WV Rivers Gets Wet This Summer

Summer is primetime for up-close exploration of our rivers and streams– beat the heat and get wet! And while you’re at it, look closely. There’s a whole lot going on underneath the surface that tells us about the health of a stream.

Got Bugs? Healthy Rivers Do!

WV Rivers teamed up with WVDEP’s Save Our Streams Program to offer a training on identifying the small critters, called “benthic macroinvertebrates”, that are the foundation of a healthy aquatic ecosystem. We had 21 volunteers get their feet wet in Shaver’s Fork in Randolph County to see what they could find. In their nets were a smorgasbord of bugs of all shapes and sizes that serve important ecosystem functions. Some bugs are more sensitive to pollution, so the types of bugs found let us know about the stream’s water quality.

The participating volunteers came from different parts of the state, but found they had a lot in common. They care deeply about their local rivers and streams and want to be active in protecting them. Most came because they are concerned about threats that new pipeline construction pose to their local waters. They understood that sediment pollution that pipeline construction can cause may have severe effects on stream life. They wanted to learn how to hone their citizen science skills to document how a stream’s water quality and biological health could be changing.

At the end of the day, our cohort of volunteer stream monitors were invigorated to know more and do more. We plan to offer more trainings and WVDEP has great information available on their webpage. Check it out and next time you’re wading in a stream turn over a rock and see what you find!

Did You Know?

Did you know moving rocks from a streambed impacts these special critters homes? Take care, tread lightly, and think before disrupting what is an important shelter for animals who inhabit healthy streams.

Snorkeling – West Virginia Style!

What do you get when you put together snorkeling gear and our magnificent mountain headwaters in the Monongahela National Forest? You get to see the world through the eyes of a native brook trout! Forget needing to head to some tropical island – the clarity of West Virginia’s headwater streams provide world-class snorkeling experiences right here at home. And the U.S. Forest Service is suiting up young West Virginians with wetsuits and snorkeling gear to learn, see, and feel all of the life that is going on in the nooks and crannies of our streams.

They are also introducing youth from all over the country to the wonders of West Virginia’s streams. We got to spend a day with members of the Youth Conservation Corps in Horseshoe Run in Tucker County.  Many were getting into a wild stream for the first time. There were a lot of “ooohs” and “ahhs” (that sounded more like honks through the tube of a snorkel), as the teenagers made new discoveries of darters, sculpins, crayfish, and more. They also learned the connection between public lands, clean water and healthy and diverse ecosystems. Learn more about the Forest Service’s program here, and get inspired to pack along goggles and a snorkel on your next trip!

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