LIMA — Many of the city’s children pass by the river every day, without giving it much thought. Monday’s activities with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources were aimed at teaching that it’s a natural resource.
Mother Nature had some teaching of her own in mind, as a sustained rain cut short some activities ODNR and the Ottawa River Coalition had in store for 140 children from the city’s Summer Playground Program and YMCA.
However, the group got in modified versions of a fish collection and inventory, and identification and classification of insects from the streambed.
At first the fish were icky. By the time they finished, the fish were cool.
“We interacted physically with the fish, and taught their importance in the river,” Ottawa River Coalition Coordinator Beth Seibert said. “By the end, the kids no longer thought the fish were gross.”
Biologists used shocks to stun the fish temporarily so they could be checked, and then released back in the water. The group identified bass, catfish, carp and bluegills, among others, Seibert said.
The diversity of species, along with the fact that biologists Monday found no abnormalities or tumors on the fish, confirmed what wildlife experts have known for some time, the river is greatly recovered.
“We had a biologist with us today who had done work on the river, 10 even 20 years ago,” Seibert said. “Within an hour of working in the river, he realized the river has recovered immensely.”
The children also studied insects in the river, and used those to conduct a water quality assessment. Insects have differing levels of pollution tolerance, so what’s found is an indication of the water health.
Because of high water, the youth didn’t collect at the streambed, but did classify what biologists collected with long-handled nets. The insects indicated good water health. The group also tested temperature, pH levels and oxygen levels in the water.
Funding for the event came from a Lima Rotary Club foundation grant and a smaller grant from Kohl’s. The playground children will also visit the city of Lima Water Treatment Plant and Wastewater Treatment Plant this summer, thanks to the Rotary grant.
The group had planned a river float, but the activity had to be postponed because of the high water. The group is working on rescheduling the event.