Spring 2014 is finally here

After a winter that seemed to last forever, the land lab is finally showing signs of life. Development from last spring is not obvious at first glance but there are a few changes. The stream itself continues to shape the landscape in subtle ways. During periods of low flow last year the flow of water through the cobble riffles was mostly interstitial or subsurface. Now we are seeing more and more riffles maintaining depths that keep some cobble submerged at all times. Also, temporary pools have developed adjacent to the streams that look great for frog and toad reproduction. The students have just completed most of the indoor curriculum and are ready to get to work outside. We are really looking forward to what we will find throughout May.
Some additions made by the students over the winter include hanging bird nesting boxes and mounting a weather station. One of our goals is to provide nesting opportunities for as many native species as possible in the land lab. At this point, blue bird and tree swallow nests are being mounted. We’ll be trying some larger nest boxes in the future as well. We aren’t expecting too much with this goal until we see some of the vegetation grow up in the coming years. Little by little. The weather station is working very well. The station is solar powered and transmits data wirelessly to the receiver in the classroom. We hope to compare weather data with stream and biological data such as bird feeding patterns.
Stay tuned for more timely updates in May as that is our prime season for outdoor education.weather station 2014bird box 2014

temporary pools forming adjacent to stream

temporary pools forming adjacent to stream

Opening up the school year 2013

wet plant assort

a few types of rushes growing on the stream bank in upper flood plain area

misc redEveryone was excited to get back to school and into the land lab this year.  We were especially anxious to see how all of the plant material was doing after more than a year of time to get established.  Its amazing how much has changed since the spring.  Many new types of flowers were visible.  Tons of wetland plants are flourishing along the banks of the stream and in the floodplain.  Most of the trees and shrubs are doing great, including the live stakes.  And most importantly, the area is now about 95% vegetated in some way.  So the biggest erosion threats seem to be behind us for the moment.

In terms of storm water flows, the stream seems to handling everything quite well.  All structures look good and water levels in the pools are pretty consistent.

Over the summer, we began producing a documentary for the project.  All of the key players and agencies will be represented in the video.  We just haven’t seen the final product yet.  A ton of thanks to Kerry Paluscsak, Barb Van Blarcum and all of Hudson Cable for their work on this production.  Can’t wait to see it.
The pics below give a decent idea of what we’re seeing out there now.  They begin at the farthest section down stream and move upstream.

low stream 2

lowest stream section with step pools

mid stream 1

looking upstream through forested wetland section.

 

upper stream 6

Uppermost floodplain area is now vegetated! Lots of plant diversity along banks and in wetter areas of floodplain

upper stream 3

same area as above but looking downstream at water level

 

One year down the road…

Since the last post in March, so much has happened around the stream.  When we tried to envision how the habitat would look after the restoration, we had a whole list of specific things we really wanted to see.  We were all very anxious about what would actually come out of all the work we put in for the last year.  So as Spring rolls along toward Summer, we are witnessing a lot of those indicators that this project is indeed a success.  Here are a few:

-  Students catching macro-invertebrates in the stream.  Nymphs, larvae, snails, etc…

-  Target bird species nesting in the stream corridor.  Mallards, Killdeer, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Yellow Warblers

-  Fish in the stream.  Creek Chubs, Stonerollers, Suckers, Sunfish

- Trees, shrubs and live stakes all budding and putting on growth.  Dogwoods, Willows, Sycamores, Oaks, etc…

-  Students getting busy with water testing, biodiversity studies, stream morphology

Through the winter, it was easy to see that the stream structures were going to do a great job handling all the water.  As I mentioned in previous posts, everything was going according to plan.   But there is something very cool about seeing all the living things becoming active in the spring that really puts the icing on the cake.

Aside from what’s happening outside, we also have had the opportunity to share our success with various groups in the area.  The Cuyahoga Valley regional Council of Governments recognized the project and all of the team member agencies with the John M. Seiberling Award for regional cooperation and resourceful innovation.  We have also been asked to share our experience at the EPA Nonpoint Source Conference this fall in Cleveland.  Our students were very proud to be a part of this project and the recognition meant a lot to them and us.  In fact, the students’ response is the truest measure of success around here.  See pics below and check out the link to the Hudson Hub Times coverage of the project this spring.

 

http://www.hudsonhubtimes.com/news%20local/2013/05/29/students-track-progress-of-stream

 

 

 

 

nymphs May 14 2013

damselfly and mayfly nymphs caught by students

Red-shouldered Hawk photographed by a student in the land lab

Red-shouldered Hawk photographed by a student in the land lab

 

Several Solitary Sandpipers have been in the land lab all spring

Several Solitary Sandpipers have been in the land lab all spring

student work in lower pool 2013

Early morning in the stream

student work near bridge 2013

Stream Day! Team of students conducting HHEI

Group of Students showing off the Seiberling Award

Group of Students showing off the Seiberling Award