On September 14 and 15 a dozen volunteers attended STREAM School at the Watershed Institute Jacob’s Creek in Hopewell Township and Zion Crossing Park in Montgomery Township to learn how to conduct stream habitat assessments for the purpose of evaluating and documenting the health and water quality of a stream.

STREAM (Sourland Team of Resource and Ecology Assessment Monitors) School is sponsored by the Sourland Conservancy, the Watershed Institute, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and NJ AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador Program and partially funded by a 2018 Watershed Institute Grant.

The purpose of STREAM School is to cultivate a cadre of volunteer stream monitors, most of whom will monitor Sourland streams and track their health over time. The collected stream data will also be sent to NJDEP’s water quality-monitoring database, “Water Quality Exchange” (WQX).

STREAM School is an intensive weekend-long study of how to collect and evaluate data on stream health, benthic macro invertebrates, and riparian habitat. The health of a stream is evaluated by looking at riparian vegetation, stream bank erosion, effluent inputs, nearby agriculture, and maintained lawns and impervious surfaces. Benthic macro invertebrates are collected and identified using specific protocols that ensure precision and accuracy in all the data collected. Aquatic macro invertebrates can spend a few months up to a few years in their larval and nymph stages, which means that they are sensitive indicators of what is happening within the stream. Some organisms are associated with only the most pristine waters, while others are able to tolerate higher levels of pollution. By collecting and identifying these organisms, volunteers are able to categorize streams as healthy or polluted.

The Sourland Conservancy would like to express its sincere appreciation to Erin Stretz of the Watershed Institute, Debbie Krazer of NJ DEP and Carolyn Klaube of the Sourland Conservancy. These dedicated and knowledgeable individuals worked together to teach volunteers the ecological significance of the Sourland Mountain region, how water monitors make a difference, and the proper techniques for collecting quality data.

Anyone interested in attending a “Spring Taster” introduction to stream monitoring should contact the Sourland Conservancy’s Stewardship Coordinator, Carolyn Klaube, at cklaube@sourland.org.

Donations to support stream monitoring in the Sourlands and the Sourland Conservancy’s mission to protect, promote and preserve the unique character of the Sourland Mountain region may be made at www.sourland.org.

Caroline Katmann

Executive Director, Sourland Conservancy

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