A Report on Opequon Creek Activities – June 17, 2023
On June 17, TOW hosted three events on Opequon Creek: a float trip, a picnic, and a water quality monitoring demonstration. All were based at Fiddler’s Bottom, the home of Deb and Steve Bauserman, located east of Ridgeway, West Virginia.
Floaters arrived at 9:00 a.m. and shuttled to the put-in point just below Brucetown Bridge. Although rainfall had been scarce and water levels were low, the kayakers found plenty to enjoy along the way including wildflowers, leafed-out trees, songbirds, and a bald eagle’s nest.
The float ended at the Bausermans’ farmstead. Steve had grilled the chicken the night before, and picnickers brought food to share. We were all grateful for the hospitality, the food, and the shade.
After lunch, we went back to the edge of Opequon Creek.
Callie Sams, coordinator of the WV Department of Environmental Protection’s Save Our Streams (SOS) program, told us about the WV SOS program. It’s a statewide network that’s coordinated by the DEP. Save Our Streams trains citizen volunteers to assess and monitor water quality of wadeable streams in the state.
She demonstrated the standardized techniques used to collect stream invertebrates. TOW members helped with the collecting and then used pages from the SOS manual to identify the organisms and see how water quality metrics can be calculated.
Periodically, SOS volunteers make observations and gather data at their assigned stream stations. They characterize physical features, conduct simple chemical tests, and catch insects and other aquatic invertebrates. This information enables them to determine the water quality at their stream segment at that time. These details go into a public database that allows the overall condition of the watershed to be evaluated.
The WVSOS program offers full workshops to train volunteers to become certified stream monitors. If enough volunteers step forward, TOW may be able to set up a SOS monitoring network on Opequon Creek and its tributaries. Virginia also has its own SOS program.
To learn more about the West Virginia SOS Program, check online at dep.wv.gov/WWE/getinvolved/sos/Pages/default.aspx
Information about Virginia’s SOS Program appears at www.vasos.org