Spiders, Worms and Midge Larva, Oh My!

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Both Valley Catholic high school and middle school students joined us out at Johnson Creek today.  Students pulled on hip waders and got in the water to sample for macroinvertebrates.  SOLV uses a method of macroinvertebrate testing called Pollution Tolerance Index and this allows students to determine how clean a waterway is by the aquatic bugs and organisms they find.  Students came across a variety of organisms including scuds, beetle larva, aquatic sowbugs (Wide Range species worth 2 points each), snails, midge larva, and aquatic earthworms (Pollution tolerant species worth one point each).  Based on our data the stream rated a 9 which equals poor water quality.  (>23 = Excellent, 17-22 = Good, 11-16 = Fair, <10 = Poor)  We are planting native trees and shrubs along Johnson Creek to hopefully one day shade the stream and filter pollutants to improve water quality in Johnson Creek.

Students also coffee bagged and mulched native trees and shrubs they planted earlier in the year.  The coffee bags were donated to us from Boyd’s Coffee Company and when placed around our new plantings they shade out weeds, especially invasive Reed Canary Grass, and prevent competition.  Mulching our plantings is a critical part of the restoration process.  The mulch mimics growing conditions in a healthy riparian forest.  A healthy forest has a natural layer of ‘mulch’ (leaf litter and decaying organics, or duff layer) that provides a protective covering for immature plants.

Check out the photos below to see just how much students have accomplished in the forest!

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