The recent cold snap could not put a chill on Mr. Bill Richardson’s AP Environmental Science class field trip to Welkinweir. The students learned about two keystone species (a species on which other species in an ecosystem largely depend, such that if it were removed the ecosystem would change drastically) the American chestnut and the North American beaver. This plant and animal were extirpated (locally extinct) but are now returning – one (beavers) on their own, the other (American chestnut) through the dedication of scientists.
Led by Green Valleys staff Michael Bullard, Science Coordinator and Kelsey Stanton, Watershed Restoration Specialist, the students hiked the property to see our field research project in cooperation with the American Chestnut Foundation, then around the great pond to observe the work of a pair of resident beaver – their dam, the trees they are taking for food, and their lodge. Mike demonstrated water quality sampling techniques and measurements as well as microbiological testing. Bill worked with students to collect macroinvertebrates, one of the best indicators of water quality, from the stream. Students worked with microscopes and a key to identify the species. Mr. Richardson said, "There is such a wealth of opportunity for eco-education right in their back yard (with Green Valleys Watershed Association). I am glad they can get the experience from a group that really cares about it."