May 12th, 2008 | Published in Google SketchUp
A whole bunch of us headed over to Sawhill Ponds (just East of Boulder) to help out Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado with a project we conceived and created together. We spent the afternoon clearing an acre of invasive thistles and planting more that 350 cottonwood trees along the banks of one of the ponds. All told, about 40 Googlers from the Boulder and Denver offices (joined by friends and family, and members of Americorps) celebrated Earth Day by pitching in.
The ponds themselves are the result of gravel mining; since that ceased about 30 years ago, the pits that were left filled up with groundwater. These days, the area is a wetland habitat for many species of wildlife. The cottonwood trees that we planted, once grown, will provide shade that will help keep the water cool. This is turn will reduce the growth of things like non-native Eurasian water milfoil and green algae, and discourage the growth of invasive plant species that need full sunlight to thrive.
In the photos above, you can see that it looks like we were planting sticks. We were — sort of. Cottonwood trees can be planted by burying cut branches from mature trees that have been placed in water to develop roots. Who knew?