Category Archives: river mentorship

River sampling with Sabrina

Yay! After some rescheduling due to snow, Sabrina and I finally made it to the river.  Casey showed up for a bit and checked in on us and Ronnie came by to tell me that he is getting bees and whenever I want to come over this summer and watch them I can. I also need to pick a day for him to teach me how to fish and show me the fish in the river.

Anyway, Sabrina thought we would start with a river assessment and sampling. Here are some of my notes:

4/26 9-10:45am
Grant Frontier park – Platte river
cloudless blue sky
water temp – 53 F
turbidity – 10 JTU
nitrates- 5
O2 – 3
Ph – 8

Percent of bare earth on banks – 30%

Smell – normal (this means normal Platte river smell, it doesn’t stink, it just has a kind of odor that you know is the Platte)

Items: tagged trees for removal, trash in river, bag of trash near bank, one nosy goose

Bugs gathered in sample: leeches, alderflies, mayflies, stoneflies, blood worms, adult mayfly.

The oxygen was really low, but that could have been because the tablets we used were bad or old. Water temperature was fine, this is a cold water state. We start to get algae problems when the water heats up and the flow is reduced. The oxygen could also have been low because of where I took the sample.


Just looking at the river I did notice some trash and a lot of algae near the banks, trash on the riverbank, exposed bank and the usual smell of the river.

After an hour of sampling and talking about the river we got the bug net out and went into the water. Here we are dragging the net to get some bug samples.


The easiest way to see the bugs is to use an eyedropper or tweezers to take them out of the net and put them in a white ice cube tray with river water in it. This helps you better see the bugs to identify them.


We did not see any caddisflies in their homes, which I really wanted to see. They make a home out of sediment or tiny rocks and live inside of it. I found 2 leeches and if that were the only bug that I found it would mean that the water pollution level was bad. But, mayflies and stoneflies don’t like polluted water, so seeing them means that the water is not too bad for them to live in. Also when we were sorting the insects some of them were wriggling around, this meant that they were running out of oxygen; so after sorting and finding as many different kinds of insects that we could, we dumped the bugs back into the water.

New Goals – I plan on going with some other Girl Scouts to clean up the trash on the banks. I need to meet with Ronnie for fishing and I see Sabrina again on June 7th. I will hopefully have my report ready for Casey soon and see about speaking at the Overland pond park neighborhood meeting. I want to learn more about the bugs we found (and didn’t find) too.


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My river mentorship

So, I had a good time April 5th with Casey from Cherry creek watershed, Mara from Denver water, Sabrina from Riverwatch and Ronnie who is part of the Overland pond park association. They are going to help me with my adopted part of the Platte river by Grant park.


I will be doing river assessments, fishing, bug sampling and learning some hands-on things about marine biology. It might not be studying whales, but it’s a start! Here is Casey helping me with the turbidity sample.


The turbidity test tells me how clear the water is after being swirled around with sediment. You take a sample of river water and pour it into a tube, the shade of color that you see determines the turbidity of the water. My Mom and everyone worked really hard to get this meeting put together and to see who can help me and what I will be doing. Casey is going to provide the water sampling equipment, Ronnie is going to help me fish and get to know the fish in the river, and Sabrina is going to help me with water sampling and bug sampling. Casey wants me to write a paper after Sabrina and I do the first meeting and she asked if I would give a presentation to the Overland pond association about what I am doing.

I am going to write another post about my day with Sabrina.

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