ECO calls for biomonitoring volunteers to sample Henderson County streams, rivers

April is almost here, and if you’re an ECO biomonitoring volunteer — you know what that means! Time to sample Henderson County streams and rivers for water bugs! Not an ECO biomonitor? Keep reading!

Please join ECO at Blue Ridge Community College on Saturday, March 24, 2012 from 10-4 for our annual Biomonitoring/SMIE Training! From 10:00 until 12:30 in the classroom, participants will learn about watershed health, aquatic insect identification, tools and tricks for field ID, and the SMIE sampling protocol. After lunch (which will be provided), everyone should plan to carpool to a sampling site at the Big Hungry River, where we will practice the SMIE (Stream Monitoring Information Exchange) sampling techniques in the water. Equipment for sampling will be provided, but participants should plan to bring waders, boots, bottled water, and other appropriate outdoor gear. The fee for new participants is $5, as you will receive a booklet of printed materials. Seasoned volunteers should bring their materials and ID sheets from past training sessions.

“Biomonitoring is a great way to get outdoors, examine some of nature’s wonders, enjoy time with good folks and, at the same time, feel that you’re doing something useful that will ultimately help in the preservation of our rivers and streams,” says Lee McCall, a veteran biomonitoring volunteer. And it’s true− this program is a vital part of ECO’s monitoring efforts across the county to monitor the health of our streams and rivers. During April and October of each year, over 30 dedicated volunteers don their boots and waders to sample 26 sites for aquatic life, mainly under rocks, logs, and on the stream bottom for “benthic macroinvertebrates,” or water bugs. These insects are used as biological indicators, meaning that some are more sensitive and tolerant than others to pollution or changes in water quality. By identifying these creatures, we can combine the data with our chemical and visual monitoring programs to understand what if affecting the health of the overall ecosystem. The SMIE protocol is used regionally by other environmental groups and volunteers to monitor watershed health at a community level.

Registration for this workshop is required by March 20, 2012. Please call the ECO office at 828-692-0385 to sign up. Visit us online at for more information on our water quality programs.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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