Lewistown junior high students are examining local geology and invasive plant species through a new outdoor education partnership with the Bureau of Land Management.
Since 2000, students have been monitoring overall water quality of Big Spring Creek at the Brewery Flats site, observing changes before and after the creek was realigned to its current meandering state.
This year the BLM's Lewistown Field Office expanded the curriculum by encouraging students to look beyond the stream channel and consider other factors affecting stream health.
Archaeologist Zane Fulbright and natural resource specialist Steve Smith focused on the relationship between healthy riparian areas and local geology and invasive plant species. Correlating the sediment in the stream channel with Kootenai Formation sandstone found throughout the area, students looked around to see the relationship between rocks, landforms, plants and hydrologic processes they had been measuring.
Smith helped students identify noxious and invasive plants in the riparian area, and distinguish annuals, biennials and perennials. He also quizzed the students on how weeds are spreading throughout the watershed, and effective ways to eradicate weeds.
“By partnering with the BLM, the Lewistown Public Schools continue to expand the learning opportunities afforded their students, and the BLM continues to support the local community by helping educate the next generation of public land users and managers,” said BLM Lewistown field manager Pete McFadden. “Connecting kids to public lands connects them to America’s natural and cultural heritage.”