Stream Scholars 2005
In its third
year, Cacapon Institute’s Stream Scholars Summer Camp was a mixture
of exciting new experiences, new partnerships that expanded the
scope of the camp, and a sobering look at the future of our streams
if we fail to protect them.
Scholars is CI's hands-on exploration of stream ecology and
conservation for middle and high school students. As in past years,
the non-residential camp was held on Skagg’s Run, a tributary of the
North River, during the first week in August. The Scholars
performed habitat assessments, chemical analysis using field and
laboratory equipment, and used benthic macroinvertebrates to assess
stream health. For the first time, we included detailed physical
surveys of the study stream to establish a benchmark for future
Craddock, WVDEP’s Citizens Monitoring Coordinator, joined us for
Stream Scholars again this year. We were all stunned to see that
our study stream was in trouble. Over the past several years, the
spaces between the gravel and cobble on the stream bottom that used
to provide habitat have become filled with sand and silt. There is
simply no room for many of the organisms that used to live there.
Two years ago, every set of the kick net produced hundreds of
aquatic insects of many different kinds. This year, it took four
“sets” to collect 91 organisms, and the diversity was way down.
Scholars were distressed by the change, and seeing the problem led
to a discussion of solutions. There are many Best Management
Practices (BMPs) that can reduce movement of sediment and other
pollutants into our rivers. But the difficulty isn’t knowing how to
address the problem (whether caused by forestry, development or
agriculture). The difficulty is in developing a community consensus
that the problem exists and needs to be addressed, that we all
contribute to the problem, and then doing it.
On the last
two days, our Scholars had the chance to see the other end of the
watershed with a trip down to the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake
Bay Foundation led a canoe trip through a marshland tributary of the
Patuxent River. We were chased back to the van by an impressive
thunderstorm and camped at Point Lookout that evening. We spent the
following day at the University of Maryland’s Marine Biological
Laboratory at Solomon’s Island, with hands-on activities ranging
from dissection of oysters to sifting through the proceeds in
several crab-pots. The Baker Run Conservation Society funded this
trip through a Stream Partners grant. Carla Hardy of the WV
Conservation Agency made all of the arrangements. Alana Hartman,
WVDEP’s Potomac Basin Coordinator, and Hampshire County science
teacher Janet Gillies helped make this trip a success.
fitting to end our week on the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay is afflicted
by the same pollutants that we saw in Skaggs Run, nutrients and
sediment, and some of those pollutants in the Bay probably
originated in our study stream’s watershed. As we work to protect
streams in our own backyard, we’ll also help to cleanup the Bay.
Scholars Summer Camp is supported by The MARPAT Foundation and the
members of Cacapon Institute.