Bug Kick at Mill Creek Reveals Improving Water Quality
Submitted by Lin Wellford
Members of the Kings River Watershed Partnership invited biologist Sean Saunders, Region 1 Stream Team Facilitator and Coordinator, to conduct a Bug Kick Workshop on Saturday, September 19, 2015 along the small urban waterway that runs down the hill next to the Berryville Community Center.
The watershed partnership was involved in the project of installing weirs and drop pools to slow the flow of water down the steep hillside. Local businessman Jimmy Jones donated both materials and equipment for the site work. Then partnership members and others helped with planting native shrubs and trees beside the stream, under the direction of Joe Scott, head of Berryville Parks and Recreation. This was all done to demonstrate how protecting and naturalizing stream banks helps prevent sedimentation due to erosion.
Bug kicks are a way of inventorying the presence of macro-invertebrates. These types of water bugs can indicate the overall health of a waterway. The group wanted to see if the mitigation project completed several years ago had improved living conditions that allow such creatures to flourish. The Stream Team is an outreach of Arkansas Game and Fish, aimed at raising awareness and educating the public about how to help protect Arkansas water resources.
Sean Saunders' job includes promoting interest in litter clean ups, water testing and bug kicks on state rivers and streams. He also works with farmers and landowners dealing with eroding stream banks. "Sometimes it is as simple as planting vegetation and other times it requires a restoration plan and rock work. If the restoration plan is large enough and the landowner needs financial assistance, we try to help get them additional funding," Saunders explained.
The results of the Mill Creek bug kick were heartening to the participants. Many crawdads were inventoried, along with several different water bugs at larval stage, all indicating improved water quality. Overall, Saunders graded Mill Creek as 'Fair' but conceded that the changing seasons may have impacted the score. He noted that the site had many earmarks of a recovering waterway, including watercress, ample shade and the presence of minnows called darters. Members of the KRWP hope to be able to conduct future bug kicks, and involve area students in learning how the presence of certain bugs in a creek can signal the health of their environment.
For more information visit the Arkansas Stream Team
Mill Creek weirs installed to reduce stream bank erosion near Berryville Community Center.