ocean first institute logoPartner: Ocean First Institute

Group Members: Christian Neff, Austin Schonfield, Victoria Tadewald, Samantha Thywissen

In 2013, a historic flood ripped through Boulder County causing widespread devastation throughout the valley. Although the flood destroyed houses and roads and eroded river banks, it also provided an unique opportunity for the regrowth of wetland habitats. Areas such as Webster and Rooney ponds in Lyons were filled with nutrient rich silt, and restored to their original wetland state. Instead of clearing the sediment, the county decided to designate the area as a protected wetland habitat and restore native species to help prevent another erosion event. Capitalizing on this opportunity, the Ocean First Institute, a nonprofit located in Boulder, decided to partner with local organizations and schools to help reintroduce a native species that had been previously wiped from the Front Range: the Northern Redbelly Dace (NRD). For this Capstone project, the MENV team will be partnering with the Ocean First Institute to recover and expand the range of the NRD within Colorado. Working primarily alongside the Ocean First Institute, Ocean First Education, Boulder County Parks and Open Space, and the St. Vrain Valley School District, MENV students will provide valuable insight on fish rearing techniques and reintroduction strategies. The team will be taking an interdisciplinary approach to conservation by combining scientific data collection, curriculum development, and public engagement. To do so, they will use various quantitative methods to collect the necessary data for the reintroduction of the NRD including: eDNA, water quality monitoring, PIT tagging, and GoPro video monitoring. The students then will compile the data that they've collected throughout their fieldwork to create a reproducible curriculum for local schools to participate in the conservation project.