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Lower Fox RiverWatershed Monitoring Program

Methods

Authentic science learning happens when students literally become scientists as they explore the health of local streams in partnership with the scientific community. This collaboration creates a rich resource of information about water quality throughout the Fox River Basin. Scientists, municipal leaders, and students use this data to help inform decision-makers and stakeholders within our community.

Each student-teacher team performs seasonal rounds of monitoring at two or more monitoring locations within their selected stream. Sampling is done by all teams within the same 2-3 week period in spring, summer, and fall of each year. Most stream monitoring is performed when streams are wade-able and not affected by recent rain events.

Where do we monitor? 

watershed sampling locations. We monitor seven streams, two locations at each stream. stream.  Six streams are in the Lower Fox River Basin (Apple Creek, Ashwaubenon Creek, Baird Creek, Duck Creek, Dutchman’s Creek and Trout Creek) and one stream, Spring Brook, is located on the Upper Fox River.

Who’s doing the monitoring?

Teachers and students from eleven high schools complete all monitoring activities.  Currently, 17 teachers and over 80 students are involved in the project. More than 600 students have participated in the program since 2003.

  • Apple Creek:  Appleton East High School Appleton North High School
  • Ashwaubenon Creek:  West De Pere High School, Green Bay East High School
  • Baird Creek:  Luxemburg-Casco High School, Green Bay Preble High School
  • Duck Creek:  Green Bay Southwest High School
  • Dutchman’s Creek:  Ashwaubenon High School
  • Spring Brook:  Oshkosh North High School
  • Trout Creek:  Oneida Nation High School, Pulaski High School

What do we measure?

The teams measure water quality parameters three times per year:

  • stream flow (volumetric flow rate in cubic feet per second)
  • temperature (affects the amount of dissolved chemicals, growth rates and survival of aquatic animals)
  • dissolved oxygen (amount of oxygen available to aquatic animals)
  • pH (acidity or alkalinity of the water)
  • turbidity (amount of particles suspended in the water, like soil and silt)
  • conductivity (amount of dissolved ions in the water, like salt)
  • soluble reactive phosphorus (an important plant nutrient, but in excess it can cause huge algal blooms in the river and bay)
  • ammonia and nitrate (an important plant nutrient, also harmful in excess)

We also measure items from the surrounding stream habitat once per year:

  • macroinvertebrates (small organisms that live at the bottom of a stream, like insect larva, snails, worms and clams, indicators of stream health)
  • plants and erosion along the stream corridor (determines habitat quality for wildlife and estimates buffering of run-off pollution into the stream)
  • frogs and toads (amphibians populations are determined by listening to their breeding calls)
  • birds (identified by sight and songs)