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 Camp Cuyamaca Employees, Students Plant Native Vegetation

​Employees and students at Camp Cuyamaca are working to beautify the campus and make it more welcome to wildlife: one native plant at a time.

For the last seven years, they have planted hundreds of native plants on the 6th Grade Camp campus in areas that were previously small patches of weeds.

“This is my passion,” said Sharyl Massey, a head outdoor education specialist there. “To have this native garden right here in the campus is way better than a weed lot.”

The first step was to work with the California Native Plant Society to design the landscape. Then, they worked to install fencing in the areas with the help of inmates at a local conservation camp.

As part of the effort, they have put together an interpretive trail with grant money. The trail looks at the destruction caused by wildfires over the years and the native grass that is the first thing to return to the charred earth.

Having the displays and native plants so close to the cabins there helps students with limited mobility to be able to enjoy some of the same learning experiences as other students without going on long hikes.

Eventually, the goal is to be certified by the National Wildlife Federation as part of its Schoolyard Habitats program.

Photo: Sharyl Massey poses in front of one of the patches of native plants at Camp Cuyamaca.