Wood Creek, The Results.

23 11 2013

Earlier this week I went to a presentation by the HRWC of all the work the volunteers did this summer.  The data I gathered along with the data from over 100 volunteers was compiled into a 90 minute power point presentation.  This presentation took all the pictures, water samples, temp readings, bug collections and water flow measurements and put it into something I could understand.  The main thing I took form this is that the whole watershed is given a score from 1 to 100.  A score of 1 is basically the bottom of a port a john where as 100 is perfectly pristine.  The watershed as a whole had an average score of 67, with one section up by White Lake scoring a 93.

As for Wood Creek the overall score was a 66 which is extremely close to the river average.  Not bad but their were a few bright points and some areas for concern.  Phosphorus levels were above the accepted number but not by much.  Anyone who fishes in my world knows what high phosphorus levels leads too…Algal blooms.  Granted they won’t be as bad as the blooms in western Lake Erie but any bloom is a bad one.

One other item of concern that bothered me was in relation to the fish, specifically Steelhead.  Years ago  adult Steelhead were seen trying to spawn in Wood Creek.  A DNR electroshocking survey failed to locate any young of the year fish.  That still doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a hatch but it is highly unlikely.  One thing I did find out was that there is a dam .6 miles upstream from the mouth.  This dam is blocking the steelhead from being able to swim farther upstream to more suitable habitat.  Maybe someday the Dam will be removed.   This data will be used to help make the case for removing the dam along with other improvements throughout the whole watershed.  Hopefully the improvements will happen.

Overall it was an interesting experience that I will do again.  I’m sure they will contact me again to help out and hopefully a different stream.

 

 

 

 

 





River Scout, The Final Visit.

24 09 2013

 

It all comes down to this, the final visit.  Three months of trying to coordinate five people to meet and gather data along a 300 foot section of stream in southeast Michigan.  Seemed simple enough at first but it proved to be more problematic than I thought.  I figured the final visit would just be Erin and I again and I was right.  Only problem this time was faulty equipment.

On our final visit I arrived early so I could set some crayfish and minnow traps.  I had seen fish on earlier visits but could never get a good look at any of them.  The deepest part of the stream was where I placed the thermometer so I figured that would be a good site for a trap.  I also placed a crayfish trap further upstream in a rocky area hoping to catch some more crayfish and get a good positive ID.  Everything was set, now all I had to do was wait for Erin to show up.

AS I walked back to my Jeep Erin was heading down the trail.  After are Hello’s we headed back to the parking lot to get the rest of the gear.  We picked up the paperwork, meter, measuring stick and my camera and headed back to the stream.  Our starting point was where I placed my crayfish trap and we had 6 crayfish already in the trap.  As I started to pull them out for pictures I found out that 3 of them were the invasive Rusty.  The other 3 were northern crayfish.  They were a lot bigger than the Rusty’s so I’m hoping they are holding their own against them.  We took a few pictures and then started to take our initial readings.  This was when I found out the meter didn’t work.  I should have known better to check it when I picked it up but I didn’t.  Can’t take any readings without a meter so we started to pack everything up.  We took some pictures of some of the plants and that was when I found out the memory card on my camera was full.  This came as a bit of a surprise to me but then I remembered that I let my daughter borrow my camera for a day at the beach with friends.  She must have used up all my memory taking pictures.  Teenagers…….

Well so much for this day.  I pulled the traps and we packed everything up until later on when I can get a new meter and a blank memory card for the camera.  Oh well…..

Round 2   

Well after picking up a new meter, clearing some space on my camera disc and installing a fresh set of batteries we were ready to go again.  I didn’t bother with the traps this time, I caught what I wanted so there was no need.  This was going to be a quick gather some reading trip.  I started off taking the initial readings but when we reached the halfway point I handed the GPS and water conductivity meter over to Erin.  She wanted to see how the meter worked and I needed to get some pictures of her as well.  She took about 4 more readings and then next thing we knew we were at the end of our sample area.  All that was left now was for Erin to compile all the data and for me to turn it in with all the equipment.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

I have to say this was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.  Walking up and down Wood Creek brought back a lot of fond memories of myself as a kid exploring all the creeks and streams of my youth.

Good Times.

DSCN0598 DSCN0596 DSCN0565 Last Wood Creek Visit (6')





River Scout Part One

5 08 2013

 

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.

Wood Creek (1) Wood Creek (2)