Sunday, May 16, 2010

Muskrat Love

So back in February or so Steve was given charge of about 100 salmon for his classroom. He has been caring for them ever since and this week it was time to release them into a local stream. (We figured it was about time since he had 10 or so jump out of the tank and commit suicide and the whole point is to boost salmon numbers and not to do psychological studies on what drives salmon to the edge...)

Steve got in touch with a local man who has a stream running through his backyard. Each fall the salmon return and spawn here and he said that between him and his neighbor they have had as many as 35+ salmon nests in the fall. So, we knew it would be good salmon habitat. Steve invited any students who wanted to come along to come join us. And as usual, kicked into Mr. Bennett mode and had to teach the kids about why this was good habitat and how local stream health is vital to salmon populations. He really is a great teacher.
After that, he took our cooler full of salmon and dumped them into the stream. The students enjoyed trying to spot the fish as they spread out in a natural habitat for the first time in their lives.
After that, Mr. Bennett had to revert back to Steve mode when a student saw something along the shore in the stream. Being Steve, it wasn't enough to check it out - he had to pick it up and show it to the rest of us. So, I bring you Steve and his friend the muskrat.In case you don't know what a LIVE muskrat looks like...

We all enjoyed thinking about how hilarious it would have been if the muskrat had come back to life or had just been sleeping when Steve picked it up. Sorry, the story isn't that interesting.

But, the gentleman welcomed Steve and his students back any time and we hope to take the environmental science class up next fall to count nests and see salmon spawning (and then hopefully make a trip to McNary dam to see the fish runs and ladders and talk about local salmon and the trade-offs associated with the dam/salmon controversy).

By the way, the area was beautiful! And on a totally random note, the man bred some beautiful dogs which were quite funny and friendly companions on our way.

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