January 5, 2005

Streamwalk study earns state award

MADISON COUNTY - On Oct. 13, the New York State Association of Environmental Management Councils awarded the Dutchess County Environmental Management Council the EMC Outstanding Project Award for 2004 for the Fishkill Creek Streamwalk Study.

Streamwalk studies are designed to assess and evaluate the natural resources and problems of a stream while walking through it. The distinguishing feature of the Fishkill Study was its scope. During the course of Fishkill Creek Streamwalk Study, thirty-seven volunteers assessed approximately sixteen miles of the Fishkill Creek, the second largest watershed in Dutchess County. This level of volunteerism was exceptional for a project of this nature, demonstrating the enthusiasm of local residents and the Dutchess EMC to gather information and assess the condition of Fishkill Creek, the County's second-largest watershed.

Volunteers participating in the study donated approximately 477 hours in the field. Volunteers attended mandatory training sessions before participating, allowing them to gain a detailed awareness of the environmental characteristics of streams, including knowledge of hazards that were potentially dangerous to the health of Fishkill Creek. Overall, the Streamwalk brought volunteers into direct contact with the creek and created the opportunity to better understand how the resource functions as well as its relationship to the larger community.

In addition, to the significant contribution of volunteer time, in-kind services were provided by the Dutchess County EMC and the Dutchess County Soil and Water Conservation District. A small grant of almost $2,000 was also secured to help support the project that in actual costs has been estimated at nearly $16,000. In the end, fifty-five impaired sites were identified. The entire project was successfully documented with over 700 digital photographs and 90 Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates identifying dams and impairments. The digital photos and other information related to the project have been posted on the Internet at: [http://FishkillCreekWatershed.org/sw/].

According to Mikel Shakarjian, Vice President of NYSAEMC, this project was chosen as outstanding "not simply because of its scope and positive impact on the environment, but also for its demonstrated ability to raise public awareness locally and throughout the state by expanding volunteerism efforts. Other counties looking to conduct streamwalk studies have much to gain by evaluating the success of Dutchess County's Fishkill Creek project, and by using it as a model."

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