It seems like only a couple of weeks ago when these incredible students at Gladstone High School took their pre-tests and visited Rinearson Creek for the first time. Students have done such a great amount of work since that first meeting. Students reviewed all of the many efforts toward restoration they have been a part of. They listed clipping, raking, and digging out Armenian Blackberry, planting native trees and shrubs, bioengineering branches of willow, dogood, and spirea, trenching willow and dogood, developing plant identification skills through plant ID walks, making professional quality pieces of art from garbage, writing reflections on their work near the stream, finding a lost puppy, and most recently surveying macroinvertebrates in the stream.
The macroinvertebrates we surveyed have the potential to tell us about the quality of the water in streams. Some species of macroinvertebrates, like stoneflies and mayflies, are sensitive to pollution and their presence in a stream can indicate low pollution levels. Other species are less sensitive to pollution and an abundance of them can indicate poor water quality. We use macroinvertebrates to test water quality because it gives a holistic view of the river. These insects can live in streams for up to two years and thus their presence in streams has relevance to the water quality over a long period of time, not just that exact moment they are being sampled. We used a Pollution Tolerance Index (PTI) to get an overall number that identifies our river as healthy or polluted but found that our numbers were overall quite low, potentially indicating poor water quality. However, because some of the species we found were mayflies (sensitive to pollution), our data may just have been low due to the season. Macroinvertebrates are in their lowest population numbers in the winter. It was exciting to find mayflies and a few different species of insects in the stream! It would be even more interesting to see what we could find in the spring, summer, or even right at the start of next school year!
Rinearson Creek is, without a doubt, a healthier stream because of you, Gladstone High School. It has been relieved of the monoculture of Armenian Blackberry, will have more stable banks and make a cooler river due to the native trees and shrubs you planted, bioengineered and trenched, and people will be inspired to do the good work you’ve done through your writing reflections.
Thanks for all of your dedicated work, eager spirits, and hopeful attitudes always. Keep up the awesome work and energy. We look forward to meeting you down stream in the future.