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Green-Up volunteers plant trees to fortify Las Vegas Wash

Updated March 2, 2019 - 6:43 pm

Volunteers and organizers of the semiannual Green-Up project didn’t let the threat of a little rain keep them from planting thousands of trees and shrubs Saturday at the Las Vegas Wash.

About 150 volunteers joined together for the Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee-led event to plant more than 7,000 plants across 8.5 acres to help revegetate the wash.

While the event went on as scheduled despite morning rain and threatening skies, an organizer acknowledged the precipitation might have dampened volunteer turnout, noting that some 360 volunteers RSVP’d for the event.

Some previous Green-Up events have been canceled because of rain, but this was the first year the staff decided to run the event rain or shine, said Keiba Crear, manager of the Stewardship and Sustainability Division of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Still, the event saw great turnout, she said, drawing staff from the Las Vegas Water Coordination Committee’s member agencies, the College of Southern Nevada biology club members and students, Western and Green Valley high school students, and other community volunteer groups and families.

The main goal of the event, which has taken place twice a year for the past 20 years, is to work on stabilization of the wash, Crear said.

After Saturday’s event, more than 12,000 volunteers will have planted more than 124,200 trees and shrubs across approximately 285.5 acres at the wash, according to a news release from the Las Vegas Valley Water District.

“The Green-Up is one of many projects undertaken by the Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee to protect and enhance this important 12-mile waterway, which carries most of the Valley’s shallow groundwater, storm water, urban runoff and treated wastewater to Lake Mead,” the release said.

Many volunteers have been engaged in the events since the beginning, Crear said.

Doug Merkler, a retired soil scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said he and his wife, Lois, a professor of biology at the College of Southern Nevada, have attended all but one event over the past two decades.

“I really believe that bringing the public out to these events to have a hands-on experience and help plant empowers ownership into everything, and that’s been really great to see,” Doug Merkler said Saturday.

He praised the staff of the Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee for producing the events each year. “They are passionate, dedicated and hardworking,” he said, adding, “These events are not easy to put on.”

About 15 of Lois Merkler’s students and members of CSN’s biology club volunteered Saturday. Members of the club have volunteered at the Green-Up event over the past six years, she said.

Graduates and past students have come back to help year after year, Lois Merkler said. Students, she said, like to see the change in the area and check on how their plants have grown over time.

Western High School student Melvanah Eddy and six other members of the school’s National Honor Society were among those who volunteered Saturday.

The Green-Up event was Eddy’s first Green-Up event, and she said she was happy to dig in for a good cause.

“I don’t mind getting dirty, plus it’s a beautiful day out,” she said. “I love to contribute and help the community so I’m happy to be here.”

Contact Jessica Terrones at jerrones@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256. Follow @JessATerrones on Twitter.

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