Several months back I received an email from the Huron River Watership Council. They were looking for volunteers for a new program they were starting up, River Scouts. The council members are trying to collect data on the hundreds of miles of creeks and tributaries that feed into the Huron River. Since funds are tight for this kind of field work they need volunteers. I volunteered.
I had to attend a training meeting to find out what this was all about. I was going to be part of a 5 person team (I have to say person because I was the only male, sometimes it’s good to be me) that was assigned to Wood Creek. This little stream is located in Lower Huron Metro Park. My team and I would be making 3 visits throughout the summer to take readings, pictures, clean up garbage and record any observations concerning wildlife or any aquatic critters. Seems simple right? Oh was I in for a surprise.
Since we are all volunteers we are doing this out of the kindness of our hearts. If other things come up then our volunteer work will have to wait. Such is the case with this. Trying to schedule a time when all five of us would be available was next to impossible. Throw in the fact that the June of 2013 received almost twice as much rain as we normally do and you can see what I was up against. Eventually I just said to heck with everyone’s schedule and just picked a date. July 4th.
I sent out the email stating the date and only one person showed up, Erin. That’s okay, for what we needed to do I figured one person would be enough. I was more worried about the water levels anyway. The prior weekend the levels were about 4 feet above normal and made wading the stream hazardous. I had stopped by on July 2nd to see what the level was like and it had dropped some. My fingers were crossed that a few more days and no rain would finally allow me to do the initial testing. Erin arrived shortly after I did and we packed up the gear and headed to the stream. The water level was back down to normal so we waded in. After one step I remembered that I never fixed the leak in my hip boots. Erin just waded in with what she was wearing. She soon found out that all natural insect repellant doesn’t work worth a damn. They attacked her in swarms. For some strange reason they left me alone, not that I was complaining.
Part of our work is to take temperature and water conductivity readings. The meter they gave me takes both temperatures and measures the ions in the stream. Anything under a reading of 2 means the water is clean and healthy. We had to take a reading every 30 feet and mark it with GPS coordinates as well. All of our reading were around 20 degrees Celsius (or 68 Degrees Fahrenheit) and a conductivity reading of .80. All seems good. The stream itself had a gravel bottom the whole length we checked. A good sign for all those Steelheaders. A member of the HRWC told me that they have had reports of steelhead fingerlings this far up the Huron so this may be a viable spawning area for them.
Another part of our job was to take pictures of the surrounding vegetation and make notes of any aquatic or land based wildlife. Didn’t see any critters but I did see lots of baitfish in the stream. As far as insects go there were a lot of damsel flies and of course about a gazillion mosquitoes. Because of this and the total failure of Erin’s all natural repellant we hurried through our sampling and got off the stream in a hurry. She was a little annoyed that I never got bit. Like I said before, sometimes it’s good to be me. She was a good sport about it thought and offered to enter all our data in to the spreadsheet we were given. I told her I would go through the pictures and add them alter when she was done.
Mission Accomplished, now all I had to do was try and schedule future visits with the rest of the team.
I’m not too optimistic about this.
Up Next, Creek Walk #2 and my Advanced Warning System.