The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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July 15, 2011

ODNR seeking help to keep tab on rivers


Within the borders of Ashtabula County flow two state-sanctioned scenic rivers, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources needs helpers to keep these honored waterways as clean as possible.
Later this month, ODNR’s Division of Watercraft will hold two workshops for people interested in keeping an eye on water quality at either Conneaut Creek or the Ashtabula River. These stream-quality monitoring workshops will be held 5 to 7 p.m. July 25 (Conneaut Creek) and July 27 (Ashtabula River).
For the Conneaut workshop, meet at the parking lot opposite the CLYO ball-field complex on Center Road. Folks attending the Ashtabula workshop should gather at Indian Trails Township Park parking lot, at the Smolen Gulf Covered Bridge on State Road.
Students will learn insects can be a barometer of a river’s overall health, said Matthew Smith northeast region Scenic River manager for the Division of Watercraft. Volunteers essentially will become 
detectives, using the bugs they find in water as clues to water quality.
“Some bugs can live only in very excellent water; some can live in very good water, while others can live in just about any water,” he said.
Finding and identifying the insects can give valuable insight into the quality of the river’s water, Smith said. Insect activity also gives clue to fish populations in various parts of the rivers, since bugs are a staple of a fish’s diet.
“From the bugs, you can tell what’s happening in the water,” he said.
The workshops are basically an introductory course in stream quality monitoring, Smith said. Folks who want to continue will receive additional training, along with all the necessary equipment.
ODNR holds stream monitoring programs for all of Ohio’s designated scenic and wild rivers, Smith said. Stretches of the Ashtabula and Conneaut waterways are official scenic rivers, while portions of Conneaut Creek hold the coveted wild river designation. 
The state already has rounded up a few local volunteers but can always use more, Smith said. Service is open to all ages, he said.
“Some people make it a family effort,” he said. “It’s a fun experience in learning science and another way for local citizens to look at the river.”
The workshops will be held rain or shine. For more information or to register, call Smith (330-872-0040) or Billie Jagers, stream quality monitoring coordinator (330-527-2961).

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