As spring slowly works it way through the ice and snow on the Kenai Peninsula, students at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School continue their monitoring of Slikok Creek. The school has been participating in the Adopt-A-Stream program for the last ten years, and has made many interesting observations.
Each month a sixth grade class goes to the creek and does full biological and chemical monitoring of the stream to help maintain it's health and well being. "We do water quality testing which includes a series of ph and dissolved oxygen turbidity and conductivity and we also do biological testing where we check the microinvertebrates and aquatic insects and we also trap and identify species of juvenile salmon," explained Terri Carter, 6th grade teacher at K-Beach Elementary. Carter has been bringing her classes here for the last four years and says the stream is different each visit, "Every season brings new things, and this year while not at a flood stage, it's been a wet winter and the stream is pushing at it's banks. Last year there was little snow and creek was always low so our readings were different and anytime we consider what we're looking at to measure healthy streams we consider the time of year and the natural conditions that are effecting the readings," said Carter. Bryer, one of Carter's students observed that that while it's a lot of fun coming to the creek, the banks are showing the effects of their walking on the vegetation, "We need to be more mindful of where we're walking so we don't destroy the vegetation," said Bryer.
Julie of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said that while her department doesn't have any active programs to study the streams of the Kenai Watershed, having the data the students provide is a great way to provide an accurate indicator as to the populations of fish in the rivers as well as the quality of water in the stream throughout the whole school year, "We have noticed that even though our stream tends to change a lot through out the seasons that is continually in the healthy category," said Julie. So far Julie added it looks like there should be a good return of fish to the stream this summer.
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