Bug sampling breaks down the health of Bear Creek

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A local conservation organization is taking it to the creeks to find out just how healthy the streams in the Pikes Peak region are. Every year, members of the Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited hike up to Bear Creek to do macro-invertebrate sampling–commonly known as bug sampling.

“We started the day just by hiking and looking for some good areas where there might be some good bug life,” Becky Leinweber said.

They sample in the fall because insects tend to be larger.

“We got down in the stream,” Leinweber said. “We kicked up the rocks and tried to see how many bugs would float down into a screen.”

They hold the screen into the creek for one minute, stop, and put it back down for another minute.

“Then we came out here and we separated the debris from the bugs and we saved the bugs and those are going to back and get sampled,” said Leinweber.

They’re also sampling the water for things like heavy metals, oxygen, and hardness, and testing the pH levels.

“For example, the stonefly is very sensitive to pollutants, heavy metals, and so if we do not find any stoneflies that’s an indication that there’s some problem,” Allyn Kratz, President of the Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited, said.

They said the bug sample was a little on the thin side this time, probably due to recent flooding.

“The heavy rains have washed a lot of the materials, the leaves and things out of the stream and as a result there’s not a lot of food for insects,” said Kratz.

Lack of space for the plants means lack of food for the insects and fewer bugs makes it harder for fish to survive.

“I’m a fly-fisherman and in order to have healthy fish we have to have healthy bug life,” Leinweber said.

The group said this research is important because the health of the stream impacts everyone who enjoys being outdoors in Colorado.

If you’re interested in getting involved in the Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited, visit their website at www.CMCTU.org.

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