Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Volunteers needed for river assessment

By Journal Inquirer Staff
October 1, 2005

VERNON — Environmental groups are looking for volunteers to help with an ongoing biological assessment of the Hockanum and Tankerhoosen rivers on Saturday, Oct. 8.

Volunteers will collect and examine critters — insects, worms, mollusks, and crustaceans — that live on the stream bottom.

According to Ann Letendre of Friends of the Hockanum River Linear Park the organisms to be studied are called benthic macroinvertebrates, and tell a lot about the health of rivers.

"Like the canaries that were once carried into coal mines to detect poisonous gases, these organisms are the 'canaries' of our streams," Letendre said. "Some are more tolerant of pollution than others, so the types and abundance found can indicate whether a stream is clean or polluted," she said in a statement.

No experience is necessary. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. at the Tolland Agricultural Center, 24 Hyde Ave., for a training workshop.

Teams will then complete the assessment at selected river sites. The Connecticut River Watch Program is a nationally recognized, Environmental Protection Agency award-winning citizen monitoring program directed by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, according to Letendre.

The program provides an opportunity for citizens to take an active role in assessing and protecting their rivers and streams, she added.

A study of the Hockanum River watershed was initiated with local partners, including the North Central Conservation District and Hockanum River Watershed Association, six years ago, Letendre said.

For further information contact Letendre, 875-4623, or Paul Woodworth of the Conservation District, 860-346-3282.