Clean Water Concert Series

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Clean Water Concert Series at the Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, ME. The Clean Water Concert Series is a partnership with the Kittery Trading Post, the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP), and the Spruce Creek Association to benefit Spruce Creek’s water quality monitoring project.

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The Spruce Creek Association is a group of waterfront, non-waterfront residential and commercial property owners and renters. The group is also made up of seasonal and year-round residents, taxpayers, and voters who are committed to protecting the Spruce Creek Watershed. Their mission is to “provide an organized framework to coordinate the assessment of the Spruce Creek watershed’s conditions and to implement and monitor proven management practices that support environmental and economic stability for the Spruce Creek Watershed.”

The Spruce Creek Watershed is located in southern Maine and drains 9.8 square miles in the communities of Kittery and Eliot. Adjacent to the Piscataqua River, the creek is tidal with a significant estuarine area of approximately 2.25 miles long and 0.5 mile wide.

Unfortunately Spruce Creek is located in a residential area and development pressure has lead to an impairment in the creek.  Recent monitoring efforts show that Spruce Creek contains high levels of bacteria and toxic substances from storm water runoff and groundwater seepage. Shellfish harvesting has been negatively affected because of the impairment and many shellfish beds have been closed for health concerns. To address the impairment the Spruce Creek Association has been conducting water quality monitoring surveys both at end of pipes and for nonpoint sources of pollution.

For more information about their ongoing projects visit http://www.sprucecreekassociation.org/projects.html

To raise awareness about the organization and to educate residents about the association and ways to improve water quality in the Spruce Creek, the association has partnered with the Kittery Trading Post to host a series of three concerts throughout the summer as part of the Clean Water Concert Series. PREP has been involved in helping coordinate and organize the concert and to help table at the event.

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The third and final concert for the series will be help Wednesday, September 3 from 6 PM to 8 PM on the front lawn of the Kittery Trading Post. The event is free and is a fun family and dog friendly way to get out an enjoy the end of summer while support a great cause to clean up Spruce Creek. For more information about the concert series please visit http://www.ktpevents.com/interior.php/pid/11/eid/701

Photos courtesy of http://www.sprucecreekassociation.org/sprucecreek.html

 

 

Eel Encounters in the Hudson River Estuary

Last Friday I got to get out of the office and into some waders!  I volunteered to help out with a SUNY grad student’s fieldwork for the day, which involved catching and measuring eels.  Fieldwork I’ve done in the past has mostly consisted of measuring trees and collecting mushrooms and leaf litter…I gained a new appreciation for these stationary research subjects.  Eels are tricky!  All in all, we caught over 100 eels in a couple of hours.  This involved wading through the river, one person with an electroshocking backpack and two with nets, ready to scoop up the temporarily shocked eels (they recover!).  We took the bucket of eels back to the shore for a variety of measurements, then released them back into the stream.

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Conversations about Hudson River Shorelines

Shorelines PhotoToday was a great day!  The last two weeks have been packed with planning and preparing for the Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines Project (HRSSP) workshop – a day-long training for engineers, landscape architects, ecologists, and regulators to share some of the information and tools produced by the HRSSP.  For the past 8 years, the Reserve and its partners have been working to engage end-users, conduct research, produce tools, and implement case studies to provide guidance on making shorelines more sustainable on the Hudson River.

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Monitoring Change, Among Other Things

Greetings from the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Greenland, New Hampshire! I can’t believe I’ve already been working at GBNERR for almost two months. I’ve learned so much already and met so many talented and engaged people who are working on issues like climate change adaptation and nutrient pollution in New Hampshire and Maine.

photo-10One thing that has struck me during my experience in the TIDES Program thus far is how well the curriculum meshes together. During my brief time at the reserve, I have already been able to apply the skills and knowledge learned during my first year of course work, including planning public participation events, conducting interviews, and using wetland sampling techniques and GIS.

One of the many topics we covered this year is the importance of high-quality environmental monitoring data. Continue reading

A Kayaker’s View of Great Bay

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As an aspiring marine educator, I always struggle with the best educational tools that I can use to teach people about the importance of X topic. To me, simply telling people in a lecture is not effective, nor is reading about it in a textbook. Experiencing what you are learning about in a hands-on manner has been shown to be the best way to get someone engaged in the topic. John Dewey, a pioneer in the social science and education world, talked about the importance of a learning experience. He stated that learning only occurs through experience in his book Experience and Education. However, there are two types of experiences that Dewey addresses; if an educative experience occurs this will cause the person’s learning to grow and foster, whereas a miseducative experience can halt or severely hinder future learning. Most commonly this theory of experience is applied to a more structured form of education. Yet, it is one theory that has great importance for one of my favorite types of education, kayak education. Continue reading

The long and winding road of public participation

One of the questions I keep getting is, “So what do you actually do?”  The work that the TIDES program prepares you to do does not necessarily fit in to the familiar categories of professions.  I like to refer to it as “environmental problem solving,” but that is not a very tangible career path.

Right now I am working on developing a stakeholder engagement plan to inform and involve the public in the development of a marsh management plan at Piermont, the HRNERR’s southernmost site along the river.  Here’s some background – maybe longwinded, but there’s a lot of layers – bear with me!  Last year, the New York State Thruway Authority got a permit approved to demolish the existing Tappan Zee Bridge between Rockland and Westchester Counties and construct a new one.  This project involves a variety of impacts, including dredging, construction of permanent fixtures, and “incidental take” of Atlantic and short nose sturgeon, which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, due to overfishing and habitat degradation.

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Tappan Zee bridge construction in the distance, from Tallman Mountain State Park

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The Festival that Saved a River

Clearwater1The Great Hudson River Revival!  What a perfect way to get a glimpse into the history of environmental challenges and grassroots activism in the Hudson Valley.  In the 1960s, Pete Seeger wanted to “build a boat to save the river.”  He held small concerts to raise money to build the sloop Clearwater.  This ship has provided a unique venue for environmental education and inspired activism to fight for a clean Hudson.  His concerts grew into the Clearwater Festival, the largest annual environmental celebration in the country.  Now the festival helps fund the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc., a nonprofit that supports the educational programs and keeps the boat up and running.

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Farewell and Welcome!

Congratulations to the 2014 graduating TIDES cohort (Abbie, Cristina, Christos, Will, Natasha)!

Congratulations to the 2014 graduating TIDES cohort!

Congratulations to the 2014 graduating TIDES cohort!

As my fellow TIDES students and I (2013 interns) are moving on to new adventures (PhD pursuits, prestigious fellowships, government jobs and internships, and other paths), I wanted to introduce to you the TIDES class of 2015 (2014 interns). I am very proud to say that we have another excellent group of individuals learning how to integrate ecosystem science with decisions to help solve complex coastal issues. Meet the new interns:

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CERFing the West Coast!

TIDES students (Natasha, Will, Cristina, Abbie, and Christos) are concluding their internships with National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) sites around the country. They are also beginning to share their work with scientists and professionals from all over the world. Last week, Natasha (Natallia) Leuchanka (Chesapeake Bay NERR) and Cristina Bourassa (Tijuana River NERR) had the honor of sharing their research, experiences, and collaborative projects at the 22nd Biennial Conference of the Coastal Estuarine and Research Federation (CERF) in San Diego, California.

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