Day of Community Service

Twenty-four students from Orangewood Christian Academy in Garden Grove visited Irvine on October 22 with one goal in mind – to give back to the community. They did so by planting 30 trees and 36 shrubs at Irvine Ranch Water District’s Orchard Meadows Natural Treatment System site.

“The entire school is out today, giving back to the community in some form,” said Helen Dowser, who teaches junior high school science and high school biology. “We do this twice a year. Many here today have never planted a tree.”

Students from seventh to twelfth grade were performing community service at several venues. Some were singing at convalescent hospitals, others were working at food banks and the 24 students visiting the IRWD site were charged with planting the trees and shrubs.

The tree and shrub stock were donated by the Shadetree Partnership, a non-profit organization that has its nursery at UC Irvine. The students spent three hours planting 15 sycamores, 15 alders, 20 buckwheats and 16 coyote bushes.

They were instructed by Dave Asman, IRWD’s landscape contract coordinator, on the proper methods of tree planting. He was assisted by Ian Swift, IRWD’s supervising wetlands biologist, who oversees the NTS sites, and a host of other volunteers.

IRWD has 13 active NTS sites, which includes the 320-acre San Joaquin Marsh. The Orchard Meadow site is 1.5 acres, located on Orchard Hills, off of Portola Parkway in Irvine. The NTS is a cost-effective, environmentally sound method for treating dry weather urban runoff. All of the smaller NTS sites are modeled after the Marsh, which uses ponds to remove nitrogen, phosphorus and bacteria from surface waters throughout the San Diego Creek Watershed. The contaminants are prevented from reaching the Upper Newport Back Bay.

In addition to cleaning up urban runoff, the NTS sites and the Marsh provide riparian habitat and water-quality benefits to wildlife throughout the watershed.