Summer Research on Silver Creek
As part of an elaborate effort to survey the health of riparian zones throughout the Green Lake watershed, Ricardo Jaimes, a Ripon College student and Green Lake Association intern, spent his summer months walking every single mile of stream on Silver Creek.
With a pair of waders, a sturdy clipboard, and a water clarity secchi tube, Jaimes and Green Lake County Land Conservation Department intern Jordan Dornfeld, investigated 500 points along Silver Creek. Together, they analyzed the level of erosion, width, vegetation, tree/shade and invasive species present at each point.
Jaimes recognizes the importance of a healthy stream system and, more specifically, the necessity of healthy riparian zones. “The vegetation and trees that make up a riparian zone absorb phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrients. Riparian zones filter out excess nutrients and chemicals before they enter a body of water,” said Jaimes.
Originally from Elgin, Illinois, Jaimes is a junior at Ripon College pursuing a double major in Environmental and Religious Studies. To him, this project was both academically and personally fulfilling. “As a child, I never experienced or was connected with the natural world as I have been here in Wisconsin. I think it’s our duty to conserve natural resources because we all depend on them,” said Jaimes.
The Silver Creek stream survey was a collaborative effort between the GLA, Ripon College, the Fond du Lac County and Green Lake County Land and Water Conservation Departments, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources. Jaimes’ work was made possible because of a Great Lakes Internship Grant and the McNair Scholars program through Ripon College.
Silver Creek’s inventory is part of a larger effort to map all the tributaries within the Green Lake watershed in order to identify problematic areas for future restoration projects.
For Jaimes, one of the most rewarding aspects of his internship was working as part of a bigger collaboration. Jaimes added, “I got to work with a variety of great people who share a similar passion to conserve our natural resources.”
In the future, Jaimes hopes to utilize data collected from the stream survey in his senior seminar project to measure how effective riparian zones along Silver Creek filter out nutrients.