I often tout the idea of getting the kids down to the swimming hole. Let them splash in the creek, and watch the fish and turtles that live in the water and on the shores. Let them flip over rocks and identify some of the larva.
One of the ways biologists determine the quality of water is to check for macroinvertebrates such as May and Stone fly larvae. If the water is too polluted for human consumption, it also will not support the bugs – or the fish that feed on them.
It is similar to how I know the grass around our home does not need fertilizer. Dig anywhere, and the earth is alive with worms. They drill through the dirt like a yard-size tiller, making little aeration tunnels, sucking dirt-waste in one end and expelling fertilizer out the other – castings, worm growers call it. My spouse enjoys mowing her lawn. It does its part, and enjoys growing.
But about the water. A week ago, I had the privilege of watching, and filming, members of the McSherrystown Fish and Game Association and a young fellow from Fairfield High School scoop trout into huge tanks on the backs of pickup trucks and haul them out to some area streams. The fish – 50 Golden Trout, 2,700 Rainbow Trout, 200 Brook Trout, and 1,600 Brown Trout – were received last summer as “fingerlings” from the Huntsdale Culture Station, near Boiling Springs.
Jeremy Whitmore, the young fellow I mentioned, had fed the fish all winter. Spring had arrived and the fish no longer were fingerlings. Some were 16 inches long, others not so much. All were ready to be placed in Marsh, Middle, Toms and Conewago creeks. And the creeks were ready for the new residents.
One of the nice things about living in Adams County, Pennsylvania is most of our surface water supply starts here and flows out of the county. That means it is not, generally speaking, polluted by heavy industries pouring chemicals into the water.
I was raised about 30 miles from a paper mill. If the wind was from the south, I could sometimes smell from my house the chemicals being poured into the river. To look out over the river was to gaze upon a sheet of sulfurous foam as far up or downstream as one could see. (The foam was upstream because there was another paper mill farther up.)
In the days before people, the water ran clear, and supply was so plentiful our ancestors thought it never would run out. Alas, the mills could pump out their effluent faster than the river could carry it to the ocean. We are fortunate nearby to my current abode that clean surface water has not run out. All it takes is an overturned oil truck or a fire in a chemical factory.
Many municipalities already have discovered the cost of contracting with an industrial-size supplier – the cost of not caring for our water now. Later, we can complain about the cost, but it is more than a little too late. Our offspring will not know what has disappeared until they begin paying monthly bills to companies that will charge what they can to replace it.
Here is a suggestion – Get permission from a landowner and take a kid fishing. Let him or her wade in the water. Treat the land as you would your own – and take any trash home with you.
It is a fluid essential to life, and the more our kids know about it, the more they will want to protect it. They will thank us for the opportunity.
Here is a look at stocking trout in Adams County creeks: