Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

May 10, 2014

MSU, Greenup students collaborate on stream study

LLOYD — Turns out an astonishing number of critters can live in a drainage ditch.

Some science students at Greenup County High School found that out Friday when they trekked out to the field between the football stadium and the school’s entrance road to take water and soil samples from the channel that drains it.

From the gravel and muck they dredged up, the students sorted out dozens of water-borne wigglies — multi-legged hellgrammites, which are the larvae of dobson flies, other, smaller larvae of midges, beetles and black flies, and a multitude of aquatic worms.

The students also found out that what lives in the ditch tells a great deal about the water that runs through it, and by extension about the land it drains.

The field day was a wide-ranging stream study that brought in Morehead State University students to lead segments on water quality, soil identification, land use practices and watershed mapping, among others.

The MSU students, all education majors, got field experience in working with teenagers, which is what most of them will be doing in their professional careers.

“We’re so used to being students that we don’t know how to interact yet on a non-student basis,” said Leighann Switzer, an MSU sophomore from Jessamine County.

Funded by a NASA grant through the Center for Environmental Education at MSU, the exercise was one of many across Kentucky conducted through state and private colleges and universities, said April Haight, director of the center.

It was a day for bare feet and dirty hands. A group of students under the direction of MSU sophomore Katie Combs dug out soil samples from the stream bed and the bank nearby and Combs showed them how to identify it using their hands and a flow chart.

Moistening a chunk and squishing it in their hands, then picking off a fragment and wetting it some more, the students determined by feel whether the sample was smooth or gritty, cohesive or fragmented, and that provided clues about its composition.

Using nets, the students waded into the stream, churned up its sediment and fished out samples they emptied into plastic dishpans.

Using tweezers and their fingers they teased out the animals hiding among the stones and clumps of mud. Some, the midge larvae for instance, were tiny; others such as the hellgrammites, were the size and general shape of centipedes and scuttled away from grasping tweezers.

Once sorted, they filled an assortment of glass vessels that a proficient observer could use to draw conclusions about the health of the stream.

The profusion of worms, for instance, indicates a lack of oxygen, because the worms are tolerant of the lower oxygen levels, Haight said.

Lower oxygen levels, in turn, provide clues about the land that drains into the stream. It could indicate excessive amounts of nutrients entering the water, possibly from fertilizers or septic tanks, she said.

“We’re using procedures that are more advanced than we do in our average classes,” said Greenup senior Strait Taylor. “Learning skills like titration will be useful for furthering my science study,” he said.

The data collected Friday will be recorded and incorporated into a nationwide NASA water quality database, said Greenup biology teacher Justin Stafford. Over time the collective efforts will provide a good picture of local water quality, he said.

Attention to water quality is as important as ever because after several decades of improvement quality has started a downward trend, he said.

 Although many of the most egregious industrial pollution sources — called point-source pollution —  have been identified and controlled, there is a growing concern about non-point-source pollution, he said.

That means pollution from runoff, drainage, seepage and precipitation.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Golden Corral sends children to camp

    Ashland’s Golden Corral teamed with other restaurants across nation this year to raise $1.5 million to send a total of 3,000 children to Camp Corral.
     

    July 24, 2014

  • Burglars steal golf gear

    A couple of golf enthusiasts might not make their tee times Saturday because burglars stole golf equipment from their garages.

    July 24, 2014

  • Music instructor claims age discrimination

    The Russell Independent School District is denying allegations of a former band director who claims in a lawsuit the district discriminated against him because of his age.
     

    July 24, 2014

  • Financial blunder leads to heated board discussion

    In a surprising turn of events, City Manager Ben Bitter’s supervision authority was challenged by the Board of Commissioners after Commissioner Cheryl Spriggs filed a motion to have legal and finance department heads also report to the board in light of a financial blunder by Bitter.
    Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles and City Attorney Richard “Sonny” Martin confirmed a new ordinance will be drafted so the department heads of finance and legal counsel will be checked by the board, in addition to Bitter’s current oversight.

    July 24, 2014

  • Stricter enforcement, diagonal spots endorsed to help downtown

    A group of business owners operating along Winchester Avenue — Ashland’s main thoroughfare — asked the Ashland Board of Commissioners to replace current parallel parking spots with diagonal ones, and also for more strick enforcement of a two-hour parking law.

    July 24, 2014

  • National act takes stage at Boyd County Fair

    The Building of Dreams erupted into screams Thursday night at the 2014 Boyd County Fair, as country music fans saw Bucky Covington take the stage.
    According to Ellen Keaton, fair board president, Covington was a favorite on season five of Fox’s talent competition series American Idol.

    July 24, 2014

  • Smoke-free advocates bound for Ashland

    Advocates for smoke-free public spaces are touring the state, starting in Ashland, to drum up support for anti-tobacco legislation they hope to pass next year.
    Smoke-Free Kentucky is a coalition of organizations and people who support a ban on smoking in all public and work places in Kentucky.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ohio State Band Direc_Mayn.jpg Ohio State marching band chief fired after probe

    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday after determining he ignored a "sexualized" culture of rituals including students being pressured to march in their underwear and participate in sexually themed stunts.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Grimes has pep rally before energetic Democrats

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes was preaching to the Democratic choir Thursday night at the Wendell Ford Dinner attended by about 700 here.

    July 24, 2014

  • Commissioners challenge city manager’s authority

    In a surprising turn of events, City Manager Ben Bitter’s supervision authority was challenged by the Board of Commissioners after Commissioner Cheryl Spriggs filed a motion to have legal and finance department heads also report to the board in light of a financial blunder by Bitter.

    July 24, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone