Hands on Water Quality Monitoring

Program Name:   Water Quality Monitoring: Bringing Environmental Education to Local Schools

December 2011 –   Ongoing project throughout the Chehalis Basin

Funding Source:   USFWS $2,000                  

Project Location:  Upland Forest, Cozy Valley, the Plateau, Sherwood Forest,           Mill Pond, Mills-Parker Place

Project Description:    This project is a part of a long-term, continuing outreach and education program.  Over the last several years, Heernett Environmental Foundation (HEF) has assisted the Chehalis Basin Education Consortium with their Water Quality Monitoring Program.  HEF would like to continue this effort with a focus in the Scatter Creek Watershed by setting up two permanent Environmental/Water Quality Monitoring Stations on our properties.  One would be located in the headwaters of Scatter Creek, at the Sampson Bridge or Mill Pond, and the second in the mainstem of Scatter Creek, close to the confluence with the Chehalis River, located on the Mills Property at RM 2.

Once these two Environmental/Water Quality Monitoring stations are permanently established, and the sites are confirmed safe for local students to use, HEF would use 2 new complete water quality kits for students to perform tests and record data for analysis.  The different tests performed would be consistent with other ongoing water quality monitoring programs (e.g. Chehalis Basin Education Consortium) so that the data would be compatible and useful in the basin.  These tests will be: pH, Temperature, DO, Nitrates, Phosphates, and Turbidity.

In addition to establishing the new monitoring sites, another component of this project would be to conduct discussions and workshops both in and out of the classroom (Tenino and Rochester area schools and others in the Chehalis basin).  For the last seven years, HEF has gone into the local schools and on fieldtrips with students to discuss ethnobotany, ecology, and hydrology to kindergarten through 12th grade classes. These projects will consist of environmental discussions selected by the teacher, structured activities, and/or tree planting projects.  The USFWS Fisheries Education biologist, Dan Spencer, will coordinate with HEF to participate in classroom visits as well as field trips at these two field sites.  Dan has developed a Youth Fisheries Academy and various fisheries techniques education modules that would complement the HEFs water quality testing and classroom visits.

Watershed:  Chehalis River Basin   Sub-basin:  Scatter Creek  Tributary:  All

Habitat type:  All

Acreage:  throughout the Chehalis Basin

Wildlife usages:   water fowl, raptors, amphibians, salmonids, raccoons, deer, elk, bobcat, beaver, river otter, blue heron,

Issues Project Addresses

  • The Limiting Factors within the project watershed area temperature, and data gaps.
  • Temperature issues within the drainage are due to long reaches of Cozy Valley Creek that run though old agricultural ditches which have minimal shading.  The edges of the ditches are covered with Reed Canary grass, Black berry, wetland sedges and rushes.   This issue is being addressed on the Heernett property, (the entire east end of Cozy Valley) with a restoration project of in-stream enhancements and planting native riparian vegetation, which will take place in the summer and fall of 2002.  The neighboring property in Cozy Valley is currently under proposal as an enhancement project for 2004 with the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.


The end goal will be to enhance ongoing Water Quality Monitoring programs within the Scatter Creek watershed, and to support Environmental Science school programs throughout the Chehalis Basin with grades K -12.  Providing safe and permanent sites for the students to use as outdoor classrooms and/or monitoring stations, as well as, having the ability to support classroom workshops to provide a broader view of watershed dynamics, and the relationship between the hydrologic continently of riparian zones, soils, and water bodies.  This exposure to local natural resources will give these students basic ecological knowledge and tools to make more informed decisions, now and in the future.

Project Milestones:

  • August of 2011 – closed grant
  • September of 2011 – had students conduct fall water quality tests on one Mill Pond site
  • March of 2012 – had students conduct winter water quality tests at Mill Pond site

Education Opportunities: 

  • Data gathering and analysis
  • Environmental Education and Outreach

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Water quality monitoring
  • Data gathering and analysis

Relationship to other projects:

  • This proposed project is complimentary to numerous other restoration and enhancement projects throughout the Scatter Creek watershed, and the Chehalis Basin as it provides critical data and information about the health of the stream system both up and downstream of each testing site.  This information will help to identify trends, locations of concern and future restoration opportunities in the basin.  Therefore, helping to ensure both past and future restoration projects are continuing to provide long-term benefits to all aquatic species.

Monitoring Plan:

  • The information and data collected would be cataloged and used for Heernett educational programs.  It will be available for any State, Federal, or Tribal agency and other non-profit organizations that wish to use this information to aid in their efforts to successfully complete a stream enhancement project.   The project site, data, and ongoing assessments of the project will also be used during tours and presentations sponsored by Heernett to further local and regional environmental education.
  • The products of the monitoring component could provide critical data and information which can be used to fill data gaps and assist in creating a long-term plan to reduce some limiting factors within the Scatter Creek Watershed, and improving the water quality throughout the Chehalis Basin.

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