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Sample aquatic life in the Saugatuck

The Nature Conservancy is hosting its 10th annual macroinvertebrate sampling and training program to monitor the health of the Saugatuck River system, and you are invited to participate in one or both events.

The first part of the morning will be an indoor training on macroinvertebrates and the sampling method. Volunteers will then break into teams and drive out to a river site to take their samples. Staff will move from site to site to offer assistance in the identification of the different organisms.

The first Macroinvertebrate Training and Sampling Event begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Weston Public Library, 56 Norfield Road, Weston, continuing at sampling sites along the Saugatuck River.

The second event will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, in the Community Room at the Redding Community, 37 Lonetown Road), Redding (behind Redding Elementary School, then move to sampling sites along the Saugatuck River

All volunteers work in teams.

Work is usually completed by 9 a.m.

Registration is required by Tuesday, Oct. 1. To register or obtain more information, contact Cynthia Fowx, Saugatuck Forest Lands Office Administrator & Volunteer Coordinator, at The Nature Conservancy, Devil’s Den Preserve, P.O. Box 1162, 33 Pent Road, Weston, CT 06883. She can also be reached at theden@tnc.org, 203-226-4991 Ext. 116 (Phone) or 203-226-4807 (Fax).

All participants are required to register in advance.

New volunteers must submit a liability waiver and information short forms as part of the registratio; contact Fowx if you need these forms, which are also available at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/connecticut/volunteer/index.htm.

The sampling program is part of the Connecticut DEEP’s Rapid Bioassessment in Wadeable Streams & Rivers by Volunteer Monitors (RBV) Program, which provides a way of determining the health of a river system by identifying organisms found in the stream bottom. Data is submitted to CT DEEP for use in water quality assessments. Information can be found at http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2719&q=325606&depNav_GID=1654 or in The Nature Conservancy’s flyer at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/connecticut/volunteer/ct-river-sampling-event-2013.pdf.

Freshwater benthic macroinvertebrates are animals without backbones that are visible to the naked eye and dwell in the bottom of streams. The group includes crayfish, mollusks such as clams and snails, aquatic worms and immature forms of aquatic insects such as stonefly, dragonfly and mayfly nymphs. These organisms have varying tolerances for environmental conditions and therefore are excellent indicators of water quality.

At least two members of each sampling team should go into the water.  The water can be quite chilly, but doesn’t require that you go in above a wadeable height (somewhere between the tops of rain boots and your waist, usually).

Those who volunteer should take a bag lunch and a change of clothes. Dress for the weather and to go in the water (waders or water shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting wet).  Sunscreen and bug spray are also recommended. Some other things you might want to take include a ground cloth or cushion to sit on the ground and sort your samples, a towel in case you get wet and plastic zip-top bag(s) for phone or other items.