Bad River Watershed Association was featured in this year's Earth Day edition of Diane Daulton's "The Water Column" in The Bottom Line News and Views.
The Water Column
by Diane Daulton
Northwoods residents dub this time of year “mud season”, but staying put during mud season in the Lake Superior watershed can be worth its weight in gold, as nature puts on quite a show. Some favorite spring suggestions … thrill in the catch and release of a brookie, witness the enduring power of area waterfalls, or drive to the boonies for a nighttime glimpse of the illusive northern lights. Even homebodies can enjoy the animated ups and downs of springtime weather, perhaps punctuated by an April shower or May flower.
From a water resource professional’s standpoint, mud season is an exciting time, often coinciding with spring runoff. Like March, waters from melting snows or spring rains either roar downstream like lions, or not…sometimes simply dissipating more like the proverbial lamb. The reason for all this excitement? The increased speed and velocity of water as it moves over clay soils and open lands can exacerbate erosion, de-stabilizing streambanks and leading to failures in the form of slumps, or outright collapse of bluffs.
From a trout’s perspective, milk-chocolate colored streams, flooding, and transport of sediments from the upper reaches of the watershed can make it tough to earn a living. The landscape and geology of our region predispose streams like the Marengo River, Bear Trap Creek, and Fish Creek to heavy sediment loads. The good news…key to addressing this concern and is a better understanding of how water flows through a watershed and the how land use practices affect the quantity, quality, timing, and velocity of runoff events.
In keeping with Earth Day’s adage, “Think Globally, Act Locally”, citizens can learn more and help “slow the flow” to protect area streams through activities offered by the Bad River Watershed Association (BRWA). Their association is working to help people better understand how issues like erosion and sedimentation affect our watershed and Lake Superior…“Connecting People, Land, and Water”.
BRWA also has a fish passage program to support native brook trout. By working with towns to identify and upgrade problematic culverts, they have completed restoration of more than 18 miles of trout habitat and have funding for three new projects in 2015. In the Penokees, BRWA still has monitoring plans. Executive Director Tony Janisch stated, “We plan to collect data in the Penokee region, since there is still potential for a mine in the future”. Their strategy is to continue working to establish baseline data, while broadening efforts to cover more of the mineral deposit area. Currently, over a dozen “baseline” sites are established in the Tyler Forks and Upper Bad River sub-watersheds, where sampling for macroinvertebrates is ongoing and submerged data loggers monitor water temperatures hourly, all summer long.
If getting your feet wet monitoring isn’t your thing, BRWA hosts the “Watershed Words Lecture Series” to provide a closer look at the watershed. For more information on upcoming programs, check out their website at http://www.badriverwatershed.org/ or contact Tony at 715.682.2003.
Knowing that some of our Northwoods streams still support brookies is exhilarating, whether you experience their multicoloured splendour from the babbling brook or simply explore the world they inhabit as a visitor. As a tribute to trout everywhere, inspiration comes from 7th grade student Joshua’s poem written as part of an interdisciplinary “trout in the classroom” project at Nichols Middle School in Buffalo, NY. “Gliding ninjas of the sea. You are biracial, I can see. A shadowy top, a radiant belly…Swift as a cheetah, smooth as jelly. You’re initially pretty, then you become something grand. Up to eighteen inches long, you’re now longer than my hand.” excerpted from www.troutintheclassroom.org/.