This summer, AsRA's new River Steward, Liz Kamb, is providing useful information about protecting and enjoying the Ausable River to visiting and resident river users. Most often she's working along the river corridor, talking with the public about river health and invasive species prevention, but Liz can also be found at local public events and participating in several monitoring projects. If you see her at any of the following locations this summer, stop to see what she's up to! There's always something exciting happening on the Ausable.
Along Route 86 and River Road - Providing Education and Outreach for AIS prevention
The river steward is AsRA's primary voice for spreading the word about Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention to the public. Although there are no known AIS in the Ausable River and its tributaries, the prevention of their introduction is essential to conserving our river's health. If AIS do arrive in a healthy river system like ours, it will likely be difficult to eradicate them completely. To accomplish her goal of raising public awareness, Liz maintains wader wash stations at pull offs along River Road and Route 86 to provide anglers and other river users with a convenient place to wash their equipment before and after excursions in the Ausable River. Scrubbing with the 5% saline solution in the wash tubs exterminates any AIS attached to equipment without harming the gear. The stations also provide brochures with more information about preventing AIS spread.
In the mornings and evenings, Liz can be found with her clipboard conducting river user surveys. These include a series of simple questions that provide AsRA with useful information about what types of equipment are used in the Ausable and if and how anglers clean their gear. Liz chats with anglers about where on the river they were fishing and about any waterbodies they fished previously that might contain invasive species. Liz will also be joined by AsRA's summer intern Davi Bendavid to survey riverbanks for terrestrial invasive species using the iMapInvasives app. This is a user-friendly and convenient tool that crowd sources public data on invasive species infestations so anyone can monitor infestations in their area.
Along with the wader wash stations, AsRA's river user surveys and invasive species monitoring efforts are funded by a Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) grant. LCBP has supported the River Steward program since 2010 and has resulted in increased awareness and increased AIS prevention actions among river users. Public awareness and education are integral to continuing prevention and, in case of an infestation, early identification, and reductions in invasive species populations in the Ausable watershed.
On the Water - Monitoring for River and Lake Water Quality
Every month this summer, Liz will be assisting with lake water quality monitoring efforts within the Ausable watershed. These include the headwaters of the West Branch at Upper and Lower Ausable Lakes, Cascade Lakes, and Taylor Pond. Water quality monitoring efforts at these locations broaden our understanding of, and ability to respond to three priority threats to the watershed: road salt, phosphorus, and climate change. Read more specifically about these threats on our website. Water quality monitoring is essential to understanding these challenges, developing plans to mitigate them, establishing goals, and evaluating and quantifying progress.
Liz will also be conducting stream monitoring of the East and West Branches and Main Stem of the Ausable River and its tributaries on a bi-weekly basis. The sampling begins early in the morning at the start of the West Branch on Adirondack Loj Road, continues to the Main Stem, all the way to Ausable Chasm, and back up the East Branch to Chapel Pond. For both the Ausable River and its contributing lakes, Liz collects data on temperature, oxygen content, salt content, and pH (acidity). These data, when collected on a regular schedule over an extended period of time, can tell us a lot about how our actions as humans affect the physical and chemical characteristics of the Ausable watershed. Monitoring the entire river and key lakes can also inform us about the diverse habitats that are available within the watershed and how they shift over time.
Representing AsRA at local events
Liz will also be representing AsRA at many local events this summer. Look out for her providing AsRA outreach materials or presenting pop-up wader wash demonstrations at farmers markets, Ride for the River, the Ironman Village, and stay tuned to learn about hiking and paddling tours led in July. She has already attended the Mountaineer Trail Run and the Two Fly Challenge; these events are excellent opportunities for Liz to reach out to the local community about AsRA's efforts to restore and protect the health of the Ausable River.
Since the program kicked off in 2010, thousands of locals and Adirondack visitors have benefited from information provided by the river steward - gaining knowledge about the Ausable River and its importance to our local ecosystems and communities. Liz is excited to kick off the River Steward program's 9th season by carrying on the great work of past river stewards and inspiring responsible stewardship among all those who live, work, and play in our watershed.