Alabama Water Watch and the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) teamed up with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System for the Alabama’s Living Streams module of the new Alabama Master Naturalist (AMN) Program. Doyle Keasal, Alabama Master Naturalist Program Coordinator, organized the event.
The Alabama Master Naturalist Program has been developed to promote awareness, understanding, and respect of Alabama’s natural world among its citizens and visitors. The Program will strive to educate participants about our State’s natural resources while also helping to develop a statewide corps of well-informed volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities (taken from the AMN brochure, available at www.aces.edu/forestry/amn ).
Bill Deutsch discusses citizen role in watershed stewardship
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Presentations were given on the AU campus in the morning, followed by a field trip to Saugahatchee Creek in the afternoon. During the morning session, Doug Darr, ADCNR Aquatic Education Coordinator, gave an overview of the diversity of aquatic systems throughout Alabama, which contains the greatest diversity of aquatic creatures (fish, snails, mollusks) in the United States. Eric Reutebuch, AWW staffer, followed with a discussion on management of aquatic systems, and overview of threats to Alabama’s waters. Bill Deutsch, AWW Program Director concluded the morning with a discussion on understanding the role of citizens in watershed stewardship of Alabama’s streams, rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
The group traveled out to Saugahatchee Creek in the afternoon to get hands-on experience in sampling aquatic critters. Sergio Ruiz-Cordova gave a streamside overview of stream biomonitoring. He discussed how to sample the macroinvertebrate community (aquatic insects, snails, clams, crayfish), and then how to calculate an assessment of stream health from the sample. Participants proceeded to collect critters with nets and seines. A total of 15 different aquatic species from all three of the AWW groups were collected (Group 1 are sensitive to pollution, Group 3 are pollution-tolerant, and Group 2 are in between). This diverse community yielded an assessment rating of EXCELLENT for the Saugahatchee!
Doug completed the afternoon with a fish-seining exercise. With a couple of sweeps of the seine, the group was able to capture several fish species, including various stream shiners, sunfishes, and a catfish. Doug emphasized that collection of fish, crayfish, mussels and aquatic snails may require permits from the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division.
Twenty-two individuals from all over the state participated. Several expressed interest in getting involved in watershed stewardship and Alabama Water Watch.