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Uploaded 02/11/2012

Rain Garden at Santa Clarita Elementary School

Story by Carol Rock

More than 100 stewards of Mother Earth — most of them young students, with a few parents in tow — rolled up their sleeves Saturday morning and planted a Rain Garden at Santa Clarita Elementary School on Seco Canyon Road in Saugus.

“They worked from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in a great spirit of work, fun, friendship and purpose,” said project coordinator Kathi Lund.

Students at the school, where Lund has worked in the library for several years, have always been interested in the environment and our impact on the planet. This project is an extension of their study of their surroundings and becoming aware of what they can do work with, instead of against nature.

Lund said part of the pre-planting work involved taking soil samples, testing campus runoff water, measuring the proposed garden area, calculating the soil drainage rate and learning about rain water’s path from the sky to the ocean, via their campus.

“In the short term, this is a environmentally friendly way to deal with our runoff issues at school,” she explained. “In the long term, we hope to greatly reduce our campus’ contribution of polluted water to the watershed. The rain garden should capture the runoff, the native plants will trap pollutants, help the water infiltrate the aquifer as well as going back into the natural water cycle through evotranspiration (the process where clouds produced by water evaporation from plants reflect the sun’s rays and cool the atmosphere) from the trees and plants.”

She added that the students had a dramatic demonstration of how quickly the Dry Canyon aqueduct becomes a churning river of dirt and trash when they witnessed a short-lived flash flood (it wasn’t even raining at their school).

To finance their new garden, the students had an adopt-a-plant fundraiser to buy the native plants, which included yarrow, coral bells, bush monkey flower, Catalina currant, Yankee Point, Lilac Verbena, CA Sunflower bush, creeping barberry, hummingbird sage and scarlet columbine.

All were planted safely before the cloudburst Saturday afternoon.

Tomorrow, students will be attending the Santa Clarita City Council meeting to thank various city staff members who gave presentations that informed the project.

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