600 Pairs of Helping Hands Work to Restore the River’s Wetlands

By Maddie Koenig, AWS Environmental Educator

This spring the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) had the pleasure of working with more than 600 students from 13 different schools across the watershed!    

As participants in AWS’s Rice Rangers program, these students carefully planted wetland seeds in their classrooms and tended to the plants as they grew.  Once the plants established themselves, these students transplanted the “babies” from their small growing containers into the mud in Kingman Marsh, adjacent to Heritage Island.

wild rice and arrow arum
Arrow arum (Peltandra virginica) and wild rice (Zizania aquatica), grown by students and ready to be planted in the marsh!

Historically the Anacostia River had approximately 2,500 acres of tidal freshwater wetlands, but over the last century more than 95% have been destroyed.  With the help of students participating in the Rice Rangers program, the Anacostia Watershed Society is working to restore the river’s wetlands.

The restoration of the river’s wetlands is a crucial part of the Anacostia Watershed Society’s goal of a fishable and swimmable river by 2025.  We now know that wetlands provide a number of benefits to the river, including:

  • Protecting and improving water quality
  • Providing a habitat for wildlife
  • Slowing and storing floodwater

We need wetlands for a clean, healthy Anacostia River!  Many thanks to the hardworking students who helped restore portions of Kingman Marsh this spring, the volunteers who assisted us, and the funders for the 2017 school year: CSX, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

rice rangers with plants
These students from E.L. Haynes Public Charter School carry their wild rice to Heritage Island in preparation for planting!

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