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What’s in Your Water? Free Training Sessions for Sourland STREAM Monitors

Flemington, NJ (April 15, 2019) – What's in your water?  The Sourland Mountain is known for its pristine headwaters that flow from the Mountain to the Raritan, Millstone, and Delaware rivers. Millions of people rely on those rivers to provide clean, safe drinking water.  If a stream is healthy, it's teaming with life: plants, insects, fish, amphibians, birds, and other animals. In fact, the creatures found in a stream can actually provide invaluable information to scientists. Birds like the Louisiana Water Thrush, for instance, will only be found in the cleanest streams.

Macroinvertibrates (spineless organisms that are large enough to be seen with the naked eye) are very reliable indicators of water quality. In fact, macroinvertibrate surveys can be much less expensive and even more reliable than chemical tests as they can offer a detailed picture of overall ecosystem health. Some aquatic creatures are more sensitive to pollution, will tolerate warmer water, suspended solids, etc. Monitoring the presence and diversity of the types of macroinvertibrates over time can offer biologists insights into the effects of changes in the stream and landscape such as ash tree mortality and climate change.

In an effort to understand the impacts of these types of changes, the Sourland Conservancy recently partnered with the Watershed Institute and Americorps Watershed Ambassadors from the three Sourland region watersheds: Central Delaware, Raritan Headwaters Association and the Watershed Institute to create an innovative new STREAM program: Sourland Team of Resource and Ecology Monitors. STREAM volunteers will collect critical data that will allow biologists to assess the health of our ecosystem.

The Sourland region's Americorps Watershed Ambassadors have offered to lead free STREAM volunteer training sessions in their area to teach participants to identify sensitive macroinvertibrates and assess riparian habitat. No experience is necessary.  Each volunteer will complete one, two-part training session (one indoor lesson and one outdoor lesson), then accompany the Watershed Ambassador to complete a survey in a Sourland region stream.

STREAM volunteers may choose to continue to assist Watershed Ambassadors and other Tier 3 Water Quality Monitors this spring and in the future. They also may choose to continue their training to become Certified Tier 3 Water Quality Monitors to be able to conduct stream assessments and lead STREAM volunteers.

The Watershed Institute will offer a two-day Sourland Stream School this fall which will provide more in-depth information regarding stream health, water quality issues, and more intensive study of macroinvertibrates. Participants will learn more about how to identify aquatic organisms, assess riparian habitat, measure flow rates, turbidity and other stream health indications. Volunteers completing all requirements at the Tier 3 level will be celebrated and awarded a certificate of achievement at a ceremony in April 2020. 

STREAM volunteers who are interested in volunteering in 2019 may choose to attend any one of the two-part sessions that will presented this spring.  The first 2019 STREAM monitor two-part training session will be led by the Raritan Headwaters Americorps Watershed Ambassador, Daniel Correa, on Wednesday, April 24, 7 - 8:30pm indoors at Flemington Free Public Library and Sunday, April 28th, 10am-12pm outdoors at Mine Brook Park 116 Capner St, Flemington, NJ 08822. www.tiny.cc/STREAMApril24and28

The second two-part session will be led by Watershed Institute Americorps Watershed Ambassador, Kristen Obermeier, on Friday, May 2nd, 6-7:30pm indoors at the Watershed Institute and Saturday, May 4th, 10am-12pm outdoors at Rosedale Park in Hopewell Township. www.tiny.cc/STREAMMay2and4

The third two part session will be led Central Delaware Americorps Watershed Ambassador, Fairfax Hutter, Thursday, May 16th, 7-9p at the Barn at the Hunt House near Pennington and Saturday, May 18th, 9-11am (location TBD). Sponsored by the Sourland Conservancy, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Central Delaware Watershed, Raritan Headwaters Association and Mercer County Park Commission. No experience necessary! Space is limited. Registration is required.  www.tiny.cc/STREAMMay16and18

STREAM Monitoring in the Sourlands was made possible, in part, by a generous grant from The Watershed Institute. To learn more, please visit www.sourland.org/stream-monitoring.

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