Sunday, May 31, 2015

Third Annual Amazon Creek Clean-Up

The River Spies chose a culminating action project to improve the water quality of Amazon Creek. On 5/29/15, the River Spies embarked upon our third annual Amazon Creek Clean Up

We started at the north end of Amazon Park near 24th Avenue and Amazon Parkway and worked our way south along the bike trail. The River Spies collected as much trash as possible; they know that every piece removed improves the health of Amazon Creek!

Armed with gloves, trash bags, squeeze handles, and boots, the River Spies picked up an array of litter: plastic bags, food wrappers, a broken trail sign, bottles, clothes, and balls. We are happy to report that we found less trash than we did during our last clean-up. We hope to see this trend continue!
Carrie Karl explains clean-up procedures to the River Spies
A gigantic thank you to Carrie Karl of Eugene Park Stewards for greeting us at Amazon Park, accompanying our crew, providing gear, and for hauling away our trash collection at the end. 

River Spies featured in Envision

Sulley Schuster, a University of Oregon environmental science student and journalist, wrote an article about environmental education at Edison Elementary and the River Spies program in the online UO publication Envision. Link to the article:

I had the good fortune of having Sulley and Aida Goma Petit - also a UO student- serve as River Spies volunteers this Spring. The kids adored Sulley and Aida's vibrant personalities and their enthusiasm for the outdoors.
Sulley and Aida - many thanks to you both!

Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Sampling in Amazon Headwaters

On 5/22/15, the Rivers Spies surveyed for aquatic macroinvertebrates in Amazon Creek at the base of Amazon Headwaters (south of Frank Kinney Park along Martin Street trail). 

Macroinvertebrates are animals that lack a backbone and can be seen with the unaided eye. "Aquatic" refers to animals that spend most of their lives associated with bodies of water. These animals are excellent bioindicators - their presence, abundance, and diversity can indicate the health of a stream, river, lake, wetland, or other aquatic environment. Macroinvertebrates are grouped according to their tolerance to pollution. 

We temporarily removed some 
macroinvertebrates for closer inspection.
At our survey site, we turned over rocks and scanned the water in search of macroinvertebrates. We found several species including caddis flies in their stony fortresses, water striders, scuds (amphipods), leeches, at least a hundred mayfly larvae! 

Mayfly Larva
Caddisfly Larva

Scud - also known as Sideswimmer or Amphipod

Damselfly Larva

Water Strider

Overall, our Amazon Creek site rated as having fair water quality.
I loaded our results from 5/22/15 onto StreamWebs™  - an online water quality data base managed by OSU:

Second Water Quality Survey of Spring Season

On 5/15/15, the intrepid River Spies braved inclement weather and tested Amazon Creek water quality in Amazon Park. Our site was in line with 26th Avenue and just west of Amazon Pool. We accessed Amazon Creek from the east side adjacent to the bike path. The River Spies measured water temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and pH.

The River Spies!

The Amazon Creek site had a water temperature of 11℃ - a degree cooler than our previous water testing site. We attributed the cooler water temperature to the shading provided by vegetation surrounding the banks. Aquatic organisms need a certain temperature range to survive and thrive. For a frame of reference, trout and salmon require cool water no greater than 20℃ to survive. Salmon and steelhead need water temperatures less than 13℃ to spawn.
The Amazon Creek site had a turbidity reading of 0 JTU. We made sure to collect water before we stirred up any creek bed sediment. In general, the less turbid (or less suspended particles) the better. Suspended particles can clog fish gills, smother eggs, block sunlight needed by aquatic plants, and raise water temperature by absorbing heat.
Dissolved Oxygen
The Amazon Creek site had a DO reading of 2ppm. The slow rate of flow may account for the low dissolved oxygen reading. Bodies of water with high dissolved oxygen levels provide healthy and stable environments for a variety of aquatic organisms. 
Our Amazon Creek site had a pH of 7.5. A majority of freshwater organisms 
live within a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. 

Later, I entered our data on the World Water Monitoring website

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bird Survey at Washburn Park

On 4/24/15, the River Spies practiced their birding skills 
by surveying for birds at Washburn Park. 

The River Spies identified European Starlings and American Crows, 
spotted two Scrub Jays, saw a House Sparrow, and heard at least one 
Black-capped Chickadee and one Song Sparrow. 

We saw upwards of thirty birds flying overheard feeding, but could not make a positive identification. Our best guess was some type of swallow based on the body shape and size. Results from our bird survey were recorded on the eBird website:

When we returned to Edison, we refilled the garden feeder. 

Then each River Spy made a handcrafted bird feeder to take home. We used leftover (and cleaned) milk and juice containers from the Edison Elementary cafeteria as the main body of the feeder. Thank you Chef Ray and Stacey for the supplies!