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La Paloma students plant a natural sage preserve

FALLBROOK — On March 26, more than 200 fifth graders from La Paloma Elementary School arrived at the Fallbrook Land Conservancy’s Heller’s Bend Preserve and were reunited with the California native species that they had planted in containers at their school in the spring of 2009.

With the guidance of 20 Save Our Forest (SOF) volunteers, the students planted seedlings, creating a coastal sage and scrub habitat. This marks a full circle for the beautiful hills of Heller’s Bend. The natural state of the preserve had been converted to avocado groves for many decades, but now the trees have been removed, and students are taking part in restoring a bit of Old California landscape.

In the first year of their two-year educational outreach program with La Paloma, Jean Dooley and other SOF volunteers meet with fourth-graders to explain the importance of native trees and plants to the environment. Each student plants a seedling in an individual container, which is then taken to the SOF nursery and cared for until the following year when the same children plant them in one of the Fallbrook Land Conservancy’s preserves, or other environmentally sensitive areas.

Jackie Heyneman, who heads the SOF organization, states that the students learn more that simply how to plant something. “They also learn the value of native plants in coping with ever-dwindling water supplies; they get out into some beautiful country working together, and they also learn the value of community service. We hope all these things will stay with them for a long time,” she said.


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