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Get Your Feet Wet: Help Protect Rivers in Weston

WESTON, Conn. – Within the thousands of miles of streams carved into Connecticut's landscape lie a host of aquatic species – from fish to those undetectable by the naked eye. These bodies of water have provided us with means of transportation, livelihood and recreation for centuries. Our rivers make Connecticut unique and appealing.

The Nature Conservancy's Saugatuck River Watershed Partnership will host its eighth annual Rapid Bioassessment in Wadeable Streams & Rivers by Volunteer Monitors. This is a citizen-based water-quality-monitoring program developed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Volunteers will learn to identify the macroinvertebrate species found in the stream bottom, which will provide insight into the health of the local river system. Indoor trainings will take place Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Norfield Grange at 12 Goodhill Road, Weston, and Sunday, Oct. 16, at the Redding Community Center in the Community Room at 37 Lonetown Road, Redding. Training will begin at 9 a.m. on both days and will be followed by river sampling at sites in the Saugatuck River Watershed until 2 p.m. The data will then be submitted to the state as part of its statewide water quality assessments.

A total of 242 miles of stream flow within the local Saugatuck River Watershed, which includes multiple smaller watersheds: the Aspetuck River, the Little River and the West Branch of the Saugatuck River. Little expertise is necessary to note the general health of a stream. In fact, a great deal can be inferred from the clarity of the water, the algae population and the texture of the stream bottom. In some cases, actions may need to be taken to ameliorate the problem of deteriorated water quality. Restoration projects can include stream bank planting, dam removal, storm water management and, in some cases, restoring flow.

Protecting the health of this river system is a priority for the Nature Conservancy, the 11 municipalities within the watershed and many other groups and individuals who want to protect natural resources.

For more information or to register, contact Cynthia Fowx at the Nature Conservancy's Devil's Den Preserve at 203-226-4991, Ext. 116, or theden@tnc.org . All interested individuals must register by Tuesday, Oct. 11.

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