On August 20 and 21, teams of Mad River Watch volunteers visited their field sites to collect data and make environmental observations for the last time this summer. This article is part of an ongoing series that shares highlights from this field work as well as lessons learned from this year and the past 39 years of Friends of the Mad River’s Mad River Watch program. What follows are excerpts from volunteer’s field journals on their last field days of the season. Here, in their own words, are the reports from three volunteers


Warren Covered Bridge – August 20

Volunteer Julie Westervelt reports: Warming up after several cool, rainy days. Temperature 65F. Water temp 57.1F. Conductivity 39 µS/cm (lowest reading so far!) pH is 6.5. (Editor’s note: Electrical conductivity is a measure of the saltiness of the water and is measured on a scale from 0 to 50,000 uS/cm. Electrical conductivity is measured in microsiemens per centimeter (uS/cm). Freshwater is usually between 0 and 1,500 uS/cm and typical sea water has a conductivity value of about 50,000 uS/cm.) Water level continues to be high, maybe slightly higher than at the last visit. Flow level is slightly more than base.

The site photos were taken closer to the steep part of the near bank due to higher water level but still straight out from the path down the bank. Water is flowing through the eddy area. A bit of silt deposition on the near bank. More rocks toward middle of river have created more rapids. Woody debris is collecting on the downed birch trees on the near bank which have shifted a bit downstream. Only one bird, a chipping sparrow. Could only hear crickets at top of the bank. River noise is loud.

Shepard Brook – August 20, Hannah Yerks

Volunteer Hannah Yerks reports:

The water is high at this site. It's easy to gauge the level because there is a rock in the middle of the brook, a diminutive sentinel, that I can always look at for reference. The water is rushing. The brook is wide and rocky here and standing in the middle of it, my feet numbing from the cold water, the rolled-up cuff of my pants beginning to wick water, the sound of the brook is all I can hear. From the top of Burnt Rock these humble molecules coalesce into a flowing entity so much greater. It's magic. So much mysterious beauty to be thankful for.

Chase Brook – August 21, Peter White

Volunteer Peter White reports: I tried to sample for “benthic macroinvertebrates” but had no success. I chose a riffle close to the near bank that was accessible and safe to get to. However, I netted only debris, leaves, and muck. I photographed the net and took it back to the car for closer inspection. Still nothing of interest! No bugs to identify, bummer! The water is still high near the sampling site, and fast too. If the water flow slows, I could sample riffles further out in the brook or travel to different sites on the Chase Brook.


FMR director’s report

Friends of the Mad River director Ira Shadis reports: Air temperatures across the watershed ranged from a low of 61F on Sunday at Shepard Brook to a high of 76.7 on Monday at Meadow Road. Water temperatures followed a similar pattern, with a low 57.1F at Shepard Brook on Sunday and a high at the Ward Access area of 78F on Monday. The volunteer at Ward Access noted the site, “seemed very warm. I recalibrated the thermometer and got the same result.” Average water temperature across all sites was 62F. Three sites recorded a low flow with the rest moderate or high. Conductivity ranged from a low of 36 µS/cm at Shepard Brook to a high of 122 µS/cm at High Bridge Brook. pH across all sites average 6.68.