About 25 students under the guidance of professors Mark Patterson and Nancy Pullen delivered the results of their June studies of Marsh and Long Island creeks for their Geography 4100 watershed assessment and analysis class last week at the North Fulton Government Annex.
Attending the presentation were city Director of Community Development Angela Parker and Arborist Michael Barnett and Allyson Read, a biologist at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Sandy Springs.
“This class shows people that community engagement is not just reaching out to important organizations in the community but this is actually a class in which we take stuff we talked about and we make it real,” Patterson said. “You actually get dirt underneath your fingernails and you’re able to apply everything that you’ve learned in an academic setting to a real-world setting and it helps a community group.”
The students fanned out in teams to 18 sites, observing the environments, conducting a fish census, collecting water samples and analyzing them for chemical profiles.
While some results may not be surprising — most of the sites suffered from erosion — others were unexpected.
“It looks like a ditch in somebody’s front yard but it’s actually the headwaters for the stream,” Judy Morice said about the beginning of Long Island Creek. “It only gets water during and after a rain. During the investigation, it completely dried up.”
As the creek emptied into the Chattahoochee River at the national park, its condition was significantly altered.
“We collected trash daily at that site,” Craig Brady said.
Trees are in good health, Eric Duncan reported, while Jessica Wilson said they counted and examined fish in Long Island Creek because they are “easier to obtain” and “have longer life histories” than mammals like otters.
“The two most abundant species were the Alabama hog sucker and the red-breasted sunfish,” she said.
“They are considered tolerant species and they can deal with a number of environmental and stream conditions.”
The students analyzed levels of dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, nitrates, phosphates and e coli bacteria in Long Island Creek, which the class also studied in 2011.
“The e coli values were lower but not low enough for swimming,” Jennifer Pramuk said.
On the web