Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Second Week with CPW

     September 30th:  Today the goal was to electroshock Henson Creek, a tributary to the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River.  We were going to shock a section of the creek that was about one mile upstream of Lake City.  The idea was to get a general population sample and species composition of the creek, as well as compare the numbers of stocked to wild fish.  We made the journey to the site and continued to get everything set up, once again the individual electrodes, shocking truck, holding well, live well and all the tools to process the trout.  We got everything set up and began to shock the section.  Due to the high river flow from rain the previous days, we once again got shut out.  With higher flows the electrodes voltage had to be increases.  More water makes it difficult to locate the fish, and then once they do receive a shock the high flows take them downstream very quickly. We quickly realized the flows were much to high and once again got shut down.  I have fished this creek for many years, so I was excited to see the fish it had to offer.  So we packed everything up and checked out a couple of other potential shock sites for the next season.
    October 2nd:  Today was the first day of the Kokanee Salmon spawn at the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery.  Blue Mesa holds a landlocked/freshwater species of Kokanee Salmon.  Every fall the fish travel all the way up the Gunnison River and then take a left on the East River where they have a five mile or so journey to the hatchery.  The fish are diverted into holding ponds that are connected to fish runways.  Once the fish are in the runways, they are blocked off from downstream.   Then stations are set up to extract the eggs from the females and the milt from the males.  Some of the fish are not quite ready to spawn, so they are released back into the runways and assessed again in a few days.  Once a female is determined ready to spawn, her eggs are squeezed out into a bowl.  Then a male that is determined ready goes through the same process to extract the milt.  Eggs and milt are mixed, given some fresh water, and then sit for about a minute or so.  This minute or so allows the fertilization to occur.  Then the broken or bad eggs are removed from that individual batch, and poured into a main egg holding bucket.  On this particular day we precess upwards of 500 salmon.  About once a week, 100 salmon are taken as samples once they are spawned out.  These were taken back to Gunnion were the Otolith Bones were extracted.  To my understanding, the otolith bone is an inner ear bone in many fish species.  Once they were extracted we placed the bones in individual packets with the fish's sex, weight and length.  These are sent into a lab where the age of the fish can be determined through growth rings, as well as weight, of the otolith bones. A lot more salmon to go!      

First week as intern with CPW

         September 23rd was my first day as an intern for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  I am working with the head aquatics biologist of the Gunnison office, with the main focus of fisheries management in the Gunnison watershed and surrounding areas.  The fall season is a busy time for the aquatics department, as this is the time of year the rivers are low enough to take population samples and the lakes have began to cool down enough for productive fishing.  I will be working with CPW every tuesday and thursday until I fulfill the required hours for my internship.   There are three main areas I will be working as an intern for CPW; trout population samples on specific streams and rivers in the basin, Kokanne Salmon spawning during their annual run up the Gunnison river, and Lake Trout removal out of Blue Mesa Reservoir.   During the first week, Sept. 23rd and 25th, the main focus was electrofishing.  The tuesday I worked we made our way down to Montrose to meet up with some of the biologist and temporary workers for the Montrose CPW office.  Our goal was to electrofish the lower Gunnison River around the city of Delta.  This was going to be an interesting place to sample mainly because of its location.  It is an area that is sort of between the pristine trout fishing waters of the Black Canyon, and the lower more desert oriented river of the lower Gunnison before the confluence with the Colorado River.  This leads to a wide range of fish species occupying the river, everything from brown and rainbow trout to multiple sucker species and endangered species of the Colorado River Basin.  The main focus was going to be on the sucker population, as many species have crossbreed with others.  The idea was to get a general impression of the species composition, especially the multiple kinds of crossbred sucker fish.  There was also a goal to see if introduced species further down the river had made it up to where we were going to be sampling.  Unfortunately everything did not go as planned.  The objective was to launch two rafts that were to float two miles down the river and set up the fish processing location below a diversion dam.  This is an area where a live well would be set up, then fish would be brought to us and we would identify, measure, weigh and tag certain species.   A jet boat launched at the take out of the section, and was supposed to travel up the river to where we had the station.  Unfortunately the water was off color and lower than expected, leading to the jet boat being unable to make it all the way up to us. The plan was for the jet boat to shock certain stretches, and then bring the fish back up to us at the station to take records of them.  Too bad things didn't go as planned, as I was looking forward to seeing the process and the species of fish that would have been shocked.
          September 25th came around and we headed up to Pitkin where we electroshocked quartz creek.  We shocked two different sites, one above the Pitkin State Fish Hatchery and one below it.  We had four people each with there own electrode, one guy maintaining the power source to the truck, as well as two back up netters, one who was dragging a live well. We walked up the stream all four in a line and shocked all the trout habitat we saw.  Each fish was transferred  into the live well and then placed in a large holding net.  A second pass was done at each site, to net all the fish we missed on the first.  Then all the fish were identified, measured and weighed.  30 one year old brown trout were sampled at each site, meaning the heads were cut off to send into a lab.  The whole purpose of this was to asses if the hatchery was having any impact on whirling disease within Quartz Creek.  I was truly amazed at the amount of fish a small section of stream holds.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

First Weeks Working with the Coal Creek Watershed Coalition

It has been off to a slow and steady start working with the Coal Creek Watershed Coalition (CCWC), located in Crested Butte, CO.  As the beginning of fall has arrived, everyone in the coalition has been busy getting their ducks in a row.  They have been getting Watershed Plans together, analyzing their data from summer sampling events, and preparing for the next CCWC meetings.  I have been given access to their Facebook page and official website.  I have been sharing relevant and local environmental articles and videos on the Facebook page.  So far, they have been very popular with the people who follow the page.  Having this insider look is new to me, it is pretty cool to be able to see all of what is going on in the Gunnison Valley-- dealing with water issues.  As for their official website, I have been updating it and giving it a newer, fresher look compared to how it was before.  Zach Vaughter, my supervisor, shared with me that it has been hard to keep up with the website when everyone is busy doing their own share of work for the coalition, along with whatever obligations they have outside of the coalition.  It brings me joy to know that I am the one who the coalition can rely on when they are too busy to do this task.  I am looking forward to what the CCWC has in store for me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Final Week

Last week was my last week at the internship. I mainly was doing the Lake Michigan route all week so that entailed me getting up at 5 everyday. I also had plenty of resamples that week so it kept me busy for my last week of work. Tuesday I have over 15 beaches I need to go resample all around the North Inland route and as the week kept going on the amount of beaches I need to resample went down. But there were still a large amount all the way up till Thursday. Mainly there were so many is because the day before sampling and after sampling we had a lot of rain. My last day I got to go out on the chain and samples the 10 beaches out there. Im extremely sad that this internship is over.  I enjoyed and learned more then I could have ever imagined. It was sad to say goodbye to all my co workers. But Im so grateful to have been given amazing opportunity.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


This week I had my long inland route which consist of 40 something beaches.  The next day I only had 5 resamples on my route. As I was sampling I realized that some of the beaches that I had done Beach inspections for a couple weeks a go decided to go ahead and put new rafts out that were not there when  I initial did the inspections. A very few had kept with any of the rules of having signs saying no diving or one beach took down its buoys that shows where swimmers are swimming. So that afternoon after sampling I went and called all the head people of the beaches that had made changes and did not obey by the rules and I had to let them know they needed to make the changes ASAP. Tuesday and Wednesday I helped with plant sampling on the Chain which is a hard job because there are so many spots I have to there are over thousands of spots that you need to throw the rack to see where plants are growing. It normal takes 2 to 3 days to finish a whole lake on the chain. I was lucky enough to see a couple new plants that I have not seen in other lakes. I also became really good and bring the boat back on to the trailer and locking it up. On Thursday I did the Lake Michigan run which wasn't bad at all the waves were not as bad as I have seen them before. But I did notice so many people out and about around the beach but I have noticed that is mainly when its a really nice sunny morning. This coming week is my last week. I am very sad about it because I love my job and I love all the new things I am constantly learning and my co-workers I am going to miss dearly. But this week I am mainly doing the Lake Michigan route and then Thursday I am doing the Chain for beach samples. Ill keep you guys posted!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Last week of July

This month has flown by so quickly I can not believe that it is already over. This week my main route was mainly Lake Michigan so I had the early 5 am shift. But its not bad I don't mind being up that early. I get to see the sunrise and its lovely. Monday though we had a very strong wind from the East and with that it brought massive waves I have never seen before. They came crashing down on the beach making it very difficult to collect samples but I managed. Tuesday I was on the Lake Michigan route as well and it was very interesting because the waves were still rough but nothing compared to the day before. But it was really interesting to watch as the days went on the water seemed to become calmer and calmer to the point at some beaches the water looked like glass. But when you look at the beach's  tell a different story you can see all the destruction that the waves caused to the beaches. One of the beaches has really tall sand hills and then roll down to the water but after those waves it looks like a jagged cliff that you have to jump off of to get down to the water. After my route I would go back to the office and fallow up on my beach inspections so keep making calls to people who I hadn't talked to yet and then I would go out and drop off any of the beach display signs for the beaches that needed them. I had one call though that I told the beach manager what I noticed that was missing and the manager became so defensive and kept insuring me that everything was there . It made me laugh though because I was just at there beach the week before it was there. I couldn't understand why this person was trying to argue with me about really safety precautions. Isn't it the beach managers responsibility to keep everyone safe? But I was able to tell the manager that I wanted to see the changes with in my next route so hopefully they will get on that. Then today myself another intern and a full time lakes management went out on the Chain O Lakes and collected beach samples along with hab samples and we also did beach inspections that took us a little longer but we were able to get it all done in a timely fashion. Most of the beaches did well but just a couple that needed some things added. So next week ill probably give those beach managers a call and let them know what they need to fix. After beach samples I went on the same lake with another intern and we did plant sampling and identifications for the rest of the day. We had pretty much all lotus and pond lilies  around us. With the identification of the plants it helps us have a better idea of what plants are in the water and what are invasive plants we have and from there we can make a plant map and it can be usefully later one. I really enjoy all of the different things I am learning in this internship and I also like how I am constantly doing something different.   I have swim cast downloading this weekend so we will see how the lakes are doing this weekend and ill enter all the data into the website.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

THE week of July 21st

Sorry this is a little late in the week its just been a busy week. So this week I had my long route where I go to 37 plus beaches in one day and collect water samples and Hab samples. We haven't had much rain so I wasn't to sure how many resamples we would have but surprisingly we had 5 which is a lot when there isn't rain helping with the e-coli. Instead of going out on the boat this week I was asked to stay in and fallow up on beach inspections. So the last couple weeks when I would go to the beaches I have a check list of all the regulations the beaches should be enforcing. Most of the beaches did very well but there were a few that just were missing a couple things. So it was my job this week to call the people who are in charge of the beaches and let them know what they are missing and then from there we set up a date that everything should be fixed. The only hard part is getting a hold of the people in charge of each beach because when I call they are normally at work and call me back when im off work so the last week we have been playing a game of phone tag. Also I had a day of entering water quality data into the data base with that I just copy everything from the original paper and enter it into the data base that we have records stored in the computer. The stuff I entered was mainly secci disk how deep it was in the water what color the water was and the temp and surrounding conditions. Also if there were any invasive plants around and what ones and any other ordinary plants that were around. This week I also had the job to make copies of all our Hab samples paper work and write down the time they were taken and by whom and the date. Then I packaged them all up and got them ready to send to the lab that we send them to that will do more of an intense analysis of the Hab samples. I think I counter over  80 samples that we sent out. One of our lakes this last week also had a toxic algae bloom this week is called Microcystins and it can be very toxic because it does not release nitrogen oxide  so it just stays in the water creating and gross green sludge. So we told the beaches that they should advise people not to swim until the bloom dissipates and we needed to keep checking on the lake. Also this week my supervisor and myself went out on a call of geese keep dyeing by a retention pond. We went out and looked that the pond and figured that many young geese would swim in the pond but there are walls all built up around the water so if they are took young they may have troubles flying out of the pond. The business by the pond put a long board going down to the pond to help give them away out but the angle of the board may be to steep for the young geese to get out of. So we just need to advise them to put in a less steep board to it is easier for the younger geese to get out of.  Ill let you know what happens this coming week.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Week of July 14th

This week was a busy week. I did the Lake Michigan route all week which I enjoyed. Its the prettiest route I think. On Monday I took a volunteer out and showed him how we sample the water and put all he data in. I felt bad because my route starts at 5 am and he did not seem to thrilled to be up at that time.  But after a hour or so of being up he didn't seem to mind to much. We haven't had much rain this week which was nice because when it came to  resampling beaches we only had one or two. One of the days after my Lake Michigan route I went out with my boss and did something I haven't done yet. At one of our beaches we have had really high bacteria counts so we started monitoring it everyday instead of once a week and we noticed we were still seeing the bacteria levels were very high. So my boss and I walk all around this river that flows out into the beach area where we are getting high numbers and we walked all around testing different areas of water looking to see  if there is high conductivity. We used a machine that once you covered the bottom it would read the conductivity if the number was above 2 it means it has high counts so we would take samples at these places that had high numbers. One of the places we sampled we found one of the houses washer was hooked up to flow out into the river so that can defiantly account to high numbers and then we fallowed a long stretch going up stream of high numbers and once we got to the end of the river we walked up to  the road and realized there was construction going on the other side of the road. We think there many be sediment drifting into the stream. At this point we contact the city officials to go look into the problem and then if we still have problems we would go back out and keep testing varies areas in the river and try to find a new reason why we are having high levels. When walking all along the river I had to be careful not to get poison ivy on me luckily I didn't get any. But I did get stuck in a hip high mud hole that I needed help getting out of. But over all this week was great I learned new things and got a glimpse of  what I could be doing in my future and I love it. Im constantly learning new things and go out and not doing the same old job. I am so lucky to be apart of such a great internship program!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Water Sampling

I can not believe that its already July my internship is already half way done.  I have learned so much in this pas month Im excited to see what this month will be like. This week I did my big inland route and it seem to take for ever the night before it rained like crazy so when I was doing my route it was so humid all day and muggie. With all the rain it caused us to have many resamples the next day I think we had to do the Lake Michigan route and then go out and do the resamples. This week has been a long one in terms of resamples. I was mainly on the Chain O Lakes doing water quality samples.  With that we go different parts of the lake and test the water and different depth and then take samples and then text it for stuff like how much sulfur and other things that are in the water. This week I was taught to drive the boat and learned to use the water GPS which is very tricky. I also was able to hold and lower down some of our most expensive equipment and with that I lower it at different depth and read off the reading we get then I record them down and then later we enter them into a data base. Once we get all the samples we need we go back to the lab and filter all the water out and then have it sent out to be texted for various things in the water. I also run water through a filter then once the water can not go through the filter anymore I take the filter off the filtration system and wrap it up and label it and set it aside to be sent out. Most of the time the filter is pea green color from the water. Next week Im doing the Lake Michigan route and that's always interesting so we will see how that goes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Week of the 4th of July

So this week is a short week for us because the fourth. But all week we have really bad storms coming through and getting large amounts of rain in such a short amount of time. So this week was full of resampling beaches and closing them for high bacteria counts. A lot of the home associations are made because they wanted to use the beaches for the week of the fourth. So my work has been going back everyday to the beaches that keep having a high count and resampling. One of the beaches I even had to look for pipe that connects this pond to the lake and see if maybe that was causing the high counts. Also with this crazy weather we have had its make Lake Michigan much colder in the North part of the route today I was sampling that route and my feet got so cold in the short amount of time they were in the water. The reason why is the water 48 degrees in some parts. Also a beach that has been under construction for my entire time at my internship just reopened. Its really nice big and great area for swimming the only bad part they all ready have a lot of seagulls gathering on the beach. That can later cause closers if they have to many on the beach. Next week everything goes back to normal I will be doing my long route so Im sure ill have stories to tell after that. Have a good fourth!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Water Samples

This week has been such a busy one, but it has also been a very educating one to add as well. At the beginning of the week I completed my south inland route which is around  40 beaches that I need to go to and collect water samples.  The next day I was told by my supervisor that I needed to go resample 13 of the beaches because they all had a high count for bacteria. As the week went on the number of beaches that needed to be sampled became smaller and smaller. Now we are currently at 3 beaches. What caused such a large number beach closers and resampling is all of the rain we have in the last week and then the hot temps have not helped much. I also experienced plant sampling this week. So we go around to different lakes and go to different spots all along the lake and throw a rack out and drag it then we pull the rack up and from there are able to identify plants. Then from there we are able to create a plant map that will better help us see what kind of plants are growing in the area and to have for future references. I am learning so much with this internship and I am so grateful for all of the opportunities I get to experience .

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Beach Sampling

Another week done. So this last week I have been going and doing a lot of resampling's lately due to all the rain we have had. When we get rain and it changes the direction of waves flowing in Lake Michigan we seem to have a spike in high levels of bacteria that makes it up safe for people to swim. So I go out and resample  beaches that have high levels and we always like to resample it twice just to make sure. I also have had to close down 5 beaches already. With the inland beaches when theres high bacteria levels its due to smaller amount of water and warm temp. so its a great place for bacteria to start growing. Swim cast was last weekend and it was kind of tricky to use but I soon got the hang of it the next day the only down side was I was using a computer that looked like it was from the 90's and it ran like it to. Very Slow! The swim cast gives us so much data like water temp and wind speed and direction and how much sun light we get and when its cloudy and I enter all the data in and it will give me a projection and with that projection it will read out numbers letting me know if its safe for people to swim in. Cant wait to see what next week brings.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Week 3

Another week has gone by. Im really enjoying the internship. I am learning so much in such a little amount of time lately, but I love it! This last week I have been battling bad weather. The weather has made it difficult to sample in and is also making the results on many beaches along Lake Michigan very high for bacteria. Most beaches are on advisory's or have been closed till the levels drop. I have also been switching up what I have been doing the last week we new routines. I have been going out and sampling along the Chain O Lakes with a fellow co-worker. What we do out on the chain is take samples from three different locations on the water and take different samples from different water levels some are right at the top of the water level or some are at the bottom. Let me tell you the bottom of a lake smells bad. It reminds me of the sulfur from hot springs. But the last two days were good the only bad thing was it was raining the entire time. My new project I start is also going through a check list of proto call that each beach should have. For examples regulations posted and life rings around the beach. So its my job to go through the list to make sure each beach is up to code with everything they need to have a safe beach and meet all the state requirements. This weekend I will be downloading data from our two swim cast and updating the local web site. Wish me luck on that Im nervous but I think I will be able to get the hang of it. Ill let you know how it goes in nexts weeks post. Have a good weekend everyone.
Casey Mullett

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week 2 of Beach Sampling

Hey guys my second week has already gone by. There is still a lot to learn. But this last week I mainly sampled beaches on the Lake Michigan route. This route doesn't have as many beaches compared to the some of the inland routes. But what I really enjoy about this route is that the water is much cleaner then some of the inland beaches. But much colder so on the early 5 AM mornings its pretty cold to walk into to get my water samples. I a good thing about being up this early is the amazing sun rises that I get to see. I had to do a resample for one of the inland beaches today. This beach is really well known for being shut down. Its so small and doesn't have any moving water. This is a good example of a lake/ pound that has a better chance of being shut down for bacteria. When I first walk up to the beach I couldn't help but notice all the green alga. But the water was a really blue color. When I brought the samples into the lab I asked the lab tecs. and they said its because some lakes are died a blue color to make them look more inviting. I couldn't believe it. Lake associations go out of there way to make there lakes looks nicer to get more people to go into them. I just found it very interesting because they are probably polluting the lake more then it needs to be. Ill let you guys know how my third week goes. I have to down load the swim cast this weekend or the next and I will let you guys know how that goes.
Casey Mullett

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Beach Water Sampling First Week Casey Mullett

Hey guys first week of beach water sampling is done. I really like it and I get to see so much. I am sampling beaches in the Lake County area of Illinois. There are four main routes that myself and the other intern get to sample. There is the inland route which is mainly the North route and the South Inland route as you can guess the South part of the county. Then on of my favorites which is along Lake Michigan. The views in the morning from that route are the best. I get up so early as im sampling I get to see the sunrise. My main job is to collect samples from each beach two per beach and then take air and water temp and report if any animals are at the beach. Then I take the samples back to the lab. From there we test for e-coli in the water. If there is over 235 e-coli counted per sample then we need to inform the beach owners that they need to shut down. I haven't had any beaches that have had to be shut down yet. But Im sure through out the season there will be a couple beaches that will be shut down. Maybe this next week we will have a closure. Ill keep you posted.