From the Potomac Headwaters to the Chesapeake Bay

Stream Scholars 2006  

July 17 - 21

Stream Scholars in Other Years: 2003  2004  2005  2007  2008   2009    2010  2011  2012  2013  2014



     In its fourth year, Cacapon Institute’s Stream Scholars Summer Camp was a mixture of exciting new experiences, a great group of returning and new campers, and a hopeful look at the future of our streams. 

     Stream Scholars is CI's hands-on exploration of stream ecology and conservation for middle and high school students.  As in past years, the camp was held on Skagg’s Run, a tributary of the North River.  The Scholars performed habitat assessments, chemical analysis using field and laboratory equipment, used benthic macroinvertebrates to assess stream health, and conducted physical surveys of the study streams.

     Tim Craddock, WVDEP’s Citizens Monitoring Coordinator, joined us again this year to help with the stream assessments.  Last 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 was simply no room for many of the kinds of organisms that had lived there in previous years. This year was better.  While far from perfect, there was less sand and silt on the stream bottom, and the diversity of organisms was much higher.  There is hope!

     This year, on Day 3 we took a long hike into the woods to assess a tiny tributary of Skaggs Run.  Although in a totally forested area, this stream is impacted by changes in the watershed area above it and is eroding badly.  It is also impacted by the effects of excessive deer browse on forest vegetation.  Despite these problems, the stream actually had decent diversity of aquatic organisms, especially for a headwater stream.  However, the habitat scores reflected the degraded nature of the stretch and were much less than optimal. Alana Hartman, WVDEP’s Potomac Basin Coordinator, stopped by to help with the assessments.

      We again had the opportunity to see the other end of the watershed with a trip down to the Chesapeake Bay on the last two days.  We spent the first day at the University of Maryland’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory at Solomon’s Island.  The trip was highlighted by a cruise on the 65 foot long R/V Aquarius (one of the University's research vessels).  In an action-packed two hours, the campers tried just about everything.  They deploying a high-tech instrument pack that collects water samples every second as it descends to the bottom of the Bay, and watched the results of its voyage instantaneously on a computer screen.  They also used the simplest of devices for measuring water clarity - a secchi disk.  They sifted through muddy samples brought up in a bottom dredge, and sorted through the oyster bar rubble brought up by an oyster dredge.  They hauled in an otter seine full of fish and tried not to get pinched by the blue crabs and stung by the stinging jellyfish in the net.  It was a remarkably busy two hours, but they weren't done yet.  When they returned to the Laboratory, they headed out to the research pier to sift through the proceeds in several crab-pots and then returned to the classroom to dissect oysters they had caught on the boat.  Quite a day. 

We camped at Point Lookout that evening, at the confluence of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.  We had a wonderful dinner put together by the campers, and spent the next morning exploring Point Lookout State Park before the long drive back to West Virginia.

     It again 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 was supported by The MARPAT Foundation, the Spring Creek Foundation, the WV Department of Environmental Protection, the WV Conservation Agency (and through them the Chesapeake Bay Program), Mahew Chevrolet (Romney, WV), and the members of Cacapon Institute.  All of these sources of funding allow us to keep our application fees for campers low so the camp is open to all.



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.