Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Winter River Dance

About a week ago, we had over a foot of snow; then it warmed up and rained.  The temperatures were supposed to hit 60 degrees this weekend, so you can bet our family took advantage of the nice weather to survey our stream – Difficult Run in Great Falls VA.  The water was relatively (but not dangerously) high and running pretty quickly.  It definitely looked muddy, too, so we weren’t really sure what we would find.  We did our “river dance” four times for 60 seconds each.  We danced near the riffles (places where the water is not still and the invertebrates get lots of oxygen).  We danced deep20140222113832 and we danced shallow 20140222120046Unfortunately, all that dancing yielded lots of algae20140222114030 and only 29 invertebrates – we should have seen at least 200!  Our stream earned a score of 8, which means the health of the stream is a bit uncertain at this point -- at least it's not a 4 or 5, like some stretches of the stream we surveyed have been!  The good news is, we saw some creatures that generally like pretty clean water – caddisflies and stoneflies.  Despite dancing into the stream bed nearly 1 foot, we couldn’t find any of the many clams we found last count.  We’re looking forward to counting in warmer weather – who knows what spring will bring!

Remember that you too can “adopt” a stream and monitor for invertebrates.  If you live in Fairfax County VA, contact the Northern VA Soil and Water Conservation District.   Somewhere else in VA?  Contact Virginia Save Our Streams (VASOS).  Not in VA?  Check out the information from the Izaak Walton League of America.  It’s fun and you’ll learn a lot about the health of your local streams!
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