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 August 2014