by Jerry Wright

On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, volunteers from Collegiate Peaks Chapter, Trout Unlimited joined volunteers from the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Buena Vista McGinnis Middle School staff at the Buena Vista Youth Conservation Camp in the upper meadow of the Four Mile Creek area.

The day started out bright and sunny, but clouds gathered over Buffalo Peaks in the afternoon, and middle school students were sent scrambling in the late afternoon thunderstorms.

Sixth graders spent the day rotating through multiple stations learning about various conservation issues including water quality. Students put on waders to collect river insects from the creek using stream seines and kicking over rocks. Bugs were collected in buckets then brought back to the insect-identification station. Types of insects were identified using magnifying lenses and then were correlated with the water quality of Four Mile Creek.

Other stations included stream sampling for temperature, ph acidity level and dissolved oxygen. During the course of the day, over 80 sixth graders rotated through the water quality station staffed by TU volunteers Eric Heizel, Jim Impara, Keith Krebs and Jerry Wright.

The kids were surprised by the number of insects they collected in a small stretch of the creek and fascinated by the variety of aquatic life including Stonefly nymphs, Mayfly nymphs, Dobsonfly nymphs, Cranefly larvae and aquatic worms and beetles.

The goal of the day was to educate young people on the value and importance of clean water in the watersheds within the Arkansas Valley. Concepts of stream conservation, protection and restoration were introduced.