Getting down and dirty for good reason

Red Hook Cub Scout Den 1, of Pack 42, helped conduct a stream quality assessment for the state recently.

The WAVE ( “Wadeable Assessment by Volunteer Evaluators”) assessment establishes a baseline for stream quality by sampling the number and type of macroinvertebrates (bugs, larvae and worms) found in a 16-foot stretch of water. The program is run by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“We found a good spot, with riffles (rocky areas, where the water is broken, and therefore more oxygenated), not too far from the mouth of the stream”, says Anne Rubin, a trained volunteer, who led the group on July 7 to a stream near Poet’s Walk. “Poet’s Walk is used year round by people and pets, we thought it was important to get some data on the stream.”

Since water levels were low, Rubin did the sampling with a specialized net, and the boys used tweezers and ice cube trays to pick out, and identify the critters, which were then divided into two groups, desirable and undesirable. A higher number and diversity among the “desirable” types is a strong indication that the stream is healthy. A presence of four or more types of the “undesirables” indicates that there are impacts to the stream. The group also assessed the stream visually, looking for trash and debris, and water clarity.

Samplings of the macroinvertebrates found that day have been delivered to Alene Onion, program coordinator at the DEC. She will then identify them in a laboratory setting. This program allows the DEC to get vital stream data on many more streams than their staff can assess personally within a year. If the sample indicates that a stream is impaired, the DEC will send biologists to the area for further testing.

The boys said they had a great time and were proud to be contributing data to a statewide program.

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