenance in the future. Students can come along at the right time in the fall and collect seeds and we can bring them back to the greenhouse on campus and grow more and start expanding it.”

“This is the beginning of a long-term cooperation between the Platteville Community Arboretum and the School of Agriculture and the reclamation program,” added Johnson.

Contact: Dr. Yari Johnson, assistant professor, School of Agriculture, (608) 342-7332, johnsony@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Dan Wackershauser, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, wackersd@uwplatt.edu

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