This spring the Fort Rock/Silver Lake and Lakeview Soil and Water Conservation Districts have been privileged to have Ellen Hammond, Water Quality Specialist from Oregon Department of Agriculture spend three days in April and May traveling the county to offer a hands on learning experience for the district’s elementary school students.
Ellen’s presentation involves the students in identifying an assortment of water bugs. The students learn where different kinds of fly larvae live in the stream, what they eat and how much pollution they can tolerate.
Many water bugs end up being flying insects such as Stonefly, Mayfly, Mosquitoes, Blackfly, Damselfly and Dragonfly, to name a few. Some of these larvae have gills and need cold, clear water to breath. Other types of aquatic life found in streams include clams, worms, snails, crustaceans and beetles.
Stream health can be determined by the diversity of aquatic life in different parts of the stream.
While pollution tolerant bugs are important as decomposers, it is vital for streams to have clear, cold water to support pollution sensitive insects as well.
Pollution in this context refers to not only toxins but also to, too much mud, water that is too warm and lack of oxygen in the water.
Streams with pollution sensitive, somewhat pollution tolerant and pollution tolerant insect life will support a number of species higher on the food chain such as frogs, snakes, fish and birds.
Ellen emphasized that streamside erosion plays a big part in stream temperature and oxygen content and that researchers use this kind of insect analysis to determine stream health.
Ellen is flexible when giving these presentations. If no stream or creek is available she gives the presentations in the classroom where she has vials of preserved insects for students to identify along with live insects she has managed to extract from streams as she travels to the schools.
When there is a stream in close proximity to the school the classes are able to look for water bugs and consider the health of that particular section of stream.
Schools that participated in this springs presentations were North Lakes Schools 2-5th grades, Solid Rock Christian School K-6th, Paisley’s 4-6 grades, A D Hay’s 5th grade and Union School’s 4-6th grades.
— Submitted Article