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Backyard Art

Ireland streamA 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

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Green Tip

Hi, I’m Howard and I’m here to provide you with green tips. Look for me throughout the site and check out my cool interactive games at the Kids Zone.