On September 13th Valley Catholic High School sent students out to Johnson Creek to do macro-invertebrate surveys and to remove some nasty, invasive Himalayan Blackberry.
The macro surveys consisted of students putting on knee high waders and actually getting into Johnson Creek and scraping the bottoms and sides in search of interesting critters! These students also took several measurements including depth and water velocity in order to have more accurate data in later sampling. Students found a plethora of tadpoles and newts which still had their tales on them, as well as several types of fly larvae including mayflies and stoneflies. One student got her boot stuck in the side of the creek and another pretty much took the dive and was up to her waist in Johnson Creek measuring the bottom of it! After the collection we headed back to some outdoor tables where identification worksheets were available for students to decipher exactly what they had found.
Later in the day, another class came out behind the school and removed invasive Himalayan Blackberry, also known as Armenian Blackberry. Armenian Blackberry has a tendency to take over entire natural areas and outcompete other plants for resources. Simply cutting them down is not enough to remove them and their ball-shaped roots must be dug up from the ground. Before students got to work digging out blackberry roots, they played a game we call the Riparian Metaphor Game.
Students stand in a circle and draw an item from the bag- these items include a sponge, a coffee filter, an ice-cube tray and more. Then, each student is asked to come up with a metaphor relating their item to one function of a healthy riparian area.
For example, a healthy riparian area is an ice-cube tray because it cools down water as it moves through. Cooler water holds more dissolved oxygen which means that it is easier for fish to breathe! A healthy riparian area has trees growing along its banks to provide shade so that the stream water is cold.
Once the Riparian Metaphor Game was over the students worked hard at digging up Himalayan Blackberry roots!
Thank you for all of your help Valley Catholic, you all did an amazing job!
Until next time,