How does the San Lorenzo River change as it flows towards the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary?
This is the very question students participating in the Watershed Rangers after-school program at San Lorenzo Valley Middle School investigated at three sites along the San Lorenzo River: Fall Creek, upper San Lorenzo River in Henry Cowell State Park and lower San Lorenzo River adjacent to San Lorenzo Park. To answer this question, students observed and documented evidence of human disturbance on the watershed, which can affect the health of the river and water quality for human use. Students collected advanced water quality data and created illustrations at each site visit to use as evidence for how the river changes over its course.
Watershed Rangers used the data and information gathered from their three visits in the field to compare and contrast how the San Lorenzo River changes as it flows towards the bay. Students observed erosion and human development as the greatest human impact on the watershed and noticed that the river was generally free of human disturbance in the mountains and forests, but that there is more disturbance when there are more people and neighborhoods along the river. We can all be part of the solution to help reduce erosion and advocate for responsible development near rivers. Students researched best management practices so that people like you can be part of the solution to prevent erosion and reduce impacts of human development. Please see below for the Watershed Rangers students’ solutions that you can try:
- Construct buildings and structures farther away from river.
- Engineering septic tank systems to prevent leaks.
- Plant shrubs and bushes near the river to reduce erosion.
- Install microfilters downstream from farms, gardens to help reduce stormwater runoff.
- Participate in a river clean up effort.
- When developing near river be strategic about where pipes are placed.
- Use environmentally friendly building materials.
- Repair and replace broken septic or sewer pipes.
- Designate and create accessible sites along the river appropriate for recreation.
- Plan for impermeable surface such as parking areas and roads to be away from river.
We invite you to be part of the solution! Join us for a River Health Day, learn how you can inspect your sewer lateral line for leaks, contribute to the conversation about responsible development along the San Lorenzo River and recreate along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk.
This after-school program was made possible by a grant from the San Lorenzo Valley Watershed District and would not have been possible with out Rachel Hager, science teacher at San Lorenzo Valley Middle School, who generously gave her time to collaborate with the Coastal Watershed Council and co-lead the after-school program. Thank you Rachel and San Lorenzo Valley Water District!