Semper Fidelis - Semper Discentes

Down the Creek Without a Paddle

In Aquatic macroinvertebrates, Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring on April 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm

This past Sunday was the first day of spring (I think!), and a wonderful day to be paddling on Bryant Creek, here in the Missouri Ozarks.

John and Sue and I put our kayaks and canoe in at the “Monastery Bridge” in Douglas County, only a mile or so from Assumption Abbey, a Trappist monastery, and paddled over ten miles downstream to the Highway 95 bridge, just below the Ozark County line.

In addition to enjoying a great day of sun, fun, and good companionship, we were conducting chemical monitoring of the stream at one-mile intervals as part of the State of Missouri’s Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring (VWQM) program.  This endeavour provides free training to individuals, enabling them, in the Introductory training, to learn to identify “aquatic macroinvertebrates” (bug larva) as indicators of water quality.

Later, the volunteers may choose to proceed through three levels of advanced training, during which they become proficient in conducting tests of water/air temperature, turbidity, pH, conductivity, nitrate, phosphate, and dissolved oxygen levels.  The Missouri Stream Team organization then provides ALL the necessary equipment, free of charge, to the volunteer–sampling nets, chemical analysis equipment, thermometers, sample jars–pretty much EVERYTHING, except a canoe.

John is a Level 3 monitor, so he provided the “adult supervision” for Sue and me.  Our Master Naturalist chapter, based in West Plains, developed an ambitious project in 2010, whereby we would monitor every mile of the 42+ mile, floatable portion of Bryant Creek, from the Vera Cruz MDC (Missouri Conservation Department) access, down to the confluence of Bryant with the North Fork of the White River at Tecumseh.

We divided the stream into four sections, with a team leader responsible for each segment.  As my segment was substantially longer than the others, John and Sue graciously lent their help in covering almost 2/3 of the nearly 18-mile stretch.

Early on, we passed a crystalline spring, which issued from a cave on the left hillside, tumbling over mossy rocks down to the creek.

The temperatures rose to nearly 80 during the day, and I only managed to sink my kayak TWICE, an improvement of 33% over last year’s outing, although I DID manage to lose my paddle in the process.  Fortunately, John had brought an extra, so I was not left to live in the wilderness, eating lichens, and slowly starving and turning feral.
We sampled twelve sites, and managed to reach the take-out point just as darkness descended.  All the data was organized, and submitted electronically to the Missouri Stream Team program, a truly wonderful undertaking, which involves over 4,000 volunteer “stream teams” which clean, monitor, and enjoy Missouri’s beautiful waterways.
A truly great way to spend a day, with good friends, a beautiful stream, and a worthwhile reason to be there.
With apologies to Anne Murray:
Can you imagine a piece of the universe more fit for princes and kings?
I’ll trade you ten of your cities for my Bryant Creek, and the pleasures it brings.
 
Out on the Bryant, on soft summer nights,
Bonfires blaze, to the children’s delight.
They dance ’round the flames, singing songs with their friends,
I wish I was with them again.
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  1. […] April 2, 2013 – “Down the Creek Without a Paddle” […]

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