Last Saturday, 25 kids and parents had a blast exploring and learning about Little Dry Creek and local wildlife with CHLP and Denver Audubon! Wearing masks and socially-distancing, the group gathered to learn about specialized habitat called Riparian areas – defined as a green ribbon of life usually along water (along creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, and at all elevations). Even though we have fewer streams and creeks and ponds in Colorado than other parts of the country, more than 90% of our animals rely on areas like this at some point in their lifetime – to get water, find food, or have their babies. Kate from Denver Audubon shared why riparian areas are critical for us to protect to keep them safe and healthy for wildlife, as well as our own drinking water, and encouraged kids to think about ways to help protect them by picking up trash, preserving high grass along creeks, and making sure wildlife have ribbons of green habitat.
After sharing her insights, Kate led everyone on a careful exploration of the creek. Kids shared their findings with cries of “Look what I found!”, big kids helped younger ones, and everyone had a great time finding crayfish (a favorite raccoon food), observing butterflies, watching water insects hatch along the water, spotting a Cooper’s Hawk, and hearing the thrum of a broad-tailed hummingbird. As one parent stated so well, exploring open space and learning about nature is a key part of our kids’ education.
Key takeaway: Why is it so important to keep riparian areas clean?
- An aluminum can takes 80-120 years to disappear.
- A glass bottle takes almost a million years (or maybe worn ocean glass and eventually sand)
- A plastic bottle NEVER disappears – it becomes microplastic that we find in rivers and oceans (harming fish, birds, and mammals like people).
- Liquids like oil or chemicals dumped into water all drain to streams and rivers.