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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Dr Martin Luther King Jr Park, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

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Dr Martin Luther King Jr Park, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
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Registered: December 2021
City/Town/Province: Santa Fe
Posts: 1
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The scorching New Mexico sun beats down on the parched plants as they struggle to survive in the harsh conditions. For all my life I have seen the importance of native plants that survive the local climate. I have learned to name the resilient native plants that have evolved to survive the extremes of my home state.
As I see and hear fewer and fewer insects flying around, with their understanding of the weather, I wondered what part I could play to help increase their numbers. For about three years, I have raised honey bees and have developed an interest in native bees. The intrigue of the different species and how they interacted with their environment guided me to support and encourage the four winged creatures.
For my Girl Scout Gold Award I strived to pursue a project that would support the community and increase plant and pollinator biodiversity in the neighborhood. I found a park to apply those aspects by planting native species and building a native beehive hotel.
The Dr Martin Luther King Jr Park was bare and little used without shade for people or animals. With the help of a local arborist and horticulturist, I figured out how to improve the park. Based on their recommendation, I drew up a plan on the computer showing the location of plants and trees. I presented this plan, organizing a public meeting with the neighbors living around the park to solicit their feedback. I contacted the Xerces Society which helps pollinators and native plants all around the country by creating a trail of pollinator plants. On behalf of the park, I applied for a grant and received a total of one hundred native plants to incorporate into my plan. All of the shrubs and perennials are native to New Mexico and support pollinators either by feeding them or providing habitats. One of the horticulturalists I worked with also donated two tall bur oak trees and three beautiful pines from the city to plant in the MLK park. During the process I also asked Plants of the Southwest, a local native plant nursery, for donations. They showed their support of the project by giving native ornamental grasses and privets to increase the biodiversity.
The biggest obstacle for plants to get established and thrive in the park is a dysfunctional irrigation system. Some neighbors planted trees about ten years ago in the park, but most of them died due to a lack of water and intense drought in New Mexico. Part of my project was asking for a working irrigation system in the MLK park from TreeSmart, a new program that is interested in planting 1,000 trees in New Mexico. They installed a new irrigation system to create room for new trees to live.
On the day of the planting, I invited all of the neighbors around the park, my family and friends, the Mayor of Santa Fe, and two City Councilors to help plant. There were also people from the Xerces Society and the Santa Fe River Conservation to show how to properly plant trees, shrubs, and perennials for the best survival rate. It was truly a community effort. There were also people there installing the new irrigation system for the newly planted trees and shrubs. I was so excited to see that my project was improving both the environment for people that lived near the park, and all of the native insects and animals that would make the MLK park their new home. After the plants were in the ground, I periodically checked on the trees and shrubs to see how they were adapting to their new location.
The last thing I did to improve the park and the habitat for pollinators was build a native beehive hotel. I rolled up newspaper, collected pine cones, and drilled holes in wood pieces to create places for native New Mexico bees to hibernate during the long, cold winter. To install the hive, I went out to the park with my mom and grandmother to set up the beehive hotel. In the end, creating a functioning ecosystem with beneficial plants and animals that would develop, grow, and help the neighborhood park was the purpose of the project. In the future, I hope to do more projects like this to help my community and create a thriving environment for pollinator plants and insects.
Date: December 31, 2021 Views: 4780 File size: 14.1kb, 1265.2kb : 2016 x 1512
Hours Volunteered: 219
Volunteers: 52
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 3 to 83
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 6.55
Native Trees Planted: 10 and 106 shrubs
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