Today, Hayden and I went to a training event presented by the Huron River Watershed Council here in Ann Arbor. The intent of the training is to teach volunteers how to “read a river” and take measurements that may be used by professionals to help gauge the health of the river and it its tributaries. These measurements and observations, when compared with others over time, help provide and indication of not only point in time characteristics, but also of trends that may help identify improvements or opportunities.
The training consisted of a classroom session led by Jason and Paul at the HRWC offices followed by a field (or is it stream) training out at the always beautiful Parker Mill County Park. There, we split into two groups.
Jason led the group in learning how to take measurements and observations along “transects” of the stream. Basically, over a 150 foot stretch of a stream, we are to take measurements every 15 feet. At each of those “transects”, we measure the “active” channel width as well as the width of the current water level. The active channel is the full width of the normal width of the stream, and is usually characterized by little or no vegetative growth. At each of those transects we are to take about 15 measurements across the width of the river. These measurements include a reading of where along the transect the measurement is, the depth at that point, as well as an observation as to the type of substrate present (i.e. is the river bed at that exact point boulder, rock, sand, etc.).
After learning how to measure the river using transects, we then were led by Paul in a session in which we learned how to make a map and certain observations about the stream over a 300 foot stretch. Things like vegetative characteristics, types of banks, ripples, pools, etc.
In three short hours we learned a lot that will help us return value to the HRWC as we will soon will move into the field as part of a team that will map and measure a section of stream. If all goes well, perhaps we will choose to do more than one!