As we celebrate our two week long #VirtualStewardshipDay, do you know who else is a steward of pollination (Hint...Hint...they are known to be pollinators)? HONEY BEES or more specific, Honey Worker Bees! These little insects can be found near any bright-colored plants. Their job is to collect nectar and pollen from flowers. They gather pollen and place on their hind legs. This collection is called a pollen basket or the scientific term corbicula.
As they forage from flower to flower, pollen is deposited onto the new flower, allowing that flower to reproduce. Not only does the worker bees depend on the flowers, but the flowers also depend on them! Without working honey bees, there would not be as many diverse flowers.
To help support #VirtualStewardshipDay, you can plant flowers such as Phlox, Mint, Sage, or Lavender. One of the regions with the most plant diversity is along the river corridor. Head down to the South Platte and see if you can find any honey bees there!
Did you know that there are more dogs in Denver than kids? There are approximately 161,000 dogs in Denver and more than 1.4 million statewide! With each dog producing around 12 ounces of waste a day, that’s 274 pounds of waste per dog a year in Dever. We all love our furry friends but one of the biggest pollutants in our parks and neighborhoods is dog waste. Usually, people are responsible and pick up after their dogs, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. It might not seem like a river pollutant, but animal waste can add up to big problems for water quality, and even human health. Animal waste contains two main types of pollutants that harm local waters: nutrients and pathogens. When this waste ends up in water bodies, it decomposes, releasing nutrients that cause excessive growth of algae and weeds. This excessive growth causes low oxygen levels in the water that can kill fish and other aquatic life. It also makes the water murky, green, smelly, and even unusable for swimming, boating, or fishing. The pathogens, disease causing bacteria and viruses, can also make local waters unswimmable and unfishable, and have caused severe illness in humans. Pathogens can be spread to other pets and humans including: salmonella, giardia, parvovirus, and others. Denver Park and Recreation have a series of Park Rules and Regulations. The first two rules listed are:
So how can WE help?? We can create a craft for the whole family to enjoy, homemade animal waste bag containers! The idea is that if we leave bags for other people, it will give them the resources they need to clean up after their pet. How do we create these containers? It’s easy!
Step 2: Make four zip tie or string holes on the opposite side of the bottle from the cut-out, two at the top corners and two at the bottom corners
Step 3: Insert zip tie or string into one hole. Repeat with the second zip tie/string holder.
Step 4: Place a note about how the community poop bag share station works on the poop bag dispenser and cover with clear packing tape
Step 5: Fasten your poop bag dispenser to an *approved place* in your neighborhood or park!
Short Answer: Yes it can. Keep reading for the longer answer below.
What comes to mind when you think of the Census? Is it nuisance paperwork? Is it a demographic headcount that determines how your local congressional district is redrawn? Does it provide funding on a per person basis for health services, education programs, and new roads? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are correct! But there is so much more to this once-a-decade event.
Federal and state entities use census data every year to inform funding decisions for numerous programs. In fact, 132 federal programs used data from the Census Bureau to distribute more than $675 billion in 2015 (Hotchkiss and Phelan, 2017). Non-profit programs, such as The Water Connection, can apply for these federal funds to complete projects on the local level.
Some of the programs that received a portion of this large sum in 2015 include:
In 2019, $1.91 billion was allocated to just the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program (Lee and Brumfield, 2019). This loan and grant program funds a variety of water related projects: safe drinking water systems, sanitary disposal of sewage and solid waste, and efficient stormwater drainage for both residential and commercial properties (USDA 2015).
All 8 of the programs above focus on water in some form or fashion. However, there are numerous other programs that focus on nature and the environment as well, such as the Hazardous Waste Management State Program Support or the Wildlife Restoration Program (America Counts Staff, 2020).
There is no way of knowing exactly how much funding Colorado programs will receive in future years. We do know that it will be much less than it could have been if people in our community fail to complete and submit their Census 2020 Questionnaire.
So if you are looking for a way to help out your local community and waterways from home, start by filling out your census today! You can now submit your information online: Click here for the 2020 Census Questionnaire.
Lauren Berent, Associate Director of The Water Connection
America Counts Staff. (2020, February 27). “2020 Census Will Inform Funding for Environmental Programs. Including Mass Transit”. Census Can Help Cities Go Green. Retrieved from: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2020/02/census-can-help-cities-go-green.html
Hotchkiss, Marisa and Jessica Phelan. (Issued September 2017). “Uses of Census Bureau Date in Federal Funds Distribution: A New Design for the 21st Century”. Version 1.0. Retrieved from: https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial/2020/program-management/working-papers/Uses-of-Census-Bureau-Data-in-Federal-Funds-Distribution.pdf
Lee, Jae June and Cara Brumfield. (November 2019). “The 2020 Census & the Environment: How Census Data are used for Environmental Justice & Climate Action”. Factsheet. Retrieved from: https://www.georgetownpoverty.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/GCPI-ESOI-Census-Environment-20191106.pdf
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development. (2015, January 13) Water & Waste Disposal Loan & Grant Program. Retrieved from: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/water-waste-disposal-loan-grant-program
Beavers (like SPREE’s mascot, Chompers!) are cute, funky looking creatures that have inspired human curiosity for centuries, but did you know that they play an essential role in our river ecosystems?
Beavers are considered a “keystone species,” meaning that their presence has a huge impact on the plants and animals around them. Beavers cut down trees near rivers to build large mud-and-stick-structures called dams; these “eco-engineers” cause all sorts of changes to their environment that support and sustain amazing biodiversity.
By blocking river flow, a beaver’s dam can create ponds or deeper channels of water. Many fish, like Colorado’s Greenback Cutthroat Trout, thrive in the cooler, deeper water created by beaver dams. Slower water flow also provides habitats for aquatic insects (like the caddisfly!), as well as safe spaces for creatures like frogs and turtles to have their babies
A beaver dam
In the dry American West, beaver dams create flooding that contributes to important wetlands. The moist and nutrient-rich soil along wetter river banks and riparian zones allows plants like the Cottonwood tree to thrive. More wetland plants means more habitats and food for birds and other animals!
Scientists have shown that humans benefit from beavers too! According to NPR, “beaver dams improve water quality, trap and store carbon — and in the aggregate could be a significant way of storing groundwater in dry climates.”
Many species (including humans!) rely on beaver-created habitats to survive and thrive; in fact, nearly half of our endangered species depend either partly or entirely on the influence of beavers on their wetland ecosystem. But one of our favorite things about beavers? We have them right here along the South Platte!
A beaver enjoying Confluence Park in Denver, CO
Next time you’re out in one of our parks, be sure to look out for signs of these awesome animals -- and if you are lucky enough to spot one, say thanks!