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Alabama’s Baldwin County Grasses in Classes Program

Created: 3/29/2010 - Updated: 5/09/2019

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Summary

The Grasses in Classes program is one of the “Climate Steward” examples provided in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators. Students cultivated and planted native grasses at restoration sites along Alabama’s Gulf of Mexico coast. This pilot project has also been instituted in classrooms in Tampa Bay (Florida) and Chesapeake Bay (Maryland).

Background

Storms, such as Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina in 2004 and 2005, respectively, have degraded habitats along the Gulf Coast of the United States and damaged dunes and salt marshes in coastal Alabama. These habitats have also been destroyed by development. Native grasses provide shoreline stabilization and habitat for wildlife; without this vegetation, coastal areas are much more susceptible to increased coastal storms and sea level rise. This project is one of the case studies in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators, developed to aid educators in communicating how climate change will affect the environment and how people can become “climate stewards.” The Baldwin County Grasses in Classes (BCGIC) program, created in 2005, utilized students (with guidance from teachers and experts) to grow native plants for wetland and dune restoration projects. In addition, the students helped to maintain and monitor native plant nurseries, and assisted scientists with monitoring at restoration sites when possible.

Implementation

Funding for this program was provided by the Gulf of Mexico Community-based Restoration Partnership. Students planted bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum), sea oats (Uniola paniculata), and saltwater cordgrass (Spartina patens) at the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge, and removed the invasive common reed (Phragmites) and replanted grasses black needle rush (Juncus romerianus) and smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) at the Weeks Bay NERR.

Outcomes and Conclusions

Funding for this project expired in 2006. This program has been adapted to other programs in Florida and Maryland.

Status

Information gathered from online resources. Last updated 3/29/10.

Citation

Gregg, R. M. (2010). Alabama's Baldwin County Grasses in Classes Program [Case study on a project of Baldwin County Public Schools]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/alabama’s-baldwin-county-grasses-classes-program (Last updated March 2010)

Project Contacts

The Baldwin County Public Schools’ mission is to provide a quality education that fosters learning and to create a world class learning environment.

The Weeks Bay Reserve encompasses 6,000 acres of land and water in and around Weeks Bay and along Mobile Bay. The Reserve has a free educational interpretive center and two boardwalks. One boardwalk is behind the Reserve Interpretive Center and leads to Weeks Bay; the pitcher plant bog boardwalk connects to Fish River. The hours of the Interpretive Center are Monday through Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Reserve is closed for state holidays but the boardwalks remain open. For more information contact the Weeks Bay Reserve at (251) 928-9792.

Keywords

Scale of Project: 
Community / Local
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Erosion
Sea level rise
Storms or extreme weather events
Climate Type: 
Subtropical
Timeframe: 
1-3 years
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Capacity Building
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Sociopolitical Setting: 
Urban
Rural
Effort Stage: 
Completed