The way we treat our watersheds does not just affect us, but also all of the wildlife that we share the planet with. Earth Science Week 2017 (October 8-14, 2017) aims to spread awareness about “Earth and Human Activity,” and is a good reminder of the impact we have on our watersheds and why it matters.
All kinds of species can become extinct or threatened if their environment is disrupted. Some examples from Riverside County include the Riverside Fairy Shrimp, the Santa Ana Sucker, and the Western Pond Turtle which have all been placed on the endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Riverside Fairy Shrimp
Riverside Fairy Shrimp can be found after rainy seasons in vernal pools, temporary pools of rainwater that collect in shallow depressions. During the dry season, their eggs are cysts that can survive in soil until rainwater refills the pools. Trash, litter and illegal dumping can degrade or even destroy the areas that collect the rainwater these crustaceans rely on to survive. The Riverside Fairy Shrimp has only been found in a few areas, notably Riverside County. Keeping our watersheds healthy protects this tiny creature.
The Sana Ana Sucker
The Santa Ana Sucker is a freshwater fish that is native to California. These fish inhabit the urban areas of Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. Their decline highlights a need to ensure the health of Southern California’s watersheds since it is likely due to the lack of clean water. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have approved a recovery plan for the fish that includes reestablishing the Sucker’s habitat and providing additional areas of high-quality habitat in each of the inhabited watersheds.
Western Pond Turtle
The Western Pond Turtle is California’s only native fresh water turtle. They are typically found in lakes, streams or ponds with lots of aquatic vegetation. Their species has become threatened due to disease, aquatic habitat destruction, and the introduction of predators. Waterways they inhabit have been disrupted by contaminant spills, grazing, and off-road vehicle use. The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve in the Santa Margarita Watershed is one protected home for some of the remaining turtles.
You can protect these endangered species by helping keep our watersheds clean and reporting any signs of major pollution or major drought. Join the effort in keeping our precious species alive.