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Volunteers needed to collect data on Opequon Creek

August 11, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A canoe or kayak would be helpful, but is not required.

What is needed is a willingness to spend a few hours in Opequon Creek, collecting information about all invertebrates visible to the naked eye that live in the creek.

The study, coordinated by Alana Hartman, the Potomac Basin coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. and is expected to end in the afternoon with a float to the mouth of the creek at the Potomac River.

Volunteers will enter the creek from private property near Martinsburg, Hartman said.

Finding a lot of invertebrates would be an indication the creek is healthy, but past studies have shown that likely is not the case.

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Future events likely will be held to help with water quality, Hartman said.

Volunteers will use nets to collect data on the invertebrates. Standing in the water, they will scrub rocks with their hands, freeing algae and small creatures, which then will be caught and documented.

It's not all work.

Getting in the water is a chance to cool down, and the trip to the creek's mouth will be for fun, not as part of the study, Hartman said.

A couple of extra canoes will be available, and anyone with a canoe can bring it, possibly allowing more people to participate.

Volunteers will need to bring a lunch and something to drink.

Data collected will be shared with the state's Save Our Streams program, and Hartman said she wants to write a watershed plan compiling what is learned about the length of the creek.

Opequon Creek originates near Winchester, Va., and flows into the Potomac River, which eventually ends in the Chesapeake Bay.

It has been declared a priority project with regard to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, Hartman said, and some portions of the creek have been declared as being impaired.

Pollutants include fecal coliform, nutrients, sediment and trash.

Parallel efforts are under way to clean up the creek in Virginia, where the creek serves as the border between Clarke and Frederick counties.

In West Virginia, the stream is stocked with trout by the Division of Natural Resources and is a popular fishing spot.

For more information, including directions to the put-in site, call Hartman by 4 p.m. Friday at her Romney, W.Va., office at 304-822-7266.

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