Volunteers Help Nonprofit Monitor Deckers Creek
Morgantown Dominion Post
17 May 2012
THIS COLUMN highlights positive experiences that regularly occur
in the Morgantown area. The hope is that spotlighting such
experiences will remind people of the friendliness that defines
the majority of West Virginia’s Mountaineer nation.
FOR SOME PEOPLE, getting dirty is part of the job.
For others, occasionally getting dirty, and wet, is their
contribution to the community’s quality of life.
These are the 200-300 people who volunteer each year to take the
temperature of Deckers Creek, count the fish in it, collect bugs
along the stream and pick up trash along highways and trails.
This year, another 40 or so will be added to handle a new
challenge, said Elizabeth Wiles, the new executive director of
Friends of Deckers Creek (FODC).
FODC has received funding through the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) Environmental Justice Small Grants program to train
volunteers to regularly test water at 40 locations in the
watershed to establish a water quality baseline.
These volunteers are the citizen scientists being trained in the
various testing procedures they have agreed to do every other week
for a year at a particular location, she said.
Thirty are in this group. Another dozen is expected to join them
following the training in July.
FODC also has a Shovel Corps, she said. It works with Martin
Christ, the group’s water remediation director, to maintain the
organization’s Acid Mine Drainage remediation projects.
These projects are neutralizing the acid mine drainage seeping
into the Deckers Creek Watershed.
This month, FODC started its stream macroinvertebrate sampling,
another program handled by volunteers who are not afraid of what
you might find in a wild stream like Deckers Creek.
“We have ongoing monitoring that’s part of our clean creek
program,” Wiles said.
Also collected by volunteers, that data is used to determine what
areas of the watershed need additional help to eliminate
pollutants, and to establish priorities for projects.
“We know what our projects are supposed to be doing, and the data
will help let us know that our projects are working correctly,”
“During the course of the year, we have from 200-300 volunteers
helping with water monitoring, bug sampling and sorting, fish
sampling and sorting, highway cleanup, and smaller tasks with
These volunteers make the programs possible.
An environmental conservation program, FODC needs specific data to
determine how to best target its assets, as well as how
effectively the programs operate.
This is especially true for the citizen scientist program, she
said. “Within the staff here, we don’t have the capacity to go out
and take this data at 40 different sites.”
It’s important to have environmental data and information on a
watershed, especially if a location will be affected by Marcellus
shale gas drilling, she said.
It also helps identify pollutants not associated with gas
drilling, and pinpoint their source.
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