Seven middle school students enjoyed a week participating
in the 7th Annual Stream Scholars Summer Camp,
a hands-on exploration of stream ecology and
conservation. The Scholars became Certified WV Save
Our Streams water monitors, visited Washington D.C. for a
sampling cruise on the Potomac, and camped on the Potomac
River not far from where it meets the Chesapeake Bay. They
spent the first three days in and around Waites Run at J.A.
Hawkins (Wardensville Town) Park.
Scholars would like to thank:
Jennifer Titus for being a chaperone;
Tim Craddock and Alana Hartman, WV Department of
Environmental Protection, for instruction and guidance;
Chesapeake Bay Foundation for the sampling trip on the lower
natural resources staff at George Washington’s Birth Place
National Monument, led by Ranger Riji (Rick) Morawe;
(Romney), for donating use of a van;
The WV Commission for
National and Community Service, WV Conservation Agency,
MARPAT Foundation and our members for financial support.
conducted stream habitat assessments and used field
equipment to measure pH, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen,
an important indicator of suitable habitat for aquatic
life. On Monday, Alana Hartman, WV DEP’s Chesapeake Bay
Coordinator, spoke to the youth about what the DEP is doing
to protect local waters that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.
She also discussed her career and opportunities in biology
and science. On Tuesday and WednesdayTim Craddock, WV DEP’s Citizens Monitoring Coordinator for the
WV Save Our Streams Program, led the training and the
stream investigation. The Scholars investigated how
the population of benthic macroinvertebrates (small animals
without backbones that live on the stream bottom) will show
if a stream is healthy or in trouble.
Watch a video of the Stream Scholars sampling the
remains a very healthy stream. That is due in part to the
good stewardship of J.A. Hawkins Park. They are protecting
Waites Run from pollution by not cutting the thick forest
that grows along the stream bank. This ribbon of forest,
known as a riparian buffer, between the park grounds and the
stream, protects Waites Run by reducing erosion, filtering
pollution before it reaches the stream, and providing shade
for the stream. Even with the forest buffer, the Scholars
noticed the water was a little cloudy and not as clear as
years past. They investigated upstream but were unable to
identify the source of the murky green color. That is one
of the biggest problems with non-point source water
pollution, the source of the problem can be very hard to
the Scholars headed to Washington D.C. for an afternoon trip
on the Susquehanna, a 42’ research vessel of the Chesapeake
Bay Foundation. The Scholars cruissed the Potomac River in
the heart of Washington in view of the Washington Monument,
past Reagan International Airport and the U.S. Army War
College. Then they went past the Blue Plains Waste Water
Treatment Plant, that treats and discharges all the waste
water for D.C. and some of the surrounding area. It is one
of the largest treatment plants in the United States.
Across the River, away from the treatment plan, Scholars
took water samples and measurements before being chased back
to dock by one dark storm full of lightning. They got back
just in time for the rain and lightning to pass over head.
the Scholars camped at Westmoreland State Park, Virginia, on
the lower tidal section of the Potomac River not far from
where it flows into the Chesapeake Bay. That night,
they gathered to prepare "Arthur's Hobo Stew" that has been
a tradition on Stream Scholars overnights since our first
trip to the Bay in 2005.
On Friday the
Scholars visited the shore of the Potomac near a tidal
marsh. Every high tide the marsh floods then releases the
water during low tide. Some of the Scholars investigated
how the water flowing out of the marsh was cooler and
clearer than the main Potomac.
afternoon the Scholars were treated to a special tour of
George Washington’s Birth Place National Monument. They
discussed what they know about George Washington’s visits to
Capon Bridge and the Cacapon River with Ranger Riji (Rick)
Morawe and his staff. Did you know Charlestown, WV, is
named after George Washington’s younger brother Charles?
Washington’s Birth Place, the Scholars
had an interesting look into the history of the Potomac and
how West Virginia has been connected to the Bay since
colonial times. They discussed George Washington’s visits
to West Virginia with Ranger Riji (Rick) Morawe and his
The Scholars learned how Pope Creek, next to the
Washington family’s farm, was 16’ deep in George
Washington’s youth and deep enough to provide anchorage for
sea going ships. Returning as an adult Washington was
shocked by how Pope Creek had filled in so much it was no
longer suitable for commercial traffic. President
Washington wrote on how bad farming practices cause erosion,
lose fertile top soil, and cause sedimentation. Today, Pope
Creek is only 4’ deep.
As always, the Scholars made
new friends and explored their creativity.
all had fun, of course, but what is more important they
learned serious lessons about the science of keeping our
waters clean and healthy. Grasping science early will help
Stream Scholars in life. Understand and appreciating how
our local West Virginia waters are connected to the Mid
Atlantic States through the Potomac and Chesapeake will help
them become better citizen of the whole United States.
Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay,
we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.
possible by funding from The Norcross Wildlife Foundation, the
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Environmental
Endowment, NOAA-BWET, USEPA, The MARPAT Foundation, and our generous