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CTA students found what’s bugging us in Cedar Creek

Nichol DeMull, of Trout Unlimited, instructs a CTA student on how to search for insects in Cedar Creek. Photo by J. Reed.

Nichol DeMull, of Trout Unlimited, instructs a CTA student on how to search for insects in Cedar Creek. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Stream monitoring done by Creative Technologies students this week show that Cedar Creek has excellent water quality, according to Nichol DeMull, of Trout Unlimited.

CTA biology and conservation students and teachers Jim Fredenberg and Trisha Rose teamed up with Trout Unlimited this week to do stream monitoring in Cedar Creek, at Riggle Park. According to DeMull, Fredenberg contacted her about possibly participating in the activity, since the school is nearby. DeMull and Jamie Vaughn did a presentation to the students on Monday, April 18, and the students donned waders and gloves Tuesday, April 19, to collect bugs from Cedar Creek and identify them. Some students waded through the Creek to scoop up the bugs, other students helped empty the nets, and others sorted through them. They identified and counted them, and recorded what they saw on a data sheet put together by the Michigan Clean Water Corps.

Students identify and count bugs found in Cedar Creek. Photo by J. Reed.

Students identify and count bugs found in Cedar Creek. Photo by J. Reed.

According to DeMull, bugs are the evidence of stream quality. “The students found a large diversity of insects in Cedar Creek. In the cleanest rivers, lakes, and ponds you’ll find the greatest diversity of aquatic invertebrates,” she explained. “In polluted waters, only a few species of stream insects can survive. Some of the insects they found included caddisflies, mayflies, and stoneflies. These insects are sensitive to pollution and can only survive in clean water.”

She said the students identified the kinds of insects, whether they were rare or common in the stream, and used a formula to come up with the Stream Quality Score.

CTA students teamed up in several groups to monitor bugs in Cedar Creek. Photo by J. Reed.

CTA students teamed up in several groups to monitor bugs in Cedar Creek. Photo by J. Reed.

DeMull said that we can assume that the excellent stream quality extends to a certain degree in both directions from Riggle Park. “We have another monitoring location at the mouth of Cedar Creek that we have been monitoring for about 5 years now. It also has an excellent stream quality score based on the stream insects found there,” she said.

DeMull explained that there are other things outside of the water that can also affect stream quality. “Cedar Creek has the cold groundwater and stream habitats to support a diversity of insects, but the land use around the stream has a lot to do with the kinds of insects you will find at a site. As an example, if we sample in a location where all of the trees are cut down and there is no shade (warming up the water) or if there is a lot of erosion on the banks (covering up the gravel with sand) the stream quality score might be lower.”

She said that they will continue to work with Creative Technologies Academy to work on Cedar Creek. “Something that Trout Unlimited is certainly interested in is having community members become stewards of their home waters,” said DeMull.

Trout Unlimited is still looking for volunteers to help with another stream monitoring event coming up on Saturday, May 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rockford Community Cabin, 220 N. Monroe St. in Rockford. Volunteers will be assigned to a monitoring group with a team leader.  Each group will collect and identify insects from different stream sites in the Rogue River and Bear Creek watersheds. You don’t need any experience with stream insects to participate and all ages are welcome.

What will you need?  Please RSVP to Nichol De Mol at 231-557-6362 or ndemol@tu.org if you would like to attend.  Lunch will be provided for all volunteers. Please bring waders if you have them and dress for the weather conditions.

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