Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stream monitoring–I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

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Last weekend was absolutely beautiful weather in nothern VA, so our family slipped on our boots and headed to our stream, Difficult Run, to conduct our spring invertebrate monitoring!  As you know from previous posts, our stream hasn’t been looking too healthy.   But hope springs eternal, so off we went, hoping to find at least 200 invertebrates during 4, 1-minute sessions of twisting and turning to stir up the stream sediment.  We set up our net and twisted for all we were worth!IMG_0241

After 4 minutes of twisting, we caught (drumroll please)……….9 invertebrates (wah, wah, waaah).  Since this is our fourth attempt at stream monitoring, and our fourth finding of a very impaired stream, we were thoroughly depressed.  We needed to cheer ourselves up.  They say you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream which is pretty much the same thing.  So we dried ourselves off, washed our hands, and headed off for some healing ice cream!

These results should be enough to make suburban greenmomsters really take a good hard look at our local environment.  Thanks to erosion, pollution, and sedimentation, our streams are far from healthy.  How can we make a difference?  Here are a few tips:

  • Find out about your local watershed – what’s the name of your local stream?  where does the water from your yard go?
  • Don’t overuse or misuse lawn fertilizers and herbicides.  Did you know that, acre for acre, the average suburban homeowner uses more fertilizer than a farmer in a similar area?
  • Never dump oil or other pollutants down storm drains – dispose of these wastes as directed by your local government
  • Use biodegradable car wash soap, or better yet, go to a local carwash where they’ll be sending the waste to the local wastewater treatment plant
  • Install rain gardens and rain barrels in your yard to allow rain to filter naturally through the ground
  • Encourage local governments and developers to develop plans to decrease water velocity to streams – shunting all of our rainwater quickly to streams (rather than letting it filter naturally though the soil) causes erosion and sedimentation that kills streams
  • Adopt your own stream and become a clean water advocate!

If you’d like to learn more about adopting your own local stream, ask your local Soil and Water Conservation District representative or the Izaak Walton League website.

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