It may not seem as though March in Oregon would provide the ingredients for a warm, beach day but between the occasional bursts of sunshine, the buds of trees and shrubs appearing everywhere, and sand castles made out of mulch, we were practically on a sunny coast.
Students gathered to learn about the technique of mulching plants- that it will help to retain moisture in our warm, dry, summer months and keep our native trees and shrubs alive and happy. We put an entire bucket of mulch around each new, native tree or shrub and weeded out any invasive species from the surrounding area.
Students also planted a few more native trees and shrubs to shade our creek, stabilize our banks, and filter runoff from entering our waterway.
Lastly, we made leaf packs in old, recycled SOLVE bags, put them in the two pond areas of the site and secured them to a nearby tree. These leaf packs, full of leaves (you guessed it), twigs, grass, etc., will hopefully be attractive habitat to macroinvertebrates living in the stream. Our hope is that these macroinvertebrates will crawl into the holes of the bag so we can take a look at them when we examine the contents of the bag next time! Macroinvertebrates are a great way to gain a sense of the water quality in a stream. Certain macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects big enough to see with a naked eye) are very picky and only stand for the cleanest water while some really don’t care about having clean water. Which macroinvertebrates we find will give us a hint as to what kind of water we have in our creek.
While we were placing these bags out, we also found egg masses of a Pacific Chorus Frog. It will be exciting to see if we get a lot of tadpoles in the stream soon!
The Pacific Chorus Frog can be distinguished from all other frogs within its geographic range by two characteristics: 1) the presence of toepads, and 2) a dark stripe that extends from just before the nostril, through the eye, and past the tympanum (ear). No other frogs found within the geographic range of the Pacific Chorus Frog have both of these characters.
As we wrapped up, built much- castles, and ate lunch we talked about how cool it would be to write a newsletter to educate the community on our work out at Beaverton Creek Tributary/ Karper Creek/ Mt View Middle Creek. We could tell everyone about why we have planted native trees and shrubs, why Reed Canary Grass and Armenian Blackberry are bad to keep around, and all of the neat findings such as the egg mass and eventually the results of our macroinvertebrate findings! Students volunteered to start writing bits of this newsletter. Feel free to email any pieces of the newsletter to firstname.lastname@example.org or give them to Mr. Karper at any time! We are excited to see what everyone comes up with!
We may not have left with the best beach tan, but we definitely had fun and made a huge difference to our watershed.
Thank you to Clean Water Services for funding this project!