Cabrini student heads stream restoration project

By Ryan Kirby
October 18, 2007

Raleigh News & Observer/MCT

The historical Valley Forge camp where George Washington and General Lafayette camped during the brutal winter of 1777 is in danger of being washed away because of storm water run-off from the Valley Creek.

Kallyn Seidler, a junior environmental science major, has been a groundbreaker in compiling data on the creek and running tests to see if a new innovative technique in stream restoration will do its job. “The work we started this summer involved stream monitoring procedures to see what conditions the stream was in pre-restoration. We did this to see if next summer’s restoration actually improves the streams quality of life,” Seidler said.

According to Dr. David Dunbar, associate professor of biology, new housing developments in the area have not been designed to treat storm water properly. “The area around Crabby Creek which turns into Valley Creek could be only one major rain event away from washing away the headquarters at Valley Forge.” Along with the historical significance the issue is important because the creek is one of the few in the area that is a class of trout stream, meaning trout naturally reproduce there.

Oddly enough, this new technique of stream restoration doesn’t involve the chemical levels in the stream because those balances can fluctuate daily. “I spent most of the summer at the Stroud Water Research Center and collected, sorted and identified the macroinvertabrates (bugs) in Crabby Creek and other neighboring streams. The bugs can tell us the most about what is going on in the stream because they spend their entire life there,” Seidler said.

The Valley Creek Restoration Partnership recently received a $400,000 William Penn grant along with an Environmental Protection Agency grant to get the restoration and analysis started. “There is a lot of money out there for stream restoration, but there is barely any money for follow up studies to see if the restoration actually worked, which is why the work that Kallyn has done is extremely important,” Dunbar said.

Dr. Melissa Terlecki, associate professor of psychology, has had her students put together an environmental study for the residents to find out simple conservation questions such as if the residents recycle. The project has also been supervised by Cabrini’s chemical hygiene officer Cindy McGauley, who will continue to take on a leadership role over the next few years as Cabrini looks to expand its influence in the environmental practices of the surrounding communities.

“All of this work is to establish a protocol for storm water management in the area,” Dunbar said. “Politicians like to spend money on the stream restoration but normally fail to follow up because it is a five year process.”

“The community is paying for the stream restoration and after the restoration it will be their hard work and effort to keep the stream up to par,” Seidler said.

Cabrini will continue to help the community surrounding Crabby Creek to get the knowledge and equipment they need so that when the restoration is finished they can continue to monitor their stream and storm water issues. The hope is that the study in conjunction with Kallyn’s work supervised by Dr. Dunbar and Cindy McGauley will help the Crabby Creek area residents realize the effect that their developments have on the environment and the dangers of storm water drainage.

Ryan Kirby

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