Stream Scholars 2005

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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. 

     Stream 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 comparisons.

     Tim 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.

     Returning 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.

     It seemed 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.

    Stream Scholars Summer Camp is supported by The MARPAT Foundation and the members of Cacapon Institute.




Cacapon Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay, we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.

Cacapon Institute
PO Box 68
High View, WV 26808
304-856-1385 (tele)
304-856-1386 (fax)
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Frank Rodgers,  Executive Director

Website  made 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 members.