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Picerne Family Foundation - Global Sustainability Project

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Local Sustainability Projects - Carlsbad High School

A cornerstone of the GSP is the requirement that students provide 40 hours of direct service to a nature conservancy or nonprofit ecology organization in their community. The Foundation strongly believes that students should develop an ethic of responsibility for their environment, both locally and globally. The Foundation requires this hands-on service to allow the students to “pay forward” the opportunity they have been afforded in participating in the Earthwatch expedition.

Global Sustainability Project participants from Carlsbad High will be designing and implementing a project to control erosion of bluffs bordering the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad California. The area of focus will be a section of bluffs with heavy human foot traffic. People crisscross the bluff as they walk down to get to the the water’s edge. The foot traffic causes damage to native vegetation. The foot traffic and damage to plants, leads to the erosion of soil on the bluff. Students will be working in conjunction with scientists and employees of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon foundation. Together, they will execute the project in several phases.

Phase I - Observations, Research, Experimentation
In this initial phase of the project, students will familiarize themselves with the challenges of the location of the project. They will observe exactly where people walk down to the lagoon. Students will interview the people who they find walking down the bluffs. They will talk to them about their willingness to take an alternative path down to the water in the future if there was a marked trail available to them only a short distance away. Measurements will be taken of slope size, steepness, and soil composition. Students will create a detailed map of the study site, highlighting areas of erosion and current plant coverage. They will perform on-site experiments to learn how water drains through the bluffs. Students will examine similar bluffs in various locations around the lagoon, noting plant type and percent plant cover. Research of physical soil erosion control devices will be part of this phase as well.

Phase II - Developing a Plan
There are two main goals of the project. The first goal is to stabilize the face of the bluff to prevent further erosion. The team of students and scientists will plan what native plants will be appropriate to plant, and the most strategic locations to plant them. Placement of physical soil erosion devices might be needed as well. The second goal is to get people to use only one designated trail down to the lagoon at the study location, instead of crisscrossing down the face of the bluff. Students will work with the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation to design signage and possible fencing or borders to encourage people to use the designated path.

Phase III - Implementing the Plan
With the plan in place, students will plant native plants and install soil erosion devices. Simultaneously, signs, fences, borders and the like will be installed to encourage use of a designated path while deterring walking down the newly repaired and replanted bluff.

Phase IV - Monitoring and Maintenance
Students will continue to monitor the project site. They will determine the success of keeping foot traffic off of the newly repaired bluff. Adjustments will be made as necessary. New plants will be watered until established. Observations will be made during and directly after rainstorms to measure water flow and soil erosion within the project site. Student will consult with scientists to see if additional erosion control measures are needed.