Graduates of the Master Watershed Steward Trainee program in Lehigh/Northampton Counties
The 2018 Class of Lehigh/Northampton County Master Watershed Stewards completed their 40 hours of training last month. Their training included classroom sessions on water quality, geology, native plants, phenology and more, along with field trips to the Bethlehem Waste Water Treatment Plant, and introduction to environmental education at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center and tour of stream restoration and green infrastructure sites in the region.
The 18 trainees will now be focusing on three group projects:
Homeowners Association Outreach:
Many communities have homeowner’s associations that prescribe how residents carry out all types of outdoor activities. These are not always environmentally friendly, and, in fact, many practices, such as mandating manicured lawns, are environmental detriments. The trainees will gather existing resources and publication relating to environmentally friendly residential care, and will collate these. They will also create a presentation based upon these materials and lastly, create an inventory of the HOA’s in the Lehigh Valley and reach out to each of them, inviting them to one or more presentations. The content will focus on alternates to lawns, water conservation, and native plants.
This project addresses the overuse and misuse of home herbicides and pesticides, as this can be a major source of water pollution. Vast expanses of lawn in suburban areas can be time-consuming and expensive to maintain. There has been a growing interest in using wildflower meadows as an alternative to turf grass. While large-scale, multi-acre meadow establishment projects have huge impact, the conversion process is daunting to homeowners. To address this challenge, trainees will install a quarter acre demonstration native plant meadow at the Trexler Environmental Center using a kill-and-seed method to illustrate an attainable result for a homeowner with limited means and resources. This project will over-winter into 2019.
The proposed project involves the construction, placement, and monitoring of monofilament fishing line disposal canisters at popular fishing sites in the Lehigh Valley. The danger to fish, birds, and wildlife, and the environmental hazards from improperly discarded monofilament line is well known. Providing an accessible and effective disposal site will not only help decrease improperly discarded line, but also be visible, including signage and serving as an education/outreach opportunity. The trainees will construct and place 24 canisters at sites along streams and the Lehigh River with informational signage. The volunteers will monitor and maintain the containers for a three-year period to determine public acceptance and usage. The funding for these projects was secured by the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley, through the Lehigh Valley Greenways Partnership. The Lehigh and Northampton County Conservation District Watershed Specialists will be overseeing these projects.
Once the trainees reach 50 hours of volunteer service, they’ll become official Master Watershed Stewards. Penn State Extension, the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley, and the County Conservations districts look forward to working with these individuals as they work on these group projects and become more involved in environmental conservation efforts.
If you are interested in becoming a Master Watershed Steward in Lehigh and Northampton counties, contact Erin Frederick at firstname.lastname@example.org.