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!
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.
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!