Eighth graders from Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School came out, full of enthusiasm, to a very soggy Willow Creek this week to do some water quality testing as well as maintenance of the site, as we have finished planting there for the season.
Meghan (SOLV) led students in coffee bagging native plants to keep moisture in and impede invasive weed growth. These bags, secured with corn stakes, will biodegrade in just a few years, allowing the plant to get a head start on weeds. Alex (SOLV) coordinated caging of newly planted native trees, as there is a very active (and hungry!) population of beaver at the site. Students cut wire caging and installed it with stakes around trees to protect them from the gnawing teeth of our beaver friends.
Some students also came across what we believe are freshwater mussels. They could be Oregon floaters or California floaters, both of which are known to attach to salmon gills as larvae to migrate. From the Pacific Northwest Mussel Guide:
Normally, freshwater mussels can outlive most animal species on Earth; one species in the West can live longer than a century. But their longevity depends on stability—they are finicky about where they live, in what environmental conditions they thrive, and with which fi sh species they share their environment. Mussels are very sensitive to environmental changes and may indicate long-term degradation—or recovery—of aquatic ecosystems.
This could be a great indication of healthy waters in Willow Creek, as species like these are quite sensitive. We’ll do some more research on our end and keep you updated! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any input on this exciting new discovery.