Semper Fidelis - Semper Discentes

Posts Tagged ‘volunteer water quality monitoring’

Bryant Creek Assessment Project

In Aquatic macroinvertebrates, Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring on January 2, 2014 at 9:29 am

Originally posted to my former blog, “The Bugs of Booger County”, now defunct, in 2012:

In 2010, a group of friends, all members of the Ozark Chapter of Missouri Master Naturalists and all Missouri Volunteer Water Quality Monitors, began an ambitious project.  We decided to conduct water quality monitoring at least once a year, using both benthic macroinvertebrate sampling and chemical testing, at every mile of the forty-two mile navigable portion of Bryant Creek, a beautiful Ozark stream in Douglas and Ozark counties, Missouri.

After adding in a couple of additional sampling sites, the group covers some forty-nine locations on the creek, which has been divided into multiple segments, each overseen by a Team Captain.   Not only is the information useful, but it’s a great excuse to get out with friends on one of the Ozark’s best streams.

Bryant Creek is part of the North Fork of the White River Watershed, and is a lovely place to fish, swim, or float.  All water quality data is submitted to the State of Missouri’s Stream Team program, and is also compiled into an ongoing report, complete with data, graphs, bells and whistles.The complete text of the report, through 2012, is given in pdf form at the link below.  Sampling and testing for 2013 will probably begin in April.  Anyone who’d like to come along is welcome!

BCAP Ongoing Report

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Missouri Water Conservationist of the Year

In Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring on March 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I must admit that I’m VERY proud of this honor.  Special thanks to my old friend, Marq Mitcham, reporter for the Bastrop (Louisiana) Daily Enterprise for taking the time to call me and interview me for this article:

By Marq Mitcham

March 25. 2013 8:18PM

Former Morehouse Parish resident George Sims was recently named Water Conservationist of the Year for the State of Missouri.

George Sims
PHOTO/ Courtesy photo
George Sims

George Sims was named Missouri’s Water Conservationist of the Year at the Conservation Federation of Missouri’s annual convention in Jefferson City recently.

Sims, who is retired from the City of Bastrop, got involved in the water conversation program shortly after moving from Bastrop to Mansfield, Missouri, with wife Amanda and daughter Susan in 2007.

“We have a stream that runs through our property,” said Sims, who received the Missouri Stream Team Water Quality Monitoring Ambassador Award in 2009. “The water was flowing when we moved here. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it is a seasonal stream— most of the time there is no water.”

He soon found out about the Missouri Stream Team program and became participating in cleanups. Strictly a volunteer organization, the Stream Team program has over 4,000 teams and 80,000 individual volunteers statewide.

“When I first moved up here, I heard about the Stream Team program through the Missouri Department of Conservation’s magazine” Sims said. “I started going to Stream Team cleanups. I would drive 50-100 miles and basically canoe downstream with a lot of like-minded people and we would have a barbecue and beer afterwards. It was a lot of fun for me from the start.”

From there, Sims signed up for one of the organization’s eight-hour workshops in the volunteer water quality monitoring program. Upon completion of the course, the state provides members with the necessary equipment for monitoring the physical, biological, and chemical parameters of Missouri’s rivers and streams.

The program has four levels. In the introductory course, students are taught how to identify aquatic macroinvertebrates (spineless creatures that are large enough to be seen without magnification), which are mostly larval insects, and which can serve as indicators of water quality. Levels 1-3 reinforce the introductory training and introduce chemical testing methods. Sims has advanced to Level 3, which includes less than 100 members.

“We learned how to catch bug larva to help measure water quality. Some bugs thrive in pristine waters, just like others thrive in sewage,” Sims said. “We collect bugs, ID them and send the data to the state. The volunteer water quality monitoring program gives you about $500 worth of equipment, and test you periodically to make sure you know what you are doing.”

Funding for the equipment is provided by the state.  “Some years ago, the citizens of Missouri passed a 1/8-cent sales tax for conservation, so they have money to spend,” Sims said. “That’s why Missouri probably has the best statewide conservation program in the country.”

In less than five years, Sims advanced to Level 3.  “Level 3 is pretty tough,” Sims said. “They sent an examiner down from Jefferson City and we spent about four hours together at one of my monitoring sites. I had to catch and ID every bug in front of him, as well as conduct a half-dozen chemical tests, measure the flow of a river and assess streambank conditions.

“Once you get past that, they figure your data is probably about as good as that provided by the professionals from the department,” Sims said.

Sims has “adopted” four sites the area, including three on Bryant Creek which runs through Douglas County where he resides in the Ozark Mountains. In 2010, Sims organized the Bryant Creek Assessment Project, whereby he and his team took on the task of monitoring forty-nine sites, one mile apart, and covering all 42 “floatable miles” of Bryant Creek, down to its confluence with Norfolk Lake in Ozark County.

Last year, Sims also was part of the group completing the Upper White River Monitoring Project.

In addition to his activities with the Steam Team, Sims also participates in the Master Naturalist program. The workshop training lasted for three months, one night a week. “They teach you about everything from streams and plants to mountain lions,” Sims said. “It’s like a nature club.”

In the mid-1990s, Sims was among the founders of a loosely-organized outdoors group in Morehouse Parish. Some longtime Enterprise subscribers may recall reading about the (exaggerated?) adventures of the Bartholomew Society.

“We sort of talked a good game,” Sims laughed. “It was pretty much an old fellas club. We’d get together and go canoeing and have a fish fry afterwards.”

The Bartholomew Society was born when its founding members, former Bastrop High teacher and Enterprise columnist Mickey McLean, the late Frank Tugwell, former Enterprise editor Tim Franklin and Sims paddled down Bayou Bartholomew from Point Pleasant to Ouachita City on a Sunday in August 1995.  They later climbed Driskill Mountain in Bienville Parish. Although it’s summit reaches a modest 535 feet, Mount Driskill is Louisiana’s highest point.

“We climbed Driskill Mountain, 535 feet above sea level, and Mickey made it sound like a real adventure in his column,” Sims said. “The next thing you know, Mickey and Frank started giving out certificates to people — mostly women — making them charter members. Pretty soon, they had given away about 100 certificates.”

Despite rising to his current status as an award-winning conservationist, Sims hasn’t forgotten his humble roots.

“I have my Bartholomew Society flag hanging behind me in my man cave as we speak,” Sims said during a telephone interview for this article.

Mansfield’s most prominent resident of all-time would be proud of the impact that Sims made during his brief time in the town of approximately 1,300.  Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her series of  “Little House” books in Mansfield, which inspired the “Little House on the Prairie,” television series. “Larua Ingalls Wilder and her husband lived almost their entire adult lives in Mansfield and are buried here,” Sims said.

Sims and his family plan to relocate at the end of the school year as Amanda has accepted a teaching position at Lander Valley High School in Landers, Wyoming at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see which projects Sims attacks next.