In early June this year, 14 community members came out to the annual Madison Stream Team training in Ennis. For many of these volunteers, this has become a sort of yearly ritual. They show up with their hip waders as they wait for instruction of their tasks for the coming season. Some of these volunteers visit the same streams each year, while others embark on new territory. They lay claim to these streams, and they commit to spending the next three months ensuring that they are looked after.
These dedicated members of the Madison Stream Team are part of a larger network of people from all around the country who participate in similar programs. These engaged community members have a desire to learn more about the landscape in which they live, and they wish to better understand the conditions of the resources within the landscape. Furthermore, they aim to help the community, as a whole, better understand the health of the water resources in the valley.
The work of the Madison Stream Team is widespread and far reaching. This past summer, these 14 citizen scientists spent over 200 hours conducting stream monitoring on 8 streams. In all, they covered 41 sites with 19 different landowners. Of the six years that this program has operated, this was by far the largest and most ambitious effort yet. The streams that were monitored this summer included: Blaine Spring, North Meadow, South Meadow, Moore Creek, O’Dell, Indian Creek, Jack Creek, and the West Fork. Typical monitoring of these streams looks at: streamflow, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, water clarity, and nutrient levels.
The result of this large monitoring effort is a collection of incredible data. This data will be analyzed, and then put into an annual report that is made available to the public. Additionally, the information will be presented in a public format to the community at the annual “State of the Water” address in spring 2016. All of this information can then be used to provide the community with a useful too that can help guide future opportunities to keep streams in the Madison Valley in a healthy state.
In addition to having great volunteers, this program also has some incredibly dedicated partners who believe in the goals of the Madison Stream Team. These partners include local non-profits, state agencies, and even local businesses that have gotten into the “spirit” of supporting clean water.
The Madison Stream Team is truly a community-driven effort, and we are very thankful for everyone who has contributed their time, energy, and dollars over the past six years to ensure that we have quality information to base our water resource management decisions. To our volunteers, we thank you, and we look forward to working with you once again next year. If you would like to learn how you can be a part of the Madison Stream Team, or how you can help support the program, contact Ethan Kunard, the Water Programs Manager with the Madison Conservation District.