By: Charley Boonstra
Indian Creek is a special place for HRV. Within feet from a single classroom, one can travel to a separate universe. Indian Creek is surrounded by a variety of trees ranging from Red Osier Dogwood and Cottonwood to tall Douglas Firs. The creek is filled with a biodiversity of species and macroinvertebrates. Crawdads and mayflies make their home within the ecosystem of Indian Creek. If you listen carefully, you can hear the sounds of chirping birds and rustling leaves. It is truly a magical place so close to our school. This creek that many of us have loved for years is a changing place. Because of climate change, much of the ecosystem and interconnectedness of Indian Creek is in jeopardy.
Joe Kelly is a Biology and Ecology teacher who has been working at HRV for fourteen years. He has been taking students down to the creek for most of that time. In fact, the curriculum for working by Indian Creek has been in place since the 1990’s. Students who take ecology spend the first quarter of the year working to test water quality and vegetation biodiversity. Kelly stated that the creek “is fed by springs. This makes [Indian Creek] more susceptible to groundwater removal which could potentially dry up those springs. If we get less snowfall and more rain, that would mean that Indian Creek would have higher temperatures that could potentially endanger the cutthroat trout population”.
Because Indian Creek is such a delicate ecosystem, the impact of human activity is large. The snowfall this year has been at a record low. The impacts of the low water level may not be seen in Indian Creek just yet, but there is no doubt that we will begin to see it in the future. There is also noticeable development in the surrounding areas of Indian Creek which can lead to erosion and water pollution from runoff. One way to measure the changes in Indian Creek is to study macroinvertebrates that live in the water. They are a strong indicator of environmental changes because many of them can only tolerate a small variability in conditions. The current measure of macroinvertebrates shows that the creek is relatively healthy, yet it has not been as cold as it optimally would be.
Although there are bound to be a multitude of changes to Indian Creek now and in the future, there are also people doing important actions to help make Indian Creek more resilient to warmer years with less snowfall. Kelly mentioned that his classes have “been working to restore native vegetation”. Many classes have been doing bits of work around the stream to maintain a stable bank and to reduce the number of invasive and non-native plant species. It is true that these actions may not cure the dire world predicament. However, if no actions are taken, than no progress will be made. Students and community members can all take part in caring for the special place that is Indian Creek.