Volunteers gather 2 years of water
The Daily Press, Ashland, WI
Published February 3rd, 2005
Two years of water quality monitoring was completed with
a recent quality control session. At 13 locations in Ashland,
Bayfield and Iron counties, volunteers for the Bad River
Watershed Association (BRWA) collect simple chemistry
data the first weekend of every month; a process which
takes about two hours.
The resulting database, which gives information on the
health of local rivers, is validated with the group's
annual quality control (QC) test. This year the QC session
was a piece of cake.
Although many residents of NW Wisconsin would attest to
their clean rivers and streams there is little documentation
of this. The Bad River Watershed spans around Ashland
City; west toward Iron River; east to Saxon/Gurney; wouth
to the Town of Morse.
Every puddle, creek and rain swollen river within these
boundaries eventually find their way to Lake Superior
via the Bad River. The citizen monitoring group which
shares the name of this watershed also shares its observations
with the Wisconsin DNR, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior
Chippewa, and the Town of Ashland Roads Dept.
No matter the level of experience a volunteer brings to
the BRWA, they learn to make observations for one of three
important projects; river chemistry, biology, and fish-friendly
road crossings. Mentioned earlier, chemistry samples are
taken monthly. This type of testing provides a "snapshot"
of current water health.
Twice a year macro-invertebrates (small water insects)
are collected from rivers for a "big picture"
view of stream health. Because many bugs living in water
are very sensitive to pollution their presence (or absence)
can point out areas to focus limited resources.
Finally, local fishers may know how to spot healthy rivers
because they can always catch dinner. Despite clean water,
improperly installed culverts prevent healthy fish from
reaching spawning grounds.
To address this, a group of BRWA volunteers are taking
inventory of road-waterway crossings in an effort to prioritize
culverts most in need of replacement.
During the fall of 2004, a culvert was replaced on Billy
Creek, in the Town of Ashland, through a U.S. Fish and
Wildlife grant. A workshop on culvert installation, held
at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, was facilitated
by a Northland College program coordinator; while the
Town of Ashland provided machinery and labor to make this
a successful joint effort.
To find out more about the Bad River Watershed Association
and volunteer opportunities contact volunteer coordinator
Plinio Beres (715) 274-2422 or 682-8188.