Water quality is an important vital sign for parks health assessment. I was able to participate in water quality monitoring sampling with the Gulf Coast Network (GULN) at two different parks: Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve (JELA) and Big Thicket National Preserve (BITH). In this blog, I will tell you about my experience at JELA.

Joe Maine is the network hydrologist responsible for the methodology and analysis of the long-term water quality monitoring. For more information about our reports and analysis, please go to: “https://science.nature.nps.gov/im/units/guln/monitor/water_quality.cfm.

Whitney Granger, the network data manager, is responsible for the water quality sampling at JELA and BITH. At JELA, we use a boat to navigate through the canals of the Barataria Preserve, The monitoring started in July 2008, and it is measured at five sites: Bayou Bardeaux and Whiskey, Pipeline, Tarpaper and Millaudon Canals.

In the picture below you can see me recording the measurements of the field parameters, air temperature, water temperature, specific conductance (SpC), pH, dissolved oxygen (DO) and turbidity, and flow condition. We also collect water for lab analysis for Escherichia coli (E. coli), nitrate, nitrite and phosphorous.

At the same time as Whitney and I were doing the water quality sampling, Jane Carlson, network ecologist, and William Finney, the field biologist, were doing the amphibian monitoring at JELA. We met for lunch and then we went to the visitor center of JELA to freshen up and do some more work. This was an unusual sample trip, not only we did water quality and amphibian monitoring, but we also investigated new sites to be added on to the amphibian monitoring protocol.

I had a great time being on the boat and enjoying the beautiful views of the Barataria Preserve. I also learn a lot from the assessment we did on the possible new site for the amphibian monitoring. However, the most interesting part of this trip was when Whitney shared an interesting fact with me. In the picture below, you can see a lone cypress tree at the far right, when he was a teenager the marsh went all the way to that tree. If you never heard before, I will tell you now, land loss in Louisiana is a real issue.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s most recent analysis in 2011, Louisiana lost an average of 16.6 square miles of land a year from 1985 to 2010. Louisiana’s land loss involves at least three main factors: reduced sediment flow from the Mississippi River and its tributaries, subsidence, and sea-level rise. This is a very hot and complicated topic, I will not get into details. However, to have someone pointing out these changes in such a visual way, made my jaw drop lower than any published paper have ever done.