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Keene Central School Otis Brook AsRA

These Kids Know Streams

These kids? These 7th graders from Keene Central School. They know how to measure slope.

Rise / Run.

They aren't daunted by a laser and a survey rod with a receiver on it. They understand how to use a benchmark to find instrument height to track survey measurements taken from one year to the next. And they know that the amount of water moving in a natural stream at maximum flow can be found by measuring the size of cobble in a riffle.

They'll tell you that appropriately-sized culverts let fish, fox, frogs, sticks, and stones pass freely through them. That culverts designed and built to the size of a stream's 100-year flow will allow all the flood water to move through unimpeded. They know this will reduce to nigh zero the amount of times a town road crew has to come and unclog it. (See more about the Otis Brook culvert replacement.)

For them, it's a no-brainer that we all should be caring for streams like this. Not just because of the fish, salamanders, frogs, flowers, bugs, and other wildlife – which are so cool – but because wild water has value in and of itself. It's beautiful to watch, it nourishes life, and it makes us happy to know we take care of it.

We know they know because AsRA's Kelley Tucker and Nicole Pionteck spent a morning and two afternoons with them, their teachers, and some of their parents. After learning basic concepts in the classroom, practicing with their 12th grade mentors in the back field at KCS, they applied their knowledge in the field in June – before we replaced this culvert. And they came back again in November, after our work had time to settle in, to tell us if we got the job done right.

We made the grade.

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