I Don’t Just Survey a Lake

I Don’t Just Survey a Lake

For my last two blog posts I talked about my lake survey, but I do more than just survey a lake. For the most part, I work on the lake survey on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. What am I doing on Mondays and Wednesdays then? Great question! On “Macro Mondays” I survey various stream sites for macroinvertebrates. The macroinvertebrates (both those that are present and those that are not) help to inform the park about the condition of the water as they are bioindicators. My favorite macroinvertebrate is the hellgrammite because they look cool and can be quite massive. Also, a lot of the other macroinvertebrates are quite small and do not lend themselves to photography that well.

The hellgrammites (pointed to in red) are often larger than other macroinvertebrates
Two hellgrammites (the big ones with many legs) up close

It is also fun to get other critters that live in the water, like this fish and salamander.

Every week, the park’s five lakes and pond (Carter’s Pond) are sampled since people can swim in these bodies of water. If a body of water’s E. coli is too high then the lake or pond is closed to swimming. Every other week, I help to sample twelve sites for E. coli, which include the lakes and pond as well as six additional sites. These additional sites include the upper and lower areas of the reclaimed Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine, where Quantico Creek enters and exits the park, and two other areas that the Creek runs through the park, which lead to the lakes. I read the E. coli data on Thursdays (the E. coli needs to cook for 24 hours) and what is cool is that the park’s data goes back decades.

Taking water from Lake 5's dock area to test it for E. coli
Reading the E. coli results. The glowing blue capsules are positive for E. coli
E. coli results from June 2nd. Every site was within safe parameters. Units are CFU/100mL

The Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine upper area site is by far the furthest walk, but it’s a nice walk and it’s fascinating to see the remains of the mine, including the mine shaft markers. The pipe in the middle is the indicator if something has gone wrong with the concrete slab that covers the mine shaft. If the concrete disk at the end of the chain is pulled against the pipe that means the covering has failed. However, as you can see, this concrete disk is still hanging, which means the covering is continuing to hold. The shafts were open until they were covered over during the 1995 reclamation. Maybe I will buy some pyrite from the Visitors’ Center, which sells small pyrite chunks.

Concrete seal status indicator surrounded by mine shaft markers
The pipe which indicates if the concrete seal has been compromised
Mine shaft marker
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