EPA Honors Fairbanks, Alaska High School Students for Working to Protect Water Quality and Salmon Habitat

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is recognizing ten high school students in Fairbanks, Alaska for their work to help restore and protect water quality and salmon habitat in the Chena River. The students participated in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fairbanks Youth for Habitat program and were awarded regional first runner up in the 2015 President’s Environmental Youth Award competition. The award will be presented this Friday at an event hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tanana Valley Watershed Association to debut a film featuring the winning students, “Voices of the Chena.”

Fairbanks Youth for Habitat is a two year program that offers students experience with hands-on habitat restoration in the Fairbanks area. The students participating in the program directed two projects from design through implementation. The first group of students restored a stretch of eroded stream bank along the Chena River, using techniques learned in a habitat restoration workshop to stabilize eroding soil and buffer growing plants from boat wakes. The second group of students designed and created a rain garden and filtration planter boxes at a public building to catch and filter stormwater run-off. The students also produced a video to educate the public about the importance of stream bank habitat for salmon and an interpretive sign to educate visitors about the value of rain gardens to improve water quality.

Both projects help improve water quality and habitat in the Chena River for Chinook salmon and other native fish. The projects also benefit Fairbanks residents by adding visual appeal to the community. The stream bank restoration project took an area of badly eroded bank and replaced it with a vibrant community of native plants. Along with filtering run-off, the rain garden and planter boxes house native and ornamental plants that bloom throughout the season, adding beauty to a previously neglected area of lawn outside a public building.

Learn more about environmental education at EPA: https://www.epa.gov/education

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