Artist Boat is leading Houston-area intermediate students with habitat restoration adventures to Galveston this month. Students will get hands-on learning about the coastal environment by restoring dunes with plant vegetation on the beach along certain areas of the seawall.
The planting project began Thursday and will continue through March 11. The goal is to plant more than 4,000 plants from 45th Street to 61st Street. Participating students will be able to build on their knowledge of the coastal environment.
From Bondy and Southmore intermediate schools in Pasadena, the students will benefit from the Artist Boat’s “Turn the TIDE” grant award aimed to advocate for “Tomorrow, Inform the community about current social-end ecological issues, Discuss and Debate next steps, and learn from shared Experiences.” Grant funding comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Bay Watershed Education Training Program.
Thanks to the grant funding, the students will be able to participate in several Artist Boat programs throughout the year in addition to the planting project. They include an Eco-Art Workshop, Eco-Art Kayak Adventure on Galveston Bay and creating a podcast.
“Planting along the sand will help to build and stabilize the dunes and provide ecological value to bees, butterflies and birds,” Artist Boat Education Coordinator Karissa Laffey said. “Each plant will be placed in a hole with a small amount of fertilizer. Adding fertilizer will improve the water retention capacity and nutrient quality of the sand.”
Among the selected plant species the group will use are salt grass, Beach Morning Glory, Beach dune sunflower, Gulf salt meadow cordgrass, sea oats, railroad vine, sea purslane and panic grass.
“To ensure the plants establish, we will install signage that informs beachgoers of the restoration project and ask them to stay off the planted area,” Laffey said. “For its part, the park board Coastal Zone Management staff will water the plants.”
Artist Boat has made great strides in preservation efforts in the area. Its Habitat and Stewardship Program has restored 63.5 acres of coastal habitat in the Galveston area since 2007 through federal, state and local grants and through partnerships with private landowners.
“The park board is fortunate to have formed a valuable partnership with Artist Boat,” park board Chief Executive Officer Kelly de Schaun said. “We’ve worked with them on so many projects — from Beautify the Bucket to The Bucket Brigade, recycling and special events like World Oceans Day. We’re glad to work with them on this important preservation project, too.”
Park board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesdays of the month at 601 23rd St. Meetings can be viewed via livestream at www.galvestonparkboard.org.