For the monitoring of Phase II vegetation we followed past teams’ protocols collecting data along the same 12 transects monitored in previous years. The transects were six meter long straight lines set up perpendicular to Goose Creek. Within subplots we collected data to determine percent cover of native and non-native (both invasive and non-invasive) plant species to assess the quality of the creek at different areas. This gave us a better understanding of how much of Goose Creek is covered in reed-canary grass and invasive blackberry versus native vegetative cover. We then collected data on the size and distribution of trees and shrubs present in the overall 6 x 6 meter plot. This data, compared to 2016’s baseline data, helped us make decisions regarding
re-plantings, management, and future restoration along Goose Creek.
Phase II Monitoring
Stream Temperature Monitoring
To evaluate whether the Riparian Plantings were effectively shading the stream and lowering temperatures, we took two different water temperature surveys. In accordance with the previous team protocols, we took five different thermometer measurements at areas that had been previously designated by the previous year’s ELP team using GPS coordinates. We took these measurements between the hours of 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to reduce the chance of error being introduced due to extraneous factors like varying weather and sunlight. One of the primary goals of this project is to improve the water quality of the stream and lower water temperatures, enticing more aquatic life to come to the area and improving the biodiversity and overall resilience of the ecosystem. Establishing clear methods for evaluating water temperature allows us to confirm whether or not we have successfully reduced stream temperatures at Goose Creek.
To determine the species type and quantity of pollinators visiting the blueberry fields at Whitewater Ranch, we used the ELP Native Pollinators Protocol. Our team conducted two surveys in May 2017 following guidelines from these protocols. For each survey, we followed the same four 60-meter long transects used by past Riparian Restoration teams. Walking along the transects at a pace of three meters per minute, we observed blueberry rows and recorded the pollinators visiting the flowers of blueberry plants. Data collected from these surveys was used in comparison with previous teams’ data to discern what kind of pollinators are visiting Whitewater Ranch and how effective the planted pollinator hedgerow is at attracting native pollinators to the other flowering plants along Goose Creek.
Photopoint monitoring has been an effective strategy employed by the Riparian Restoration team to create a visual representation of the growth of our plantings over time as well as the ongoing revegetation of Goose Creek. By taking photos at a location designated by previous ELP teams using GPS coordinates year by year, one can evaluate the effectiveness of the project as well as easily convey this information to our community partners, funders, and members of the public. We utilized GPS coordinates previously established by the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Riparian Restoration teams, and took our own 2017 photographs to add to the database. Each photo also contained a photopoint identification card that stated the date, site names, and plot numbers for ease of identification.
Phase I Monitoring
To monitor the survival rate of tree and shrub species our team utilized past teams’ protocols. These procedures are used to identify the advancement of certain species and particular planting techniques. Four circular plots are placed along the stream, two plots on each bank, that best represent the diversity of both our plant species and site conditions. Data collected included growth rate, possible plant competition, and damage from wildlife. Each plant was tagged and compared to previous years’ plantings to determine survival, growth, and vigor of each species.
Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey
Certain aquatic macroinvertebrate animal species can be very useful bioindicators in determining the water quality and health of the ecosystem in which they are found. Our team evaluated the health of Goose Creek by surveying specific macroinvertebrate organisms living within the stream, as well as at our reference site, Trout Creek. Two team members waded through two locations along Trout Creek. Another two team members waded through two locations within Goose Creek, one near the culvert and one in an unrestored area of phase II. We captured specimens with a D-net then separated each organism into distinct groups using a dichotomous key. We recorded data through analyzing specific specimens representative of general water quality conditions.
The 2017 Riparian Restoration team had the exciting opportunity to collect baseline data for turtle populations at Goose Creek. The team developed a new protocol and established initial observation points.The first UTM is for the basking log and the second UTM is for the pool it creates downstream. Two team members reached the location and waited in silence for 10 minutes. Then they observed both areas for 20 minutes and recorded any turtle or other macrofauna sightings. They also recorded the weather conditions and the confidence level of their observations. This data will be used to track turtle population trends of the area and as a record of the macrofauna spotted at Goose Creek.