River Fest 2015

CHEMUNG RIVER AQUATIC STUDY

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RIVER FEST

ELMIRA, New York

June 6, 2015

FINAL REPORT

NEW YORK STATE FISH AND WILDLIFE

LICENSE # 51

submitted to:

Special Licenses Unit

For New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation

625 Broadway

Albany, New York 12233-4752

&

Ms. Beth Farr/ Near Westside Neighborhood Association

Chemung County, New York

Submitted by:

River Fest Volunteers

&

Finger Lakes Learning Inc.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The individuals and organizations who were involved in the project: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources-Special Licenses Unit; Ms. Beth Farr/ Near Westside Neighborhood Assoc. , Mr. Pete Frei and Mrs. Jacqueline Stonier/ Finger Lakes learning Inc., Kelly Gampel for media coverage (The Elmira Star Gazette) and the twenty one volunteers who help collect and identify specimens.

PREFACE

This was another successful year for our group at the Elmira River Fest program. We are planning to expand our program to area schools and groups this coming year. Our group feels that programs, such as the River Fest Aquatic program helps to build positive educational relationships between residents and local community groups.

Learning about our aquatic ecosystems helps to foster attitudes of protecting the environment. Our Turtle-Amphibian education display helped to answer many questions folks had about our native species found in the region.

Many people have come to realize that our water system is important. As responsible humans, we must take steps to protect all ecosystems. No one will dispute that clean water and a healthy ecosystem is important. Habitat protection is also important in the Finger Lakes of New York. Education will influence how people impact their environment.

Discussion

Our aquatic study was not only to determine the health of the Chemung River, but at the same time to raise environmental awareness and ultimately, habitat protection. Our biotic tests included collecting invertebrates to determine the biotic index.

We do not have abiotic data to report at this event.

LOCATION: Chemung River/Elmira, NY Grove St. site

NYS DEC Aquatic Macro-invertebrate Reporting form  
Licensee Name R. Hurley License # 51 06/06/15
Waterbody Collection Date Site Coordinate Order Name Number Collected Biotic Value Total Biotic Value
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Gerris marginatus water strider 6 10 60
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Gastropoda snail/slug 92 4 368
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Oligochaeta aquatic worm 35 0 0
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Coleoptera beetle 24 8 192
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Ephemeroptera mayfly 1 10 10
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Amphipoda scud 52 6 312
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Cambarus bartoni Crayfish 6 6 36
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Anisoptera Dragon Fly 3 6 18
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Trichoptera caddisfly 7 10 70
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Bivalvia clam 18 6 108
Chemung River/Grove Street Boat Launch 06/06/15 Lat 420 09′ 47”N,Long 76049′ 05”W Hirudinea leech 3 2 6
   
       
total 247 1180
biotic index 47.7
  fair

Write your biotic value index here: 47.7 level fair

Excellent > 80

Good 60-79

Fair 40-59

Poor < 40

*Biotic values and scores are based on NYSDEC publication Biological Stream Testing by Robert Bode.

The Chemung River Aquatic Program was successful again in bringing some education to folks about our freshwater ecosystem . Our Reptile Amphibian display was well attended. Some of the specimens at display included: Painted turtles (Eastern and Midland), Red spotted Newt, Green frog, and several other specimens. We emphasized the importance that these organisms are part of an ecosystem and would be returned where they were found.

Our biotic index, as outlined in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation publication Biological Stream Testing by Robert Bode, indicated a value of . This year the CHEMUNG RIVER tested at a fair level (47.7).

It should be noted that our study is one survey only, and the conditions of a river change throughout the year. Therefore, ongoing water tests would provide more reliable data. More testing should be done throughout the year. There were several participants who commented that the aquatic program was enjoyable and they would do it again. It was educational and interesting for the community folks who participated. We had good media coverage for our part in the event (June 7,2015,Star Gazette article ).

At approximately 4:00 PM we concluded our survey. Approximately people 21 sign in and who worked with the aquatic project.

Many thanks to all those who helped.

Rich Hurley

Environmental Educator

Finger Lakes Learning Inc.

Chemung River Fest Collectors

Date: 6/06/15

Finger Lakes Learning Inc.

Rich Hurley

Jacqueline Stonier

Pete Frei

Community

Sara Looney

Raionna Brewer

Rylan Brewer

Austin Timerman

Ian Hassell

Rebecca Edson

Isabella Collins

Jauanta Andrews

Shane Haskins

Taylor Lamont

Quinn Roberts

Cameron Perry

James Van Houton

Christina Jones

Lora Timonin

Mae Timonin

Helen Timonin

Justin Fuchs

Olivia Blye

Kaylee Leopold

Naomi Scarbourgh

Home Schooling Program Examines Eldridge Lake

ELMIRA, NY – This week, about thirty homeschoolers from the LEAH program joined Finger Lakes Learning (FLL) on Eldridge Lake, in Elmira, to learn about aquatic ecosystems by collecting and counting macroinvertebrates.   The students formed five individual groups and scoured the lake, collecting as many small life-forms as they could find.   The collection and surveying tools, including nets, buckets, and magnifying glasses, and microscopes were provided by FLL.

Students and parents from Elmira/Horseheads homeschooling group scour Eldridge Lake for macroinvertebrates

Students and parents from Elmira/Horseheads homeschooling group scour Eldridge Lake for macroinvertebrates. RICHARD HURLEY / Finger Lakes Learning

The groups successfully collected, identified, and documented 193 macroinvertebrate specimens.

 

ALSO:

See the story on WETM-TV: http://www.mytwintiers.com/story/d/story/elmira-students-study-eldridge-parks-ecosystem/41904/t_JURpDZ7UW62mbAsArEeQ

Visit the LEAH webpage: http://www.leah.org/

 

Brownies Look at Lamoka Lake Feeder

HAMMONDSPORT, NY – The girls in Hammonsport Brownie Troupe 41002 will earn their “World of Water” badge for the work they did this week on Lamoka Lake. The Brownies and their troupe leaders focused specifically on examining the small feeder tributary running into Keuka Lake at Champlain Beach. For about three hours, the troupe focused on collecting data that will be used to assess the health of the aquatic ecosystem in the tributary.

The Learning & Collection

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Hammondsport Brownie Troupe 41002 gathered around Rich Hurley for a crash course in biotic indexing. KEVIN HURLEY/Finger Lakes Learning

9:15 am, the troupe arrived at the park at Champlain Beach and gathered around a picnic table for an introduction by Rich Hurley.  It was a fifteen-minute crash course on biotic indexing.  Hurley explained what macroinvertebrates were and showed pictures to the girls on the identification chart.  They learned that some of these small animals were more resistant to pollution and poor water conditions than others.   They understood that some of the macroinvertebrates were more sensitive to pollution and finding them in the ecosystem would indicate a healthy ecosystem.

The small tributary or “feeder creek” that emptied into the lake was chosen as a the area for research.  The Brownies and their troupe leaders took to the stream with dip nets, trying to gather up as many of the small bugs as they could find.   They spent about 40 minutes in the water learning how to capture the, sometime difficult-to-find, macroinvertebrates.  The girls quickly learned that teamwork would be essential to their success.  A simple swoop of the nets through the water didn’t yield many result.

Firls from Hammondsport Bownie Troupe 41002 hold nets in creek while troupe leaders disrupt the water

Girls from Hammondsport Bownie Troupe 41002 hold nets in creek while troupe leaders disrupt the water. KEVIN HURLEY/Finger Lakes Learning

By working in pairs, one girl could lift the under-water rocks and create a disturbance, while another girl held a net, just downstream to collect everything that was dislodged.  Others held nets from a small bridge as troupe leaders kicked up silt and rocks.

As the young Brownies started to fill their nets with rocks, dirt, plant material, and macroinvertebrate specimens, they would return them to a nearby park table for sorting, before returning to the stream for another shot at collection.

The Counting

As the dip nets returned to the table, they were emptied into large plastic tubs of stream water.  Troupe leaders sifted through the tubs with magnifying lenses and eye droppers, removing any small bit of animal life they could find and transferring it to petri dishes to be counted.   Though some of the small invertebrates were easy to spot, others were small and not immediately found.  In many cases, the keen eyes of the younger girls were more effective at spotting the a slight movement or wiggle of a hidden specimen the tub.

Girls and troupe leaders from Troupe 41002 isolate specimens for counting. KEVIN HURLEY/Finger Lakes Learning

Girls and troupe leaders from Troupe 41002 isolate specimens for counting. KEVIN HURLEY/Finger Lakes Learning

The petri dishes with collected specimens filled up.  Some girls continued searching the tubs for more specimens while others moved into a new group and worked with Hurley and troupe leaders to start the identification process.  One-by-one the girls and leaders examined the small animals and searched for them on the identification chart.  Some of the identifications were more difficult and required closer examination.   With each positive identification, Hurley spoke with the girls about it’s biotic value and had them record a tally mark on the final record.

There were a total of XXX specimens collected and tallied.  Using the method developed by Dr. Robert Bode and used by the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation,  Hurley calculated a a biotic value of 60.73.  The DEC considers that to be in the “fair” range.

The Parameters

“Their attention span went longer than expected, so we went into overtime,” Hurley said.  “Instead of just collecting insects, we did some other evaluations.”

Girls from Brownie Troupe 41002 study water transparency. KEVIN HURLEY/Finger Lakes Learning

Girls from Brownie Troupe 41002 study water transparency. KEVIN HURLEY/Finger Lakes Learning

Most popular, with the girls, was the transparency tube.  After a bit more instruction, the Brownies, collected water from the stream and slowly started pouring it into the tube.  Transparency measure how clear the water it.  Marked at the bottom of the long tube, was a black X.  They poured water into the tube and took turns looking looking down the tube at the black X.  If they could still see it, after adding the water, they would add more.  Once they agreed that the X was no longer visible, they recorded the measurement of water that was needed to make the X dissapear.

The group finished up the day by collecting water surface tension data.  Each of them were given a penny and an eye-dropper.  With water collected from the stream in the eye droppers, the girls added one drop at a time to the top of the penny.  Surface tension causes the water to bead up and stay on top of the penny without running off.  Like a stressful game of Jenga, the Brownies carefully added water to the penny, counting the number of drops, until the surface tension broke and the water spilled over the edge of the penny.

Water surface tension prevents it from running off penny/Courtesy

Water surface tension prevents it from running off penny/Courtesy

The Brownie Troupe finished at noon, with parents returning to pick kids up.

The Findings

Data collected by Troupe 41002 was catalogued and submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The biotic index collected a total odd XXX specimens (more than needed for the survey).  Most of the macroinvertebrates ranged on the lower/mid range with biotic values around 4 and 5.  A final biotic value of 60.73 was calculated from the collected data.  According to the Bode method, the score give the feeder creek a “fair” rating.

The transparency was observed to be about 93cm.  This means that the big X, at the bottom of the tube, disappeared from vision under approx. 93cm of water from the stream.

The surface tension test required an average ~23 drops before of water before running off the penny.

Special thanks to Brownie Troop 41002: Lexy Wilson, Delaney Ollis, Sarah Lyle, Makenzie Anderson, and Brownie troop leaders Katherine Peterson-Lyle, and Ellie Crouch.  Congratulations on your “World of Water” Badge.