It was a race against the clock because the net started to freeze after about thirty minutes. Which meant we had to keep everything wet with a steady stream of water so things didn't die or freeze to the net. We had a hard time convincing some of the common net spinners to 'let it go" and return to the stream.
Right now, the most common thing in our stream is the net spinner, which we were thrilled to see since only a few months ago we could harldy find any. This time we found a whopping 232 net spinners! The down side is that net spinners are tolerant of imparement, which means they can live in polluted streams.
Overall we had a successful event, despite the freezing temperatures and I am thrilled to report that our stream got a 5 (out of 12 possible points!) In the past the highest score that our stream ever received was a 3, so things are looking up. We are not in the clear yet though because a 5 is still considered unacceptable ecologically.
IF IT'S GETTING BETTER, WHY IS IT NOT ENOUGH?
You might be wondering what's wrong with the stream? In terms of the macro invertebrates we are mainly seeing two different kinds, Net spinners and Midges. Unfortunately both of these little critters don't mind living in sub par conditions. They can tolerate a certain amount of chemicals and low levels of oxygen. Basically, they don't need much to survive. In fact, EVERYTHING we found this time was tolerant of imparement. So that tells us, the stream is not ready to support the animals that need better conditions- YET.
ANY GOOD NEWS?
YES!!! Back in July when we did our stream monitoring, we spent 6 hours, cast 4 nets, and found only 157 organisms. In July, we only found 3 net spinners and no midges. This time we cast only one net, and found a whopping 437 critters!
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
If you want to get your hands dirty, help us do our counts. We usually try to post the events in the spring and summer on the community message boards. Or get certified and monitor the other side of the stream. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/monitoring.htm
If you'd rather help from home, just make small changes around your yard:
- try to use less fertilizers on your lawn or switch to organic instead of using chemicals
- make a rain barrrel
- use eco friendly soaps
- wash your car on the lawn instead of in the driveway
- plant some native flowers (that use less water)