Saturday, September 29, 2012

On this clear September day...

you can see the bottom of the river.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tagging Mussels

Today was a great day to tag mussels, a bit rainy and mostly cloudy.  We showed up at 10AM at the research facility along with a downpour.  But things quickly settled down and a routine was established to tag the mussels from Pennsylvania.
They have been in holding tanks all week.
They all had to be scrubbed off.
Then they were taken indoors and tagged and recorded. 

We were able to completely scrub, tag, and record two of the four tanks by the time I had to leave around two. The plan was to tag the other two tanks on Thursday, September 6th. Then, the mussels are to be set in their new homes in the Salt Fork and Middle Fork of the Vermilion River. More information can be found about this wonderful project in a recent News Gazette article.
These mussels include Clubshell (Pleurobema clava) and Northern Riffleshell (Epioblasma rangiana). Can you tell which is which?

No great knowledge was required to help in this stage of the project. There was an abundance of very knowledgeable biologists and students to help with any questions or problems. They were also very willing to share their expertise with the volunteers. It was great to be a part of this project. Thanks for allowing local volunteers of all skill levels to help.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Concern for the Salt Fork River

A propsed coal mine for the area has us very concerned about the Salt Fork River.  There has been talk of removing water from the Salt Fork to wash coal. Then return water, which has washed coal, to the river.  Stand Up to Coal has more information about the propsed coal mine.  Please inform yourself and join us in whatever way you can to oppose the proposed Bulldog Mine.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bald eagles and nest sighted on the Salt Fork!

     While canoeing on the Salt Fork River Sunday afternoon, June 3rd, four of us saw an adult bald eagle take off down the river channel and then we spotted the nest with one chick!  The nest is located in a large sycamore tree on the left back (if one is headed downstream) approximately 1/2 mile downstream of 400E, Runyan Bridge, and before you reach Conkeytown.   All three forks of the Vermilion River system, the North Fork, Middle Fork, and now the Salt Fork, have active bald eagle nests.  Incredible!  As far as I know, this is the first bald eagle nest to be noted on the Salt Fork River.
      We had a leisurely trip in clear water from 300E, Butler Bridge, to 700E, the mouth of Stony Creek,  in a canoe and two kayaks.  This is a beautiful stretch of stream in Vermilion County with high bluffs, rock riffles, and the historic Conkeytown mill site in a beautiful sandstone bluff.   It was a great day for a float down the Salt Fork. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Green Dragons along the Salt Fork

If you are out paddling this Memorial Day weekend, see if you can spot  a green dragon. They will not harm you, are not at all scary and are a thing of unique beauty.  Green Dragons (Arisaema dracontium)  are a  native perennial. They are  now out and blooming along the shady floodplains of the Salt Fork River. The plant is about three feet tall and will  have a naked white flower stalk.The one pictured here also has a small offshoot which is one way they spread.   Sometimes you get lucky and find a group of Green Dragons.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Coal Mining and the Salt Fork River

Sunrise Coal, of Terre Haute, Indiana, has been planning to develop a coal mine in an approximately 70 square mile area of Vermilion and Champaign counties, and over the past two years has been obtaining leases for mineral rights from landowners. Recent articles in both the News-Gazette and The Leader have reported that the Village of Homer is partnering with Sunrise Coal to provide the necessary water – both from wells and from the Salt Fork River - for coal operations.

Some of the wastewater from the coal extraction, crushing, and washing operations will apparently be deposited into the Salt Fork River basin. This has the potential for adding sediments and pollutants such as heavy metals and salts into waters now used for drinking water supplies, fish and wildlife habitat,and livestock watering.

This has raised concerns for ourselves and for neighbors, farmers, landowners, anglers, paddlers, scout activities at Camp Drake, and the ecological health of the river and adjoining riparian corridor. We are interested in bringing together the stakeholders of this region in an effort to have a full and transparent discussion. Hopefully, it would be possible to work together to voice shared concerns and obtain answers to open questions with a goal of identifying solutions that can ensure the vital life of the Salt Fork River and its watershed, as well as a sustainable future for our communities. For more information, see Stand Up to Coal and the links above