Thursdays out on Island Park Reservoir

It feels like just yesterday it was the first week of Henry’s Fork Foundation (HFF) orientation, but as this week rolls by, it is crazy to think that I have just completed my fifth week at HFF. I have adjusted to summer life in Idaho and have been busy at work with Jack McLaren taking vertical profile measurements of Island Park (IP) Reservoir as well as compiling data for my independent project on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). My weeks are pretty consistent now, and I look forward Thursdays, the day I get to go out on IP Reservoir to take vertical profiles of the water.


On Thursdays I start off bright and early with the jarring sound of my alarm at 7:15am. I try my best to get out of bed and shut off my alarm in hopes of not waking any of the other interns. I then make myself a quick breakfast and pack a lunch usually consisting of a sandwich and some fruit. I arrive to the office between 7:30am and 7:45am and begin preparing for my big day out on IP Reservoir. I organize the sonde equipment (making sure I remembered to plug in the handheld the night before), grab the lifejackets, and collect the equipment for routine sampling of the reservoir to check for invasive species for our partner, Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA). I, along with one of the other interns, Chloé Romero, throw all that stuff in the back of the truck and begin the process of hooking the trailer up to the truck. It is usually around this time the one of the other interns or Jack McLaren joins us for our day out on the water. Once we are all accounted for and hooked up around 8:15am, we head on our way to IP Reservoir.


We get to the boat ramp around 9:00am which means that the boat ramp and surrounding water isn’t very packed (this is good for me as I am still new to backing the trailer into the water). Once we are in the water at the dock, Chloé Romero or I take it upon ourselves to collect our first samples of the day, potential invasive species samples. Every other week out on IP Reservoir we routinely collect samples of water for ISDA so that the water can be analyzed to ensure that no invasive species are present in the reservoir; it consists of throwing out a phytoplankton net, capturing tiny phytoplankton and within that, potential zebra mussel veligers, and bottling them up to ship back to ISDA for analysis. After this collection we are officially on our way to take the vertical profile measurements of the reservoir. We collect the vertical profiles at five different spots: Trude Bay, Trude Island, Lakeside, the Gates to the dam, and the Power Plant next to the dam. The process of using the sonde to take vertical profiles is pretty straight forward; we first calibrate the instrument to make sure we get correct readings for the depth, make sure that the handheld device is connected to the right location, slowly lower the sonde in the water, and slowly bring the sonde back to the surface after it reaches the bottom. As the vertical profile is taking place, we are also throwing out the phytoplankton net to gather our samples for ISDA. After our final stop at the dam, it is around 11:00am and it is time to pack up the boat and head back to the office.


Pictured: Island Park Reservoir


Once back at the office around 11:45am we unload and unattach the trailer and lug all the equipment into the office. My first order of business once in the office is to package up the ISDA samples and get them on ice to preserve them till they are sent out on Friday. I then clean then invasive species sampling equipment and put away the sonde instrument. My last order of business for the day is to download the data files of each of the five spots where vertical profiles were taken. This process always me to turn the data into clean and organized csv excel files. After I am done moving the data files into an easy to reach place it is around 4:00pm and I have about an hour left till the workday is over. For my last hour of work, I devote my time to doing a little work on my independent project. The past few weeks it has consisted of organizing some data in excel sheets, looking at satellite maps, or working on my abstract. Once the workday is over, I head the mere 200 steps back in the intern suite and get ready for my Thursday evening in Ashton!


Pictured: Island Park Reservoir and the boat we use to collect our measurements

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