A Student Proposal To Restore Brooks Park Hollow

By: William F. Galvin

Monomoy Regional High School student Lily Daniels-Diehl has a plan for restoring Brooks Park Hollow in the wake of the July 23 tornado that cut through 2.7 miles of Harwich, destroying an estimated 3,000 trees along public ways, parks and conservation area. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

Project Would Replace Habitat Lost In Tornado

HARWICH — The power of the July tornado was measured by the number of fallen trees in Brooks Park Hollow, but the town may experience the strength of youth and dedication to community in Lily Daniels-Diehl, a Global Studies Program student at Monomoy Regional High School who has crafted plans to revegetate the hollow and restore its wildlife habitat.

Daniels-Diehl has met with the recreation and youth commission and provided a mission statement for her Global Studies project. The commission supported her initiative in concept and encouraged her to develop a more comprehensive plan. Daniels-Diehl will be presenting her plan to the recreation and youth commission on Tuesday evening.

The Global Studies Program encourages students to reach beyond the standard MRHS curriculum to make connections with the larger world. “The program is designed to challenge students to expand the scope of their education and prepare them to be active citizens of the world,” according to the program description.

“This is an out-of-the-box project, usually it’s more of a research project,” said Daniels-Diehl, a MRHS junior.

Daniels-Diehl took an environmental course at Cape Cod Community College which drew her into environmental issues. She said she'd like to work in the wildlife rehabilitation field. Those interests are a perfect match for her mission to restore Brooks Park Hollow. Sustainable planet and wildlife conservation are listed as science concentrations in the Global Studies program.

“Mom said they didn’t know what to do about the hollow with the number of trees taken down and people were upset about that,” Daniels-Diehl said of how she was drawn into the project. She drew up a mission statement and took it to the recreation and youth commission, which has jurisdiction over the hollow.

The statement included her goal to replant the hollow to benefit animals, plants, soil. Among her goals are replenishing the trees to restore the habitat for animals who lost their homes in the July 23 tornado, which destroyed an estimated 3,000 trees throughout town. She also proposed creating a learning area for school children and a nature area for adults to observe wildlife.

“She seems very responsible and organized,” Recreation Director Eric Beebe said after Daniels-Diehl presented her mission statement last month.

Daniels-Diehl has met with advisers and spent time with Charles Wentz, a horticulturalist with Ponderosa Landscaping, to shape a program for the types of plants and trees that should be located in the hollow. Wentz told her nothing indigenous would be bad, but he did say vines that could kill more trees need to be cut back.

She has written a letter she will be sending to area nurseries and landscaping companies, the Cape Cod Landscapers Association and the Harwich Garden Club seeking plant and tree donations to assist in restoring the hollow.

Her goal is to get at least 100 trees/plants for the project. Her plan identified native shrubs of interest, including arrowwood, summer sweet, rhododendron, azalea, winter berry, inkberry, bayberry, and holly. As for trees, she is looking for white pine, red maple, balsam fir, dogwood, magnolia, beech tree, Norway spruce, maple and black locust.

She said as the nurseries head into the winter season they have products they might need to dispose of, instead of having them winter-over in storage. She also pointed out landscaping companies are often in a position of removing shrubs that have overgrown a location but would be ideal for the hollow.

Daniels-Diehl is working on organizing groups to assist with the project. She said she will try to get the Cape Tech horticulture program to participate, and she is working with her Steminist Club at the high school to assist. Daniels-Diehl has an aggressive strategy, hoping to do plantings in November, December and January. The plan is also to get in touch with Boy and Girl Scout troops to see if they will build bird houses, bat houses and possum houses to assist with wildlife habitat rehabilitation.

Along with getting donations, money is the biggest obstacle, and she said she plans to pursue grant raise money during the Harwich Christmas Stroll through an adopt-a-tree program.

The idea is to have people pay a fee for the adoption of a Christmas tree to be planted in the hollow and the donor will get a plot location of the tree. If a tree costs $10, a $20 donation will be sought to provide funds with which to work, possibly purchasing larger trees to plant in the hollow. Another fund-raising concept is to have a bulb sale and plant a patch of daffodils in the hollow, selling the blooms for $5 a bunch. The bulbs will multiply each year and create more flowers, she said.

Wendy Daniels-Diehl, Lily’s mother, said they are working on a means for setting up an account for donations and to hold other funds that are raised, but they thought it best to wait for project approval from the recreation and youth commission. The student’s plan also has a proposal to work with the water and fire departments to water plants in the early stages of planting and in the dry summer season.

Working with her father, Brian Diehl, Lily has put together a 43-second drone video that illustrated the hollow before the tornado and the destruction left behind once it passed. Wendy Daniels-Diehl said the video will be posted on YouTube so people can better understand the destruction that took place there.

The Global Studies Program is designed to open the eyes of students to a broader world through classroom and hands-on experience. Daniels-Diehl said as part of the program she and other students spent two weeks in Tanzania as part of a cultural studies trip where they explored for a week and spent a week at a girls' boarding school were they lived with students. This year, she said students will be traveling to Costa Rica for more of a bio-science and wildlife learning experience.

“The hope behind this project is this is something we can do without bending the town financially,” Daniels-Diehl said.