Tell Your Story

Check out one of the stories we have listed below or Add Your Own Story.

A Booker Creek Watershed Walk: Historic Roser Park

On a sunny day in mid-April I went for my second visit to Booker Creek.  My first visit took place on a chilly day last January when I met my tour guide and local historian, Kai Warren.  Kai lives in Historic Roser Park, one of the neighborhoods in St. Petersburg that Booker Creek flows through.  He spends a lot of time hiking the shores of the creek keeping his eyes out for interesting birds to take pictures of, something that I've started doing too!

This visit the weather was much nicer - the high was in the mid-80s and there was a gentle breeze in the air.  I started my watershed walk at the Booker Creek monitoring station located right behind Campbell Park Elementary School.  As I got closer to the shore, I noticed an assortment of litter - plastic soda bottles, aluminum cans...even a sweatshirt and a shopping cart!  Next time I go on a watershed walk I'll have to remember to take a plastic bag with me to collect some of the trash.  Every little bit helps!

As I continued down the creek toward Roser Park, I noticed an unusual "swoosh, plop" sound that I'd never heard before.  Across the creek on the opposite bank stood a very tall tree whose leaves were falling in the breeze.  As each broad, flat leaf fell through the air it made a "swoosh," then a "plop" as it landed on the water.  A little further along, I spotted a striped mud turtle sunning himself beneath a flowering tree.  Turtles and other reptiles are cold-blooded, which means their body temperature is the same as the temperature of their environment.  When turtles get too cold swimming in the water, they crawl up on to a rock and sit in the sunshine until they warm up - then it's back in the water again!

I also noticed a lot of plants growing in the water - scientists call these "submerged aquatic vegetation," or SAV for short.  SAV are important because they release oxygen into the water the other organisms need to live.  They also provide food and shelter, and help filter sediment from the water.  Not all aquatic plants are good though!  In places where there is polluted runoff (from farms or cities, for example), nutrients can enter the water and cause too many plants to grow at once - this is called a "bloom."  If the bloom gets too bad, the plants can block sunlight and make it difficult for other things in the water to live.  This is why it's so important that we don't dump chemicals or other waste down the street drains - it all flows into places like Booker Creek and Tampa Bay!

Even though it's part of an urban watershed, Booker Creek is very slow and peaceful as it flows through Historic Roser Park.  Lots of old, tall trees line the creek's shores and provide plenty of shade from the hot Florida sun.  On this particular trip I saw (and heard!) a red cockaded woodpecking tapping away at a scraggly tree in search of bugs.  Dozens of small, silver fish darted through the creek's lazy water, trying to avoid the sharp bill of a great blue heron looking for lunch.  It was great to see the creek so full of wildlife - I can't wait to come back in the summer and see what other plants and animals there are!