These past few weeks I have been part of two different groups who go out to collect data on watersheds with the downstream idea of positive impact. I have been part of two different citizen science Stream Teams collecting data on Rattlesnake Creek.
During my time with Stream Team Level Two, we took two different cross sections of the creek in order to measure the creek bed depth. We did this so in the following years we can measure the changes after the dam is removed upstream. David, Aissa and I waded across the creek and setting up a tape for measurement and using a fancy scope (hand level) in order to get a level reading. It took us a good few hours to do so, all the while slipping and sliding under the grey clouds that rolled around the valley.
My second experience with Stream Team Level Two involved taking longitudinal profiles of Rattlesnake Creek beginning about 100 feet downstream from the currently existing dam. David, Joe and I were essentially measuring the gradient of the creek by taking measurements every forty feet. This required us to run a measuring line forty feet from each reading that we took, we measured the depth at the bankfull, the wetted edge and the thalweg. The bankfull is where the water would rest if the creek bed were full, the wetted edge is where the water is currently sitting in the bed and the thalweg is where most of the downstream current is going. So we took each of these measurements and one additional backsight, every forty feet down this creek until we got to our original cross sections. It was slow moving, but it was incredibly beautiful and humbling to witness the experimental process of new research.
My third experience with Stream Team was with Level One. This group is a group of young adults that go to Rattlesnake Creek every Sunday in order to take varying sets of data. This past Sunday we went to a spot 100 feet below the dam in order to collect physical (cross-section, pebble count, velocity, and photo points), chemical (temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen), and bug diversity from the creek. We had eight people and lots of work to accomplish.This time, everyone was stationed in one location with no intention to move. It was so powerful to witness so many people dedicating their free time to citizen science! We rallied on getting things done quickly and sharing responsibilities so we collected all of the data for the day in just around three hours. We were lucky to spend the day in dappled sunshine and a light breeze.
It is really rewarding to be part of a process that is paving the way for citizen science in our country and gain so much experience in the process. It is really easy to sign up to be part of the research. All you have to do is email Aissa Wise who is WEN’s Stream Team Coordinator and come to a training. There will be several trainings over the next season and it is a great way to give back to the community.