Even though this fall is very different for the ELC our staff is still keeping busy with site maintenance and lots of cool projects. Read this week’s blog post to learn about projects happening around the ELC, our visitor numbers since COVID-19, and ways that you can get involved through Make a Difference Day!

Staff members Anna, Claire, and Emma have been putting together a self-guided video tour of the ELC. Their first video provides instructions on how to create a nature observation journal and future videos will detail fun activities to do at the ELC. Check out the videos here.

Meanwhile, Vica and Fran have been working on deconstructing our old compost bins and preparing to construct new ones. The pictures below show the deconstruction process of our old compost bins, which were falling apart. Construction on the new compost bins begins soon!

A series of three wooden compost bins are shown with shovels propped up against them. This is the before picture.

Old compost bins before deconstruction. Credit: Fran Letts

The area where the wooden compost bins were is now empty except for a small pile of dirt. This is the after picture.

After deconstruction of old compost bins. Credit: Fran Letts

Over in the garden, Kaili is installing our new pollinator-friendly garden bed. In fact, she planted some perennials last week!

Newly planted perennials in a garden bed marked by orange flags.

These pollinator-friendly perennials will provide food for bees and butterflies for years to come. Credit: Kaili Schroeder

Finally, Isaiah, Parker, Zach, and Sully are working on general site maintenance and invasive species management. They are focusing on removing woolly mullein and Canada thistle, both invasive plants.

Right now, Parker’s biggest project is trail maintenance to accommodate the high influx of visitors we have seen since the start of the pandemic. The Environmental Learning Center property sees over 28,000 visitors annually in a normal year, and our monthly visitor numbers nearly doubled after the pandemic began.

While we are overjoyed that our beautiful natural space is providing much needed peace and respite for people, we are also seeing increased impact to the property. When many people repeatedly walk off trail, plants begin to die off and a “social” trail is created. These “social” trails can disturb wildlife, damage plants and contribute to soil erosion. Parker is closing “social” trails like the one pictured below so the native plants can start to regrow.

A faint trail extends through the trees

“Social” trails like this one can disturb wildlife and cause damaging erosion. Credit: Kristen Wilkinson

We encourage you to come visit the ELC, if you see a smaller trail blocked off with tree branches please don’t use it. Staying on the established trails helps protect the health of the plants and animals that call the ELC home. Thanks for your help preserving this beautiful natural area!

Finally, if you have been enjoying the ELC lately and would like to volunteer, please check out our Make a Difference Day project this October. Sign up for our Make a Difference Day project here.