PUBLISHED: 4:52 PM on Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Enhancing community
Groups come together for wetland restoration project

  Team members involved in the Nancy Street Wetland Enhancement Project work to replant vegetation.
Rebuilding wetlands is more than rooting plants and changing the landscape. The Nancy Street Wetland Enhancement Project also is about giving to the community.

Samia Savell, a watershed planner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, said the project was planned in a study performed in 2000.

When clearing work was conducted for the new high school building in Mendenhall Valley, the city offered fill for the project rather than it being disposed.

"We already had the groundwork for habitat enhancement projects on Duck Creek," Savell said.

"The project was there included in a list, and we waited for the opportunity for enough fill and cooperation. Everything just fell into place."

Savell said that the site, the first right off Mendenhall Loop Road, will feature a bridge and trail built from state grants secured by the City and Bureau of Juneau.

"It's really not just a wetland project, but a community project," Savell said.

"A lot of effort went into coordinating this for a nice place for people to go. It will enhance fish and wildlife habitat and provide the community with an open space to enjoy."

A group of eight AmeriCorps volunteers working for Southeast Alaska Guidance Association have spent the past four weeks moving wetland species to plant at the Nancy Street site.

Jordan Doak, co-team leader, said the area should grow into full wetlands in three to five years.

Doak, a 24-year-old from Oklahoma, said he has enjoyed working in Alaska and seeing the project come to fruitation.

"It's faith that brought us here," Doak said.

"We've had a lot of fun working out here. There were times it was sunny and the plants were drying. It was nice for us, but bad for the wetlands. We had to water the plants when nature should have been doing that for us."

T Morse, a 20-year-old crew member from Colorado, said that while he's done landscaping on a small scale the wetland project is a new experience.

"It's a very rewarding thing to come to an arid place and see where it's going to go," Morse said. "I'm very humbled by this place."

He said the project and his time with AmeriCorps has taught him many things.

"I think the biggest thing I've learned with the work we did is the magic of improvisation. There were times we didn't have the right tools for everything and to see what worked better," Morse said. "I can say with confidence it's given me an invaluable thing."