On Friday June 8, approximately 125 sophomores from Teri Sardinia and Dean Field’s science classes went to Riverside State Park to learn about the area’s natural resources. Stevens County Conservation District has been working with these teachers since February to help make local students aware of their watershed and what is going on in Lake Spokane. While the previous days had been quite stormy, Friday started out cloudy but grew to a very nice day to be out in the area between the Little Spokane and Spokane Rivers.
Students were divided into 5 groups and rotated among the 5 stations established by the Conservation District.
· Forestry: Bart Ausland, Natural Resources Conservation Service forester, told the students of the many characteristics of the forests in this region. He showed them how to estimate the age of young pine trees by counting the number of branch whorls and the effects of pine beetle on forest trees. Bart also talked of fire behavior and how it is important to establish defensible space around our homes.
· Water Quality: Lindsey Holloway of the Stevens County Conservation District (SCCD) took samples from the Spokane River and slow moving channel between the two rivers and discussed the similarities and the differences in the 2 samples. Students learned about dissolved oxygen, stream temperature, pH, and specific conductance. Lindsey told them why all of these parameters are important.
· Riparian Areas: Amanda Parrish, Lands Council, had a station where students learned about vegetation communities and what constitutes a proper functioning streamside area. Amanda had the students establish a transect to identify plants and plant density.
· Aquatic Insects: Angela Klock, SCCD, had students look at live aquatic insects that are commonly found in local streams. She told how different insects have different levels of tolerance to pollution and are therefore good indicators of water quality because they are in the stream 24/7.
· Estimating Streamflow: Jennifer Hickenbottom, U.S. Forest Service hydrologist, helped the students estimate the streamflow in the Little Spokane River. At this station, students tossed apples in the river and recorded the time it took for the apple to travel 75 feet. After 5 or 6 apples, the time was averaged and a velocity in feet per second calculated. Mitch Wallace, Washington Department of Ecology, provided information on the river cross section in square feet, so the students combine this information and estimate the flow in cubic feet per second.
Each of the student groups was accompanied by dedicated parent chaperones; some dedicated enough to attend both the morning and afternoon sessions. The Conservation District has been very pleased with the working relationship with Lakeside High School and these two teachers. SCCD hopes to get additional funding to keep this education effort going in future years.
Article Submitted by Charlie Kessler, Conservation District
In This Photo: Amanda Parrish of the Lands Council teaches Lakeside High School students to measure vegetation in a streamside area.