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Backyard Art

October 2, 2014
Jim Caldwell
Volunteering

A few weeks back I had the good for­tune to visit Ire­land for the first time.  What I heard was true, the scenery was spec­tac­u­lar.  While I cer­tainly got my fill of rolling coun­try, stone walls, and hill­top cas­tles; being a stream guy, I have to admit I was in awe of the pris­tine, text book exam­ples of healthy streams through­out Ire­land -  veg­e­tated banks, acces­si­ble flood plain, rif­fles and pools; all indi­ca­tors of a stream in the prime of its life.  The water was crys­tal clear and the bot­tom rocks were free of sed­i­ment — signs that the macro inver­te­brate pop­u­la­tion (bugs) was plen­ti­ful.  These bugs, the food sup­ply for fish, were the rea­son we fre­quently saw fly– fish­er­man wad­ing in the water in search of their evening meal.  Yes, some trav­el­ers are taken by archi­tec­ture, oth­ers by art, but me, I look for the won­der of nature in these far­away places.

Yes, vaca­tions are a great escape, but we do not need to travel across the Atlantic to catch a glimpse of a good look­ing, healthy stream.  We have them right here in Howard County.  The major­ity of us live within 1,000 feet of a stream.  While we have many good qual­ity streams scat­tered about the county, oth­ers suf­fer from the effects of stormwa­ter runoff with eroded banks, silted bot­toms and con­stricted flood­plain. Streams are liv­ing sys­tems and even the unhealthy ones can recover with our help.  How­ever, we first have to find them in our back­yards and under­stand their con­di­tion.  Then we can cham­pion their protection.

To help iden­tify your nearby stream we have devel­oped a Stream Finder com­puter appli­ca­tion.    All you need to do is enter your street and house address and the map will locate a stream within walk­ing dis­tance from your prop­erty.  The map will also iden­tify the name of the water­shed where you live.  Try it out: http://data.howardcountymd.gov/GStreamFinder/GStreamFinder.asp.  Hope­fully you will find a great exam­ple of a healthy stream near you.  If not, work­ing together we can begin to bring that stream back to health.

Wouldn’t it be great to think that Irish vis­i­tors to our area would go home and write about our beau­ti­ful streams and their role in the build­ing a healthy Chesa­peake Bay watershed?

Jim Cald­well
Stormwa­ter Manager
 
August 2014