Scioto Brush Creek Day this Friday


The Friends of Scioto Brush Creek Inc (FoSBC) group is ready to continue their annual tradition of Scioto Brush Creek Day for fifth grade students enrolled in Northwest, and any community member that wants to join in.

The event is sponsored by FoSBC, with partners joining in including ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft, Division of Wildlife, Division of Natural Areas & Preserves Scenic Rivers, and Adams Soil & Water Conservation District.

They’ll guide participants through educational stations set up at the Otway Covered Bridge Park. The stations include six educational resource stops for youth to learn from.

“It’s very important, because Scioto Brush Creek is one of the best streams with the highest quality in the state of Ohio,” FoSBC’s Jody McCallister said. “What we’re trying to do, with the Friends, is that it doesn’t get to the degraded point where we have to put millions of dollars into the stream. For example, the mining problems they have in southeastern Ohio. They’re spending millions of dollars to bring their creeks back. Scioto Brush Creek is where it needs to be; it’s pristine. We’re trying to get the locals to understand how important water quality is and not let it degrade. We think the best way to do that is with the kids near the stream.”

Fish Ecology and electroshocking: Division of Wildlife fisheries biologists will use high tech equipment to safely collect native fish from Scioto Brush Creek at the Otway Covered Bridge. Giving students and the public an up-close and personal view of at least 20 species, of the 89 species of fish, that live in the creek.

Stream Quality Monitoring: Natural Areas and Preserves Scenic Rivers staff members will assist students with putting on wading boots and entering the creek to collect macroinvertebrates, for example, water pennies, mayfly, dragonfly, and stonefly larva as well as the impressive “hellgrammite” the larval form of the dobsonfly. This species help citizen scientists to determine the water quality of the stream. Some species, such as the water penny, are very intolerant of pollution and would be one of the first species to disappear in a poor water quality situation.

“By sampling the number of species and individual macroinvertebrates in the stream and using a mathematical formula the students can determine the water quality of the stream,” McAllister explained. “Sounds really ‘sciency’ but the students love it.”

Stream Hydrology and Model: Adams Soil & Water Conservation sets up a stream table model and discuss with the students how a stream flows, twists, bends and yes even erodes the banks, and how this affects not only the watershed but human activities such as agriculture or home building as wells. Students are then given the opportunity to place a “model home”, “trees”, and “rocks” along the streams banks to try and stabilize the stream bank and have a safe home.

“It’s very eye opening for the students when the water flow is turned on after the set up their homes where they think they are safe,” McAllister said. “Every session, a few homes are washed away.”

Water Safety: Watercraft officers teach the students techniques they can employ if they are ever by a body of water and some needs assistance. Simple ideas such as tossing them a ball that floats to keep the person in distress above water until help can arrive. Officers also teach students what it is like to be impaired by having students put on a special pair of goggles that impairs their physical abilities to toss a life preserver to a drowning victim for example. Students really get the feel for impairment when they toss a life preserver to a struggling classmate and it lands no where near the victim. Students also get to explore a watercraft vessel.

Wildlife of the Watershed: Shawnee State Park naturalist brings examples of live and model watershed wildlife and teaches about the special adaptations these critters have to survive in the watershed. Good water quality is imperative to some species such as the endangered Eastern hellbender, North America’s largest salamander, that lives in Scioto Brush Creek. This large, up to 27 inches long, salamander needs clean water as it breaths through its wrinkly skin.

Muskies and Minnows: A FoSBC volunteer leads this fun, predator prey activity. This activity is a game of tag, where each classroom of students is turned into a food chain. A few are muskies (predators) the rest are minnows (prey). The minnows have to “eat” enough “fishing worms” to survive while avoiding being “eaten” by the muskies. They play several rounds and human limiting factors are added each round that lessons the chances that the food chain will stay intact.

“This is lots of fun for the students and gets a valuable point across,” McAllister said. “Humans can seriously impact the water quality and in turn the survival of the natural food chain and wildlife species.”

Scioto Brush Creek Day is Friday, September 22, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Otway Covered Bridge Park. Guests are encouraged to bring a packed lunch.

“This is one of our core events and days,” McCallister said. “It is truly one of my favorite days of the year, because it is so amazing.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

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