Creek Stomp explores what’s in the water

By on August 23, 2017

Participants in the Chiques Creek Watershed Alliance’s Creek Stomp search Rife Run for aquatic life to indicate the health of the stream.

Manheim’s Mummau Park buzzed with activity on Wednesday, Aug. 9. The park’s pavilion and the adjacent stream, Rife Run, were the hub of activity during the Chiques Creek Watershed Alliance’s annual Creek Stomp.

An estimated 90 children and adults enjoyed the opportunity to cool off in the stream while looking for organisms to scoop up under the supervision of Lancaster County Conservation District watershed specialist Matt Koffroth.

“It’s good to see so many people getting a first-hand look at one of the streams in the watershed,” said Steve Gergely, CCWA president. “Events like this are fun, but also educational. Hopefully they’ll leave with a new appreciation about the importance of maintaining good water quality.”

Among those excited about the opportunity to explore the stream were Archer and Grant Grissinger. Although the two boys visit the park frequently and were attracted to the creek, they had only seen it from the stream bank or the small observation platform. The Creek Stomp was the first time their mom allowed them to explore the stream. They netted several small clams, which they excitedly showed to their mom.

Shepherd Todd, who had participated in last year’s Creek Stomp as well, shared his stream finds. He proudly displayed and identified four crayfish, two small fish, and a mayfly.

Archer Grissinger gets a close-up view of the clams he and his brother, Grant, netted during the Creek Stomp. (Photos by Rochelle Shenk)

After collecting samples from the stream, children and their parents gathered in the pavilion to further examine their finds with Koffroth. He explained how their finds relate to the health of the stream.

The clams that many participants found are not necessarily good. While they do filter water they are not native to streams in the state.

“Native clams are about the size of your pinky nail. The clams we found today are larger,” Koffroth explained. “They’re native to China and shouldn’t he here.”

He pointed out that crayfish, which many people found, are a good find as are the number of small fish, mayflies, and dragonflies.

“Dragonflies are our friends. The live for two weeks, which is longer than mayflies, and they eat lots of mosquitoes,’ Koffroth said.

Grant (left) and Archer Grissinger examine the clams they netted from Rife Run during the Chiques Creek Watershed Alliance’s Creek Stomp.

All of these aquatic finds indicate that the water quality of Rife is “medium to good.” Koffroth pointed out that the grasses and plantings along the streambank help filter water. Koffroth reminded participants that keeping trash out of the stream is something they can do to help improve water quality. Additionally, trees along the stream provide shade, which cools the water and makes it a better habitat for fish.

The portion of Rife Run that flows through Mummau Park was the watershed group’s first major project. A streambank restoration was initiated in 2002 and completed in 2004. Since then the organization has organized streambank planting efforts. A small viewing platform, and a kiosk with educational information about the stream and restoration efforts have been added over the years.

“There’s been a huge change here. If you were here 15 years ago, it would have looked really different — just grass down to the water,” said Jineen Boyle, watershed coordinator with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

She has been involved with the watershed group through DEP’s Growing Greener Grant program, which has helped to fund some of the improvements to the stream. However, she said this was the first time she had participated in an activity such as the Creek Stomp.

“It’s a neat experience. It’s good to see so many little kids participating at an event like this,” she said.

Creek Stomp participants returned their “finds” to Rife Run before heading home.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at

Shepherd Todd proudly displays his “finds” during the Chiques Creek Watershed Alliance’s Creek Stomp.


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