Getting used to living in Ashton has been very easy so far. The staff here at HFF as well as all of the locals have been amazing. This past weekend I decided I had to go explore Yellowstone and I was not disappointed. The spectacular mountain ridges along the Madison River, the wild elk and bison herds, the geysers, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone left me in awe. Standing at the top of Lower Falls in the canyon had to be my favorite part by far.
My first few weeks of working for HFF have been both tiring as well as rewarding. Aside from helping to setup the HFF Community Campus open house and HF Days, I have been going through old files and collecting data of all sorts on the river all the way from Henry’s Lake and its tributaries down to the Island Park Reservoir. I was fortunate enough that my supervisor, Jack McLaren, had previously gone through many of the files and put the data into Excel sheets; however, there were still many files that needed to be converted. Converting old files dating all the way back to the 70’s felt both tedious and useless at first; however, now that I have completed all of the necessary data entries (until Jack inevitably points out files that I somehow missed), I realize how important this work was for my own intern project. These extremely detailed files will help me to gain an accurate understanding of overall health of the river and how it has changed since the 70’s.
My own internship project will be to determine the trophic state of the river stretching from Big Springs all the way down to the Flat Rock Club. I will utilize a series of rapid bioassessments along this particular reach to examine the macroinvertebrate populations, which in turn will give me an idea of exactly how healthy this portion of the river is. Jack and I will also be floating this section of the river and be recording water quality data using an Exo Sonde. The idea here is that we will be following a singular section of water as it flows through this region. The sonde will be recording temperature, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, blue-green algae, conductivity, chlorophyll, etc. as we float. Shifts in these readings will tell us how the quality of the water changes as we move downstream and will hopefully allow for us to see why the quality of the fishery here has declined since the “golden ages” in the 70’s. Now that I have successfully completed data entries of all the old files, I am excited to be able to move forward with the collection of current data from this area. I will be presenting my research on July 24th at the HFF Community Campus at 11am!