A large palm tree  shades this area for creek study along Muskrat Creek.  Usually the water is slowing moving downstream and you can sometimes see small fish in the larger pools.  Creeks in Fremont had larger flows in the past.  Large underground aquifers feed many of the streams throughout the year.  In areas where faults are located, the water steeps upward forming marsh lands. However, as Fremont became urbanized different agencies started to control the flow of water, in part to control flooding and  maintain the aquifers.  Muskrat Creek is in part water from Mission Creek and overflow of water flowing from Hetch Hetchy pipelines that supply water to San Francisco and other cities along its route. 

Muskrat Creek has a canopy of cottonwoods, and willows.  All of the trees are native to a Fremont riparian zone except the palm tree, whose seed was probably brought to the area by a bird over 25 years ago. 

Within the aquatic zone,  biological life helps us determine the health of the stream.  This is referred to as biological assessment.  By observing the  types of small invertebrates with respect to diversity and number, you can access whether the stream is healthy or not. 

    LESSON.  Measuring Streamflow - Streamflow is important because a steady flow  helps to keep an area aerated.  Velocity is a measurement of how fast something moves.  Water can be measured by timing how fast a floating object travels 50 feet in a stream.  Select an object that floats low in the water, pin pong ball, fishing bobber, or small branch. 

    LESSON.   Determining the direction of stream flow.  -  Explain how to use a compass with students.  The needle always points to North, and then you adjust the compass itself to indicate that is North.  After you orientate the compass, ask students to find the direction of the flow.  The flow is almost west to northwest.

    LESSON.  Water Quality -Measuring temperature, nitrate, oxygen, and pH can help you determine the chemical fitness of the water for living organisms.  These activities need more preparation, as you will need equipment.   Temperature can be measured with a thermometer.  However pH, oxygen and nitrate require a chemical kit.  We recommend LaMotte kits.  You can also use pH paper to help determine the pH, without a kit.

    LESSON.  Bioassessment -The type of organisms in a creek reflects the quality of the water.  We recommend using the California Bioassessment protocol that is provided in the appendix.