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The City of Broken Arrow and Broken Arrow Public Schools will launch a unique and unprecedented joint collaborative effort to develop an environmental enhancement program along portions of the Upper Adams Creek watershed.The aim of the program is to effectively create an outdoor environmental classroom and ecological training center along a portion of the Upper Adams Creek floodplain corridor immediately adjacent to the Broken Arrow High School. Another goal is to make the corridor more accessible to the general public as well as more useful for students at the high school.The program may include floating wetlands, rain gardens, cascade aerators, fountains, nature preserves, pervious walking trails, specific types of ecological-friendly vegetation and other beneficial features to enhance the environment and ecological system within the corridor while improving the overall water quality of the stream.To kick-off the program, representatives from the City and BAPS, along with environmental science students, will launch a floating wetland into a detention facility immediately across Albany (61st) Street north of the high school, located at 1901 E. Albany St., at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26.Several different Broken Arrow High School science classes have already been using the facility to conduct outdoor field investigations.“Having an outdoor amenity accessible to our students will provide the opportunities for hands-on engagement in critical STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas, particularly dealing with ecological systems, environmental sustainability and water quality,” said Donna Gradel, 2018 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and environmental sciences teacher at BAHS. “It will also furnish avenues for students to collaborate in solving real-world problems in their local community with expert mentors from the City of Broken Arrow and the other professionals.”
This partnership will provide practical and tangible opportunities to educate students and the community alike on the benefits and necessity to provide sufficient and adequate flood protection, improve the water quality in natural waterways and enhance the natural habitat of these waterways.Initially, the program will focus on the regional detention facility north of the high school, but will expand upstream to the regulatory wetland preserve located in the commercial area south of the high school near Hillside Drive and the Broken Arrow Expressway.Assistant City Manager for Operations Kenneth Schwab said “the three goals of the program will be to provide and maintain adequate flood control and protection for our residents, improve water quality along the stream corridor and enhance the natural habitat in the area.”“A major benefit of the program will be to provide our students, the future leaders of our community, the opportunity to help plan what we want our community to become – a more ecologically-conscience and environmentally sustainable community,” said Dr. Janet Dunlop, superintendent of Broken Arrow Public Schools.“We want to create something that is useful for the students at Broken Arrow High School and beneficial to the public in general, while at the same time fulfills our obligation as a City to control stormwater runoff and protect property within the watershed,” said Broken Arrow City Manager Michael Spurgeon.Students and City staff will develop a plan for the land during this semester and begin implementing that plan in the Spring semester and continue improving and maintaining the area in the following years. Schwab said “this program may serve as a model that could be used at other natural drainage ways near other schools in the future.”