Microscopes for SRT’s “What’s in Your Water?” Campaign

August 11, 2010

Boy tests macroinvertebrates in pond

Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT) just purchased seven microscopes for the Environmental Education program, thanks to a grant from REI. The microscopes have a glass prism that captures light and beams it up into the scope, eliminating the need for electricity and making them perfect for outdoor use.* These microscopes will be instrumental to SRT’s “What’s In Your Water?” campaign to teach kids about water quality issues in our region. The project runs from approximately January through early May (due to water flow). Students from 6th through 12th grades are encouraged to join in the campaign to learn more about their drinking water and what they can do to keep it clean. For more information, email laura@sequoiariverlands.org or call 559-738-0211, ext. 103.

The “What’s in Your Water?” project will take kids out to Dry Creek Preserve (Woodlake/Lemon Cove) and the James K. Herbert Wetland Prairie Preserve (Tulare/Lindsay) to monitor water quality by scooping macroinvertebrates from streams and pools and examining them under microscopes. Each species of macroinvertebrate can tolerate a different level of pollution: some need extremely clean water, and others can live in very polluted water. By tallying up the number of ‘clean’ vs ‘dirty’ species, we can determine an overall pollution level. Additionally, SRT now has chemistry test kits that will allow the students to detect levels of specific pollutants, such as nitrogen and phosphorous. The results of the students’ water quality monitoring projects will be kept on file to help SRT manage its waterways.

It is important that we keep these water systems pollution-free. Clean water helps bolster wildlife populations and it replenishes our aquifers with good, clean water. Visalia gets 100% of its water from wells, which tap into an aquifer fed by rivers and ponds in our area.

Pollutants get into the groundwater when they are pushed down by irrigation or precipitation. Many pollutants come from over-use of pesticides and fertilizers. They also come from leaky gas stations and cars. Nitrogen, in particular, is a very prevalent polluter in this region. In Tulare County, at least 40% of wells contain illegal levels of nitrates. High levels of nitrates cause ‘blue baby syndrome,’ where babies cannot absorb enough oxygen into their blood to breathe properly. It also causes stillbirths and cancer. Nitrates aren’t the only problem, though. There are illegal pollutant levels in 75% of our wells.

*We ordered the microscopes from Acorn Naturalists, an outdoor education materials supplier. The scopes were paid for by a generous grant from REI, the popular outdoor recreation equipment store.

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The Story of Dry Creek Preserve

August 10, 2010

Click on the image below to watch an informative, inspiring 4-minute video on the unique history of Dry Creek Preserve. Also, please donate to the cause! We’re almost to our fundraising goal and we need YOUR support! You can send donations to us at Sequoia Riverlands Trust, 427 S. Garden St., Visalia, CA 93277. Or you can donate online. If you can’t donate at this time, you can help out by getting a friend to join SRT as a member. Have you asked your employer if they offer matching funds for nonprofits that their employees give to? Try it.

Thanks for all that you do for land conservation in our special part of the San Joaquin Valley! You should feel proud of your contributions.

Enjoy the video…


A Testimonial: Landscaping with Native Plants

August 9, 2010

Echium in full bloom with Goldenrod coming up in May

Salvia and poppies in April

“We moved to Visalia in January 2009, went to your plant sale that month and started a native garden area in the backyard, and we love it!  It is gorgeous year round, takes less water, and is self-perpetuating!  I have started incorporating native plants in the front yard beds and throughout the yard, hoping to be ‘lawn-free’ in the next couple of years, and could not be happier with the plants I have bought at your sales.  Right now, my buckwheat is flowering and my goldenrod is over 7 ft tall, and gorgeous!  My native clematis has outgrown its trellis this year and I can’t wait ’til it blooms!  My deer grass is such an ornament and has become a mainstay of my landscaping plans.  And everytime I cut back the salvia, it reblooms. Again, thank you so much, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you and the Sequoia Riverlands Trust as a community resource.”

– Jennifer McGuire

Thank you for your kind words!