Monday, May 31, 2021

May: Sometimes Green Leads to Improved Water Quality

Beyond the characteristic influx of spring migrants passing through on the wing (see previous post), May was defined by an emphasis on water quality. 

Spring may be historically stubborn to yield new green growth in the marsh, but May's warm temps certainly got the bulrushes going (as evidenced by this dense stand of soft-stem emerging from the Rest Pond -- photo taken 5/50/21. 

One evolving project that we are extremely excited about brings many of our favorite things together: marsh restoration & management, water quality, interactive education, emerging technologies, and functional data collection & analysis. At the invitation of our friends from Toledo Public Schools, we have been asked to host a water quality data collecting buoy that is being developed by an incredibly gifted collection of scientific minds. This unique collaboration was conceived and is being spear-headed by a robotics and software engineer from the NASA Langley Research Center. You can read more about the early development of the project here. We are thrilled to be one of two locations in the country (the second being Yorktown, VA on the Chesapeake Bay) where prototypical equipment has been deployed.

Preliminary testing not only yielded real-time data collection on useful water quality parameters including temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and nitrates, it also provided high school students a glimpse into a wetland world that is often as foreign as outer space. We are flattered to be a part of this team and this worthwhile project, and we are excited that the first iteration prototype yielded enough positive feedback to prompt the development of a second generation. Wetland Buoy 2.0 is currently under development and should be ready to be deployed in the fall. Updates will follow.

Roy delivering real-time water quality data from Standing Rush to the classroom at Toledo Public School's Natural Science Technology Center (NSTC).

New signage marks the newly completed Structure 2 connection between the Main West Marsh (behind the camera) and the Rest Pond (pictured), the management unit where water quality data is being collected.

This open canopy of free-flowing water between the Main West Marsh (behind the camera) and the Rest Pond (top of image) was the primary impetus behind the construction of Structure 2. This dramatically increased exchange of water benefits not just water quality, but also all of the biodiversity (both plants and wildlife) that thrive in these recently restored habitats.

This Eastern Foxsnake (or Fox Snake) neonate (or hatchling) -- a Species of Concern only found in marsh habitats of the Western Basin of Lake Erie in Ohio -- fittingly made its presence known while we were deploying the water quality buoy.

This nearly 5' Eastern Foxsnake specimen (which greeted Roy at the container door to the shop) did a little growing up -- and demonstrates that the species is thriving at Standing Rush.

Another shot of the emerging sea of green, taken in the Rest Pond toward the end of this month.