Science Behind Gore Creek’s Health explores Vail waterway on Thursday, Oct. 12 | VailDaily.com

Science Behind Gore Creek’s Health explores Vail waterway on Thursday, Oct. 12

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Pete Wadden, watershed education coordinator for the town of Vail, checks about a dozen storm water outfill sites along Gore Creek. As a result of rapid development and urban-like density, impervious surfaces funnel polluted water from streets and rooftops into storm drains. The Science Behind Gore Creek's Health event on Thursday, Oct. 12, will be led by Wadden and Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon.

Walking Mountains Science Center is partnering with watershed education coordinator for the town of Vail Pete Wadden to find out on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 6:30 p.m. at Walking Mountains in Avon. Participants will discuss possible strategies to restore riparian ecosystems as well as investigate the very macroinvertebrates that keep a wetland community thriving.

In 2012, Gore Creek was listed as an impaired waterway under the Clean Water Act. The creek was listed not because of high levels of a particular pollutant, but because benthic macroinvertebrates were disappearing from the creek.

Gore Creek's Food Chain

Benthic macroinvertebrates are animals without spines that live all or part of their lives under water. Mayflies, stoneflies, midges, leeches and glass worms are some examples. These macroinvertebrates are a crucial food source for many larger animals including trout, birds, spiders and bats, so they are a critically important part of Gore Creek's food chain.

Their abundance and the types of species that can be found in a creek are also a good indicator of the health of that aquatic ecosystem. When the bugs start to disappear, scientists know something is wrong and other species may soon follow.

Falling macroinvertebrate scores have raised the alarm bells in Vail. As a result of rapid development and urban-like density, impervious surfaces funnel polluted water from streets and rooftops into storm drains and Gore Creek.

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There is less soil and fewer plant roots to aid in filtration and erosion control. The causes are widespread, so solutions have to be, too.

Thursday's event will explore these challenges facing the community's waterway, and find out to play a part in the solution.

Wadden has an M.A. in Environmental Studies from Prescott College and seven years of experience in stream restoration in locations including Maine, Ohio and Colorado. He is an avid boater and angler and feels fortunate that he is able to incorporate his passion for rivers and creeks into his career.

IF YOU GO …

What: The Science Behind Gore Creek’s Health.

When: Thursday, Oct. 12, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Walking Mountains Science Center, Avon.

Cost: Free, with a $5 donation suggested.

More information: RSVP is required at http://www.walkingmountains.org/sb.