(Photo above: Kasberger teaching Tawnya Lane’s seventh grade class at the Crook County Middle School | provided by the city of Prineville)
The Crooked River Wetlands Project, 120 acres of ponds and lagoons along the Crooked River, will utilize the natural environment to treat wastewater. Additionally, riparian improvements along the river, as well as over five miles of hiking trails (three of which will be paved) will promote educational awareness, fitness, and environmental sustainability.
The project came about through innovative and environmentally-conscious thinking on the part of the City of Prineville.
The City was faced with a mandate to expand and improve its wastewater treatment capability. The normal solution, a new wastewater treatment plant, would have cost the City (and taxpayers) over $62 million. And it wouldn’t be expandable or as environmentally sustainable as city staff desired.
Innovative thinking by the City included involving students from the Crook County school system. The Wetlands Project will include 13 educational kiosks, each one emphasizing a different topic related to the environment. Topics include Steelhead reintroduction, habitat and animals, riparian and wetland plants, macro invertebrates, birds, agriculture in Crook County, flooding history, river watershed, history and science of wastewater treatment, trail maps and the importance of bees to the environment.
Over the past few months students from the schools have been researching their assigned topics through field trips and in-class seminars conducted by city staff and local environmental experts.
As the classes complete their individual kiosk projects their designs will be handed-off to a graphic designer. The designer will put the students’ work in a format that can be displayed on the kiosks.
Mike Kasberger, Prineville’s assistant city engineer, is amazed at the enthusiasm with which the students have embraced the kiosk projects. “It’s really exciting to see the enthusiasm that the students have for learning about the wetlands and their role in educating others about the project using kiosks that they actually designed.”
Eric Klann, Prineville’s city engineer, has been a driving force on the Wetlands project for several years. “My favorite component of this project is the 13 educational kiosks being designed by our local school children. These will enhance future school field trips and learning experiences way into the future.”