Written by: Katie Holzer, Watershed Scientist for the City of Gresham.
Bugs can tell us a lot about a creek. Which species live there, what they eat, and how sensitive they are to pollution can give us a lot of information about the health of the creek.
We have been studying macroinvertebrate communities (i.e., the “bugs” that live the water) for the past ten years, and we have found some encouraging changes. When we started, most of the sites we studied on the main stem of Johnson Creek showed macroinvertebrate communities which were severely impacted.
Those communities have slowly gotten more diverse with more species that you would expect to find in a healthy watershed. The improvements were highest at sites near large restoration projects. The hard work of planting trees, reducing pollution, treating stormwater, picking up trash, and removing culvert barriers is paying off!