Enhancing Understanding of Effects of Riparian Buffers on Aquatic Ecosystems through Development of Environmental Outreach Tools
Pringle, Catherine M.
MetadataShow full item record
Environmental outreach is an important element in the protection of riparian and aquatic environments. Scientists can play a key role in helping stakeholders understand the role of riparian zones in the ecology of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Toward this end we have developed several outreach and teaching tools which we discuss here. First, we developed a presentation on the function and value of riparian environments (80 slides and accompanying written materials) with emphasis on their importance to the health and biotic integrity of aquatic ecosystems. This 1-2 hour long presentation can be adapted for a wide variety of audiences (local communities, high school, and/or university-level). Distributed throllgh the North American Benthological Society, these materials are being used by a variety of local state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, and academic institutions. Second, we spearheaded the development of a Stream Visual Assessment Protocol (SV AP) through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). SV AP was designed for use by NRCS field staff (who work with agricultural landowners in a nonregulatory capacity) to serve as an introductory screeninglevel assessment method. Third, we developed a 2-day training course for NRCS field staff and partners. The course covers three main topics: (1) basic stream ecology; (2) how to use SV AP; and (3) how to conduct a simple biological assessment using benthic organisms. It is designed in modules to allow for use in a variety of different contexts and includes an instructor's manual, a student workbook, -300 slides, a videotape, a macroinvertebrate training kit, and other materials. Finally, we are developing a field guide for NRCS on stream ecological assessment that is designed to help NRCS field staff with stream assessments and to help landowners understand the importance of healthy riparian zones.