What is the Habitat?
Located on the north side of Boulder, Colorado, Crest View also offers and ecological alternative to the usual schoolyard activity. An "outdoor learning center" referred to as the Habitat contains a reclaimed prairie swale that includes three tiny streams, a small pond, shrub thickets, and groves of ponderosa pine and wild plum. To provide access and seating for classes, the 1.3-acre Habitat includes a bridge, a "floating" boardwalk, and an eighty-seat amphitheater made from local red sandstone.
During school hours the little marsh and prairie are the sites of classes and other programmed activities for Crest View's students. The Habitat Committee has also developed 18 lesson plans to utilize the Habitat as a base for the curriculum requirements for all the 6 class levels.
Until the 1950s, the area that now constitutes the Habitat was a marsh recharged annually by spring snows. When Crest View was built, the wetland was filled using earth excavated from adjacent road construction. But the marsh persisted, so the school installed a concrete drainage ditch. In 1989, Deborah Keammerer, a restoration ecologist, and a group of parents, approached the principal with a proposal to remove the ditch to create what she called "a natural habitat for exploration and learning - a place where field trips could be taken at any time without leaving the school grounds." Along with Rob Layton, ASLA, a principal of Design Concepts, parents, and the Boulder community, the Habitat was built.
The Habitat eventually became an inspiration for the National Schoolyard Habitat Program sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation. Today, there are over 2000 school yard habitats.
Check out the slide show on the history of the Habitat (may take a couple of minutes to load)....