A volunteer program called streamwalk was conducted between May and August of 2004 along the main stem of the Fishkill Creek. Stream Walk is a volunteer-based program for visually assessing the condition of a stream. This program was designed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and implemented by the Lower Hudson Coalition of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Dutchess County Environmental Management Council.
A stream survey serves two purposes: resource evaluation through data collection and community involvement and education. Through the survey, volunteers collect information on existing physical conditions of in-stream and streamside characteristics of the streams in a river basin. This information can be used later to identify resource needs and to plan conservation measures in the basin. It should be noted, the information collected through the stream survey was not a complete assessment of the problems in or along the stream. Rather, the survey acted as a first step in establishing an understanding of the condition of the watershed.
Equally important as the data collected, is the educational role of the streamwalk. Through a training program, local volunteers received a basic course in stream ecology, morphology, water quality, non-point source pollution, and the relationship between a community and its river. The training session increased volunteers' awareness and understanding of potential impairments to the health of a river. What volunteers learned in the training session was reinforced when they conducted the survey itself. The survey brings volunteers into direct contact with a river and creates the opportunity for them to understand better the way a river system works and the relationships between their communities and the river.
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