Monday, May 19, 2014

Stream Ecology Day

Recently, the district held a Stream Ecology day, hosted by Rocky Fork Ranch Resorts on Broadhead Road, Kimbolton. A BIG "Thank You!" to activity director Denise Lind and camp naturalist Brianna for their help with this project.  Rocky Fork Creek is one of the few streams in Guernsey county that is rated good for darters, a small fish that indicates good water quality.  Besides the type of stream needed, the campground also has a big pavilion with restrooms, hot water, and electricity, making it ideal for a school outdoor event.

Devon Nichols, science teacher at Cambridge Middle School, brought 50 of his 6th graders to the event. They broke up into three groups and went to work.  One group collected water from the stream and ran several chemical tests to find the dissolved oxygen level, and look for the presence of nitrates or ammonia in the water.  Muskingum SWCD technician Van Slack instructed the students on the technique and helped them interpret their test results.
A second group hopped right into the stream and began looking for "bugs", referred to as macro-invertebrates.  By finding, identifying, and tracking the numbers of different "bugs", water quality can be evaluated.  Some of these macro-invertebrates are only found in high quality streams.  Susan Jividen from Deerasic Park helped the students identify their specimens and determine their significance to water quality indices.  
The third group found a nice riffle where dissolved oxygen levels would be high, and began seining for darters, fish that while small, are colorful this time of year due to wearing their breeding colors.  Travis Smith, GSWCD Wildlife/Forestry Specialist, and Jason Tyrell, GSWCD Technician donned chest waders and helped the students learn to operate the kick seine and identify the fish they found.

Greensided Darter

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