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February 20-21, 2016 | Young Men's Campout

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February 20-21, 2016  |  Young Men’s Campout
11 young men of River Watch participated in a campout and volunteer service project at McKinney Falls State Park. Park Ranger, Jenn Menge, gave a brief career talk and lead the young men on a night hike. Ranger Jenn started off the hike by handing out black light flashlights to the River Watchers. About 30 feet into the hike Ranger Jenn found a scorpion with light! We also saw all the things in nature that flouresce, including the sap of the cedar trees. Then we went “Spider Sniffing” and found lots of jumping spiders. As we hiked along the creek we paused for 30 seconds of silence, but once they heard the sounds of nature – the wind blowing through the trees, the rushing water below in the creek, the chorus of cricket frogs along the water’s edge, they wanted more. We visited the old rock shelter which was used approximately 5,000 – 8,000 years ago by native peoples here.  e also said hello to “Old Baldy”, an enormous bald cypress tree estimated to be about 500 years old.
In the morning the River Watchers met up with AmeriCorps volunteers from 4H Capital to propagate local ecotype Eastern Gamagrass along the banks of Onion Creek, which has experienced three 100 year flood events within the last year and two 250 year flood events within the last three years. River Watch families were affected by the flood events. One family’s home was part of the buy-out that happened in response to the 2013 Halloween flood, so they were moved out of their old neighborhood. As the watershed gets more impervious cover, like roads and rooftops, which can’t absorb water, rain water runs off, making flood events more severe. This was a chance to enhance the ecological and hydrological function of this riparian area, the land next to the creek, and to help the River Watchers develop a sense of efficacy, that they can make the environment better.
FEb McKinney Falls

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