The goal of the project was to offer a community service by spreading awareness for the problems caused by the foreign species, said Evans-Bye, adding that the students will present a map to the canyon’s nature center that details the locations and impacts of the plants that they identify.
The group had already presented a similar map to a nature center at Eaton Canyon in Pasadena — using the Google Earth mapping program and Adobe Photoshop to label the five most dangerous species — and had used those findings for a submission to the Lexus Eco Challenge science competition, she said.
Yeva was the only student to participate in Sunday’s effort at Stough Canyon, which occurred on the first weekend of winter break for public schools and was too early — at noon — to inspire some of her peers out of bed, she said, joking that the others didn’t show up “because they’re lazy.”
That left her on her own to mark each species using a piece of $3,600 equipment that, when finished, would upload all of the information into a computer and plot the marked locations of each species on a map.
“It’s fun until you reach the deadline for the competitions,” Yeva said of working on the project, which she has continued to develop, even after learning that her team did not win the Lexus competition.
“It’s like something I do for the heck of it, or for recreation,” she said, adding that the plant species she was identifying posed real threats to the area.
The most dangerous invasive plants take up space that is used by native plants but subsequently suffer in the dry climate, creating a bed of fuel for wildfires, Evans-Bye said.