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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Tryon Creek State Park, Portland, Oregon, USA

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Tryon Creek State Park, Portland, Oregon, USA
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Registered: May 2011
City/Town/Province: Portland
Posts: 1
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Being raised in Portland, Oregon, a lot of focus is devoted to the environment. Portland is a progressive city with some of the country's nicest parks, recycling programs, and water. Children here are raised in the lush Willamette Valley, spending their weekends in the booming forests and rivers surrounded by sparkling mountains. Every student knows that Portland is well taken care of.
In my environmental science class at school, we began studying about the various aspects of streams - temperature, pH, acidity - simple factors that can make a body of water either healthy or unhealthy. It amazed me how a few key pieces of information could dictate whether a stream was clean and full of life, or murky and uninhabitable. Teaming up with a group of friends, we made several excursions down to a local park to research what our watersheds were like.
My friends and I, borrowing equipment from our science teacher, tested an easily-accessible spot in Tryon Creek for every piece of information that could affect our ecosystem: temperature of the air and water, flow rate, conductivity, turbidity, pH, and dissolved oxygen. We also hunted for and identified nearby plants and animals to see if they could tell us more about the type of area. After testing the same area many times, our group hoped that these tests could not only tell us if the stream was good for organisms to live in, but also about the community surrounding the area and whether the three environmental themes of sustainability, stewardship, and sound science were represented.
After our tests, we came to the conclusion that Tryon Creek's water was of fairly good quality, but with some pollution, just as you might expect in a big city. The animals that we found were a tell-tale sign of how healthy the creek was, and we were able to match up our scientific tests to how well the bugs were thriving. The macro invertebrates we found, such as the American Grannom Caddis fly, the Green Rock Worm Caddis fly, and the Prong Gill Mayfly, are all highly sensitive to pollution, meaning that they are surviving very well in Tryon and that our water has little pollution. Our tests showed that the levels of dissolved oxygen in our stream (from 6.4 to 7.9 ppm) are healthy and are close to the prime levels of dissolved oxygen for macro invertebrates to thrive in (ideal levels are 7 to 9 ppm.) When testing pH, we knew that the levels we wanted needed to be between 5.5 and 7.5 - not too acidic, not too basic. Our pH data ranged from 5.48 to 6.85, explaining the presence of the sensitive bugs. In addition, the temperature of the water remained reasonably low, causing more oxygen to be dissolved. All of our test results pointed to healthy, diverse stream life and community involvement in environmental stewardship. We weren't naïve, though, to how our results might have been different if we had tested in the summer rather than the winter. It was important for us to acknowledge the fluctuations in fertilizer runoff levels and how the warmer months might cause a sudden increase in chemicals in the water. Overall, we decided that even through some chemical fluctuations, the sensitive bugs needed for a healthy stream kept coming back. We determined the stream very well-off.
My friends and I wanted to inform people of our findings and see if we could get more kids interested in the kind of work we were doing. It was clear to me that every kid spends time in Portland parks, but was anybody really stopping to wonder what was going on beneath the surface? Had any other kids wondered whether Portland really was taking care of their city, or whether it was just a myth? We took our results to my sister's middle school and shared our findings with the class. My hope was that the children became inspired to be more aware of their environment and how the littlest things could affect the quality of where we live. The project started as a simple experiment to see what the local creek was like, but it turned into so much more - not just a lesson for the five of us and a classroom of middle schoolers, but a truly fun adventure in the absolutely gorgeous area that we live in. I recommend that every person go out and rediscover what their parks and their city are really like.
Date: May 12, 2011 Views: 6219 File size: 25.1kb, 1465.5kb : 1536 x 2048
Hours Volunteered: 50
Volunteers: 5
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 18 to 19
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