Volunteer Monitoring
Monitoring water quality is essential to understand and plan for needed improvements.  With only one full time dedicated watershed coordinator, the Raccoon Creek Partnership needs your help!Landowners, students, classes, and interested citizens throughout the watershed can help by becoming Volunteer Monitors.  Volunteer monitors are trained on proper monitoring techniques and are outfitted with meters and equipment.  The watershed coordinator will then work with you to develop a monitoring plan that best suits you.  Volunteer Monitoring program is a work in progress!  If you are interested in volunteering with Raccoon Creek, please contact Water Quality Specialist, Sarah Landers at sdlanders@gmail.com.  Thanks!

 

Tales of a Volunteer Monitor

By Mike Schooley, RCP Board of Directors

 

I purchased a parcel of land in southern Hocking County in October 2005. One of the main reasons I bought it was the large creek running through the property. I have since come to know this stream as the West Branch of Raccoon Creek. At that time, the fall rains had not started and the creek was limited to isolated pools connected by small trickles. I thought that once the summer drought was over the creek would be my own personal wild scenic river. I walked the creek again the following month once the rains had filled the creek. To my surprise, the creek bottom was covered in a white powder. More than a little worried, I contacted the Ohio EPA who told me the substance was aluminum from abandoned coal mine runoff. They recommended that I contact Ben McCament (Raccoon Creek watershed coordinator) and see if anything was in the works to fix the problem. I felt a lot better when I left the EPA office because I was sure that if it wasn’t already being worked on, then it soon would be. I quickly learned from Ben that this was not the case. He suggested that I begin collecting water quality data, which would hopefully be used to document the need for a cleanup of the surrounding strip mines. Ben set me up with a monitoring device (pH/conductivity meter) and a plan to sample five locations in a two mile area. It’s a beautiful area and a perfect excuse to take a long walk and potentially get out of something I’d rather not do - like mowing grass.

 

The one depressing time of the year is in the summer when the life begins to return to the creek. It’s depressing because I know that when the dry summer ends, the runoff from the mines will return and the creek will be a lifeless void until next summer. I think it might be easier to take if it remained lifeless all year.

 

I have been monitoring every two or three weeks for the last year and never get tired of the job. Sometimes I see a few deer and turkeys and a couple of times I have watched beaver in the creek. Another benefit of getting out in the area is the chance to meet and talk with neighbors.  All of them have been very supportive of cleaning the creek including the owners of the acid-producing abandoned mines. The feeling that we are all in this together gives me hope that the water quality data that I have collected will result a happy ending for the West Branch. Initially, I thought about selling the property when I found out about the coal mine drainage but reconsidered knowing how beautiful the land is and what a natural paradise it will be once it returns to normal. Now, in my new position as the chair of the Raccoon Creek Partnership, I feel that if everyone runs from problems like mine and passes them along to others then nothing ever gets done to resolve these important environmental issues.

 

Become a Volunteer Monitor


There are many opportunites for volunteer monitoring from class projects, individual projects, biological monitoring, chemical monitoring, and more....

For more information about the Raccoon Creek Volunteer Monitoring Program or to become a Raccoon Creek Volunteer Monitor, please contact:

 

Sarah Landers
Raccoon Creek Water Quality Specialist
sdlanders@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteer monitors searching for creatures in the stream Mike Schooley addressing the Raccoon Creek Partnership at the annual meeting Volunteer monitor testing the pH of the stream