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Family BioBlitzes to explore streams

August 31, 2018

Daily Journal staff report

If you are curious about what lies below the surface of area streams, a family-friendly BioBlitz will let you dip your toes into the creek exploration waters.

The Lower Des Plaines Watershed Group will host two BioBlitz activities from 9 to 11 a.m. Sept. 8 — one at the Round Barn Farm in Manhattan, the other at the Runyon Preserve in Lockport.

Members of the public are invited to join the fun and participate in exploration in Jackson Creek at the Manhattan Park District’s Round Barn Farm or Fiddyment Creek in the Runyon Preserve of the Forest Preserve District of Will County.

Nets and other supplies will be provided. Registration is not required for the free, all-ages, family-oriented programs.

Although swimming or wading in preserve and park creeks or lakes is normally prohibited, BioBlitzers will be allowed to wade in the creeks, so participants should wear closed-toe shoes that can get wet.

Monica Rockstroh, watershed education and outreach manager for The Conservation Foundation said the creeks were selected because of habitat observed and the ease of access to the creeks.

Each one is near parking areas and offer easy access, ideal for the family-friendly activities, Rockstroh noted. Also, when Conservation Foundation staff scouted the creeks, they observed many macroinvertebrates — the often unseen underwater life forms that are indicators of the health of streams and that emerge from water to become dragonflies and other fascinating creatures of the air. Conditions will be “ideal for children to find various macroinvertebrates to identify,” she noted.

What kinds of activities will take place?

Participants will be able to walk in the streams to collect macroinvertebrates. They also will be able to use microscopes and ID mats to identify these microscopic creatures. Educational materials and volunteers will be present to teach about the critters that live in and near these streams.

What are you hoping to accomplish during the program?

“Our aim is to educate community members about their local waterways by literally getting their feet wet,” Rockstroh said. “We want to connect children especially with their local rivers and streams, in the hopes that they learn something new. We also hope events like these will encourage children to value and protect local waterways as adults.

“Participants will be able to bring up a bucket of creek finds to our tents, and then, using petri dishes and the mats, they’ll identify what they find in the creek. We also will have a scavenger hunt and other activities for kids, such as a river-themed memory game and native plant coloring sheets.”

Round Barn Farm is on U.S. Route 52 in Manhattan. Runyon Preserve is on Morgan Street, east of Hamilton Street in Lockport

For more information, call Monica Rockstroh at 630-428-4500, ext. 123, or mrockstroh@theconservationfoundation.org.

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