Contrary to the more common way of fishing ‘hook, line, sinker’, there is electro-fishing! Electro-fishing is a method used for scientific surveys of fish populations. Using direct current electricity you can create an electric field that stuns nearby fish. This makes it incredibly easy to net them. Once they’re netted you store them in the live well while you continue your survey, in which time they usually start to come back to normal.
When you’re finished collecting fish in your survey area then you can start to identify them. You keep track of the different types of species found and how many. Depending on the fish size, they may also be weighed and measured.
Knowing what types of fish are there and in what abundance really helps to inform you on water quality. Fish that are more reliant on clean water and are pollutant sensitive are a good sign. While having a profound amount of pollutant tolerant fish might mean higher pollution in the water.
These waterways are vital to the ecosystem, as are the fish that live in it, so these surveys really help to give us a good idea of the good and bad changes that’re happening in that environment.
“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”, Franklin D. Roosevelt. I think this is a great quote because it reflects the difficulty our society and world has as a whole for building a promising future for the upcoming generations. There are a lot of areas in which we aren’t leaving much for them, but if we can build them, then they’ll be ready for what’s ahead and whatever we do, or fail to leave them. Recently I was given the opportunity to work with a high school youth group who came to the park as ACE interns for a couple weeks. My ranger and I did a variety of different things with them. We did a lot of work with pollinators in an attempt to really show their importance.
We took them to a beautiful area that’s commonly used for sledding during the winter months, but is great during spring and summer seasons for pollinators! This is where we did our bee survey. During this survey the students were taught two different methods of safely catching bees in order for them to be identified. They had a super great time with this and were netting bees left and right. Although we didn’t find any rare bees, it was great to see how quickly they learned the more common species, and could tell it’s sex. We did find a beautiful female monarch though! Don’t worry, we let it go within 15 seconds, just long enough to determine its sex and snap a photo.
Along with bees, we also taught them about butterflies. We went over the most common species around here and took them out to Indigo Lake where we have a transect and did a survey. Just like with the bees they caught on super quickly and were able to identify a lot of them on the spot. On this survey we caught a beautiful Red Spotted Purple, which I hadn’t seen yet this summer!
Water quality was next on the agenda. We took them to the bridge where we sample from and had them take two samples. We then had them read and record the gauge data, and headed back to the office to run the tests. They all got to test for turbidity, total coliforms and E. Coli. Because we have a huge river running through the park water quality is very important to this area, and it has come a long way! The science of water was something they got to learn and can add to a resume! To finish out their time here they were able to jump onto the junior ranger paddling program, which I was fortunate to be able to assist with. This gave them a fun send off, as well as a new perspective of the environment, since views from the water are a lot different than views from land. During these events there was a videographer from Colorado State University here filming for a web series with the NPS about youth in the environment! Hearing his stories about programs in other parks was super cool, and I can’t wait to see our episode! Working with these kids for even the short time I did was great and enjoyable. These younger kids truly are the future, and getting them involved in the environment, taking them outdoors, and showing them some of the science behind it is always an incredible opportunity. Educating the youth for the future is one of the best things we can do!
“Sweeper river left”, “strainer river right” these are common phrases you’ll most likely here when going down a river, whether kayaking, canoeing or even tubing. Sweepers and strainers are two main things you want to be aware of and avoid. Sweepers are things, usually trees, that hang over the river near the banks and can sweep you off your boat if big enough, and hit with enough force. Strainers are harder to see and sometimes more dangerous. These are hidden underwater and they’re usually downed branches, where the water can go through them, but you can’t. It’s easy to get pinned against these with the downstream flow keeping you there, so as you go float down river its good to keep an eye out for strange water features and sweepers hanging around.
For this kayak trip we went from Lock 29 to Boston Store, which seems to be the most popular trip by visitors. It was a little over two miles and took us under an hour and a half to do. It was a relatively easy stretch of river and could be done by beginners. The water flow was around 400 cfs, which is relatively slow for this river, although it could get into the thousands, and its been as low as 200. There are a few patches of white water but they’re easy to navigate, especially when you have a good guide in front of you.
I took two GoPros out with me to record that stretch of river. Most of that video will be used in presentations about the river, regarding a future designated water trail!
National Parks are incredible areas where we’re able to preserve these beautiful environments and continue them sustainably, with as little impact as possible even with the public and recreational activities going on. While this may sound to some like an easy task of just putting aside some land and not doing anything too damaging, it takes a lot of work and management from devoted people. During my stay here at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park my role in that is taking water samples and testing them. This helps us to see bacteria levels in the water, and convey this to the public who are increasingly interested. I’ve also been helping out with butterfly counts, which is something this park has been doing for the past ten plus years, to help monitor the numbers of butterflies and their species.
Recently I helped one of the environmental protection specialists when she went out in the field to check on some sites here on the park. Most of the time we walked through a creek which got pretty deep at times, to get to the different spots, so it’s a good thing we wore our waders! We went to six different locations where we monitored the ground water and the creek water levels. This was pretty cool to do because I got to see different parts of the park that I wasn’t able to yet, and it was definitely off the beaten path which was fun!
When we were measuring the stream levels we used the gauge (left photo) that was in the water. At this site we can see the stream was measuring roughly one foot and seven inches high. When measuring the ground water levels we used the dipmeter (right photo). This measuring tool has a water sensitive tip, so that when it touches water it emits a high pitch noise, that way we know its reached the ground water and we’re able to measure it’s height. All of this is in an effort to keep track of this area’s water levels and their quality, which is all a part of the Environmental Management System (EMS) plan for the park. Without monitoring our environment and making sure we follow safe practices and act sustainably, there wouldn’t be a good environment for our national parks. So, while its great to go and camp in these areas, kayak, bike, etc…, we’ve got to remember to try and practice the “leave no trace” so that our environment is here for future visitors to enjoy the same way!
During my time here at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park I will be helping to get the Cuyahoga River designated as an official national water trail, which is defined as a recreational route along a lake, river, canal or bay specifically designated for people using small boats like kayaks, canoes or SUPs. Obviously during my short stay here the designation won’t happen, but I will be gathering information on things like user counts, access points for the river, and water quality, and organizing it into useful data. At the park we have three main “unofficial” access points that people use to get onto the river. The Cuyahoga River is roughly 104 miles long, and 22 of those miles go through the park. Which means getting this river designated as an official national water trail is a group effort between the park and other groups along the river. So far I’ve really been focusing on these, and trying to find other ones within the park.
But this week I was able to go view other access points on the river that are within the watershed. We took pictures and completed site evaluation forms for the four access points we visited in the neighboring county. It was pretty cool to go and visit other access points along the river and know that all the information I’m gathering and helping to organize is going towards this super awesome goal of a national water trail!
Standing tall as one of nation’s most prominant symbols, is the bald eagle. While this bird has been delisted as an endangered species, it is still in a federal monitoring stage. Here at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park visitors and employees who have been around for atleast the past ten years have gotten a chance to see these beautiful creatures in person. Since 2007 a pair of bald eagles have lived here in the Northern end of the park. Since that time they have produced 14 eaglets. In February of this year the eggs of the 13th and 14th ones were layed, and by late march they were hatched. Since around the time of the eggs being layed this section of the park has been closed off to visitors, to give the parenting eagles and newborns a less stressful environment.
This past week I was able to acompany my ranger to this closed off section to try and view the young eagles, and see if they were now flying well enough for us to be able to open the section back up. Although we didn’t see all four of the eagles we were fortunate enough to see what we believe was the adult male eagle, and a young one. We were able to see it fly and judge that it would be safe to open the section back up so visitors could come in for a personal look! These birds are beautiful to see and its an incredibly opportunity to have.
Another successful week at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park! This week we focused on river user counts through cameras, and trail monitors. I got to go out and learn how to switch SD cards in the three cameras we have set up, and how to format them. The three cameras are set up pointing towards the river. These are set in place so we can get an idea of how many people are using the river and for what. People go down the river in kayaks, canoes, floats and even some SUPs (stand up paddle boards).
Additionally we put up some infrared trail counters. These were put on little trails that are put ins, or take outs for people using the river. These don’t take pictures but help to give us a rough idea of how many people are going down these paths to the river, and at what times are most popular. With the information from these cameras and infrared counters we can use it create better water trails, and access points!
Hey everyone I’m Christian Heggie and this summer through the Greening Youth Foundation and Mosaics in Science Diversity Internship Program, I’m heading up north!
My internship will be at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in northeast Ohio. I will be working as a river technician assistant, helping to plot access points, map river trails, test water quality, and more! I am a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainability. I’ve always loved to be outside and dream of one day hopefully working on a national park. This is an incredible opportunity and I’m ready to learn as much as I can!
With the first work week down I’ve already begun learning a lot and have already had the opportunity to do great things. As a river technician assistant here at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, life really is better on the river. After finishing a week of training I finally got to get into the field. Taking water samples was the first thing on the list. Going to a bridge in the section known as Jaite we gathered water samples, then walked to a nearby water gauges to note its recordings. Back in the lab we tested for turbidity and E. Coli. I was also able to join a group on a butterfly counting hike, which is a project the park has been tracking for over ten years!
Along with these things I was able to participate in kayak training, which was followed up by a kayaking test in the river. I did a number of different maneuvers and paddled up, and down stream. The test went well and I easily passed! Nearing the end of the week I was able to attend a very important water trails meeting with different people who play vital roles in the whole northeast Ohio watershed! I learned a great amount about this regions watershed and the work that’s already been done for it, and the progress that still has to be made! I’m super excited for all the work I will be doing within the next handful of weeks on the river and surrounding areas here in this beautiful area for this Cuyahoga Valley National Park!