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Gahr High School students will assist the California Department of Fish and Wildlife by identifying and monitoring invasive species in the lakes at Cerritos Regional Park and Heritage Park in Cerritos, California. They will also evaluate the effectiveness of a public education strategy designed to reduce invasive species and improve the water quality of Cerritos Regional Park.
One of the issues facing the California Department of Fish & Game is mitigating the impact of invasive species like zebra mussels, quagga mussels, mud snails, fish, and turtles in local lakes and water systems. These invasive species disturb natural wildlife and cause significant damage to infrastructure. Moreover, invasive species in one water system can be easily be transferred to other systems by boats, toys, people and animals.
Cerritos Regional Park is an 84-acre park in Cerritos, California that boasts of many amenities such as a playground for kids, a community center, a softball field, and basketball courts. The jewel of the park is a fishing lake. However, the lake is populated with invasive species that influence the water quality. The presence and impact of invasive species mentioned above is not well understood, because the Department of Fish and Game lacks resources to collect critical data on this lake with continuity over time.
The GSP students will help by conducting regular water quality experiments in Cerritos Regional Park Lake to check the pH, temperature, nitrate, phosphate, dissolved oxygen, calcium, carbon dioxide, and silica. They will also collect and identify the type and number of invasive plankton over time. Students will make the same observations at nearby Heritage Park Lake to identify differences in these water systems and practices that might improve water quality at both Lakes
Finally, students will set up an information booth and signs to educate the public during the weekends when Cerritos Regional Park is busiest. They expect educating public about the impact of invasive species, negative effects of feeding wildlife, and how one can avoid introducing aquatic invasive species into the lake will have a positive impact on the water quality of the lake.
At the end of the project, students will examine the effectiveness of their prevention plan and present their data and findings to the lake managers, The City of Cerritos, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and on the EPA website.