by Abigail Stocking
Being a naturalist at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center allowed me the privilege of celebrating Creek Week 2005 by sharing the importance of creeks through two interpretative programs. On Saturday, April ___, I led a walk along the Arcade Creek. To start off, we looked at various artifacts from critters that make creeks their home. Participants viewed a beaver skull and fur, raccoon fur and a freeze-dried rattlesnake. Also, to get our ears warmed up for the hike, we listened to bird calls on a portable player. One of our young participants was a birding star as he often was the first to call out the name of the bird whose song we were listening to. Then we headed out to walk along Arcade Creek. We forded the creek at a low area and were able to continue along the creek following the beautiful trail. Although there were houses visible along the way, this trail offers a pleasant escape from the sights and sounds of our modern world. During our walk we identified many different types of native vegetation supported by the creek. Willows, cottonwoods and oaks abounded. We saw how the trees were keeping the banks of the creek intact because of their roots that hold the soil in place. In one clearing along the creek, a Great egret delighted us as it diligently hunted for food from the water.
The following Saturday, I led a hike with a different purpose. On this day, we walked along the Carmichael Creek in Ancil Hoffman Park searching for the little critters that make creeks their home. We started off at the Nature Center looking at examples of aquatic invertebrates from aquariums that we keep up at the Center. Then we went down to the creek to see what we could find. Both children and adults worked together using nets and viewing trays to look at samples of creek life. As collecting is not allowed in Sacramento County parks, this was a special privilege to do this activity on this day. People found small critters like scuds, freshwater clams and water fleas. Everyone seemed to enjoy the hands-on with discovery of creek life.
Through the two activities that I was involved in for Creek Week 2005, I got to help people directly experience creek life and why it’s important to keep our creeks healthy. From tiny invertebrates to lofty trees, all these organisms depend on creeks for their survival. Even just a few short hours admiring the beauty of these places helped illustrate to the participants just how important our creeks are.
This article orginally appeared in our Summer 2005 Newsletter