Project WET relaunched in Arkansas

by: Angela Danovi, Arkansas Project Manager of Ozarks Water Watch & Sophia Stephenson, Executive Director, Arkansas Environmental Education Association

Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) was formally re-launched in Arkansas at the end of 2019. The Arkansas Environmental Education Association (AEEA) became the new host institution in September. In November, nine new facilitators became certified to provide WET training to teachers and educators.

Project WET is an international network of organizations and individuals dedicated to providing water education to people of all ages. Through partnerships with state agencies, municipal utilities, colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations, Project WET is available in all 50 states and over 70 countries. Project WET’s mission is to reach children, parents, teachers and community members of the world with water education that promotes awareness of water and empowers community action to solve complex water issues

Project WET had previously been active in Arkansas; however, the partnership between the national office and the previous state host institution ended a few years ago. This left a gap in training for bothworkshop facilitators and educators who wished to use the materials. The first step for the reintroduction of Project WET through AEEA was conducting a facilitator training. AEEA developed an application form and distributed it to selected educators around the state. From the applications, nine facilitators were chosen, including AEEA director Sophia Stephenson, who now serves as the Project WET State Coordinator.

Project WET facilitators are individuals who are certified to conduct project WET workshops for educators. Facilitators have previously completed a Project WET Educator workshop and generally have used Project WET activities within their own program for at least one year.

The first training for Arkansas Project WET facilitators was held in November at the Boone County Cooperative Extension Service facility. The training was supported by a grant from the Multi-Basin Regional Water Council, an organization that represents Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas; whose mission includes increasing capacity of its members to cooperate on water quality issues and fulfill their respective missions. The day and a half long training was conducted by Project WET co-coordinators from Missouri. The facilitator training included an overview of the project WET Guide 2.0, an introduction to Arkansas state science standards and training on how to use the guide to connect activities to state standards, training on specific project WET activities, and an opportunity for each facilitator in training to lead a specific activity.

The next phase of re-launching Project WET in Arkansas is conducting educator workshops, which are held for classroom teachers, non-formal educators, and staff. Educator workshops are not only beneficial for classroom teachers, but can also serve as a foundation for ecology programs at summer camps and scout groups, educational programs at parks, and would also be beneficial for home-schooled students. Participation in an educator training workshop is open to paid or volunteer educators and staff who use water education materials in their work.

Part of the agreement for individuals chosen to complete the facilitator workshop is they each must conduct one Project WET Educator training workshop in 2020. This ensures their skills are up-to-date and that new educators are receiving training to provide Arkansas students with accurate and scientifically supported water education. Of the nine trained in November, four are able to provide workshops anywhere in the state.The remaining five are focused on a more local level.

In 2020 AEEA expects to conduct another facilitator training. This training will expand the location of trained facilitators as well as strengthen the network of the current facilitators.

If anyone is interested in receiving Project WET Educator training or would like more information about the Project WET program in Arkansas contact Arkansas Project WET coordinator, Sophia Stephenson at or call 501.773.1107

Christmas Trees Become Fish Habitat in Beaver Lake

Sinking Christmas trees as fish habitats in a channel off the Arkansas River

As the holiday season draws to a close, you may be looking for a sustainable way to dispose of your live Christmas tree. One option available in Arkansas is to donate your live Christmas tree for fish habitat! The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began the program in 2006 and this year there are multiple drop-off locations across the state to leave your tree for an angler to use in their next brush pile.

Northwest Arkansas Live Christmas Tree Dropoff Locations:

Christmas Tree AGFC dropoff at Hwy 12 access on Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake Dropoff Points:

  • Highway 12 Access
  • AGFC Don Roufa Hwy 412 Access.

Other Northwest Arkansas AGFC Dropoff locations are:

  • Lake Elmdale boat launch in Springdale,
  • Bob Kidd Lake boat ramp access located about 2.0 miles west of Prairie Grove in Washington County,
  • Crystal Lake Boat Ramp Access located off Arkansas Highway 59, northeast of Decatur.

Live Trees are also being accepted at Hook Line and Sinker Outdoor Store located on Hwy 12 at 98 W Locust St (HWY 12), Rogers, AR 72756

Sign on hwy 12 at Hook Line and Sinker

Trees can be dropped off at any of the AGFC locations until the end of January

How does the Christmas Tree Fish Habitat Program work?

Anyone with a real Christmas tree may take it to a drop-off location and leave it near the indicated boat ramp. Anglers may then collect the trees and place them into designated waters to create habitat coverage for fish. The program is similar to the “leave a penny, take a penny” concept. Anyone can drop off their tree, and anyone is welcome to take them to sink their own brush piles. Anglers sinking brush should call ahead to make sure sinking brush is allowed in the body of water where they want to sink the trees. Some water-supply reservoirs and other lakes have regulations to prevent dumping of brush without permission.

In 2018, AGFC devoted a few minutes to their Arkansas Wildlife show to demonstrate how the christmas tree donation program works and how you can build your own fish habitat using Christmas trees:

Why Sink Christmas Trees?

In water bodies lacking structure and depth changes, such as Corps lakes like Beaver Lake or other smaller dammed lakes, baitfish will be heavily scattered. Without refuge, many fish remain inactive most of the day, suspending over deep water. Adding cover provides much needed nutrition for even the smallest of species, and with this the food chain will follow.

As woody plant tissue decomposes, Mother Nature jumpstarts a whole new series of vegetation at the lowest levels of life such as phytoplankton and various algaes. Zooplankton, also known as water fleas, populate and forage on the new vegetation, attracting small insects, mussels, snails, and crayfish who also eat on the phyto and zooplankton. The abundance of life then attracts small, non-predatory fish that eat on the small insects or zooplankton, and the larger, predator species we cherish. Members of the sunfish family, such as largemouth bass, bluegill, and crappies are attracted to submerged trees. Small fishes hide there for protection. Larger fishes may seek protection, or may chase the small fishes that are attracted by it.

Sinking Christmas Trees on the Little Maumelle River in Little Rock, Ark.

For those wishing to donate trees:

  • Only REAL trees may be donated.
  • Remove all ornaments, tinsel, lights and other man-made materials from the trees before dropping them off.
  • Drop off at one of the commission pre-approved locations or check with the owners of the lake or body of water before leaving trees behind.
  • Do not block the boat ramps when donating trees.

For those wishing to sink trees for fish:

  • Always check over trees to make sure that they meet the program requirements.
  • Always check to make sure the location allows habitats to be sunk.
  • Take several trees and tie them together to create a more abundant habitat.
  • Anglers must provide their own cinder blocks and rope. Polyester rope will last longer than cotton rope.
  • Consider adding trees to an existing habitat to rebuild it.
  • Sinking trees to a depth of 12-25 feet is ideal for crappie. Bass habitats can be a little shallower.
  • Mark the GPS location of your habitat so you can return to it later to fish.

Click here for more information about the 2019 Arkansas Game and Fish Christmas Tree Drop off Information

Arkansas Volunteers Honored for Service

Each fall, we take the time to honor volunteers who have served with us over the past year. This year, nearly 30 volunteers from Stream and Lake monitoring as well volunteers who have supported our educational programs came together to celebrate their accomplishments for the year.

In addition to dinner and celebrating each other, several outstanding volunteers were honored for their service contributions.

Outstanding Service Award:

Honoring Retiring Volunteers who have given 5 or more years of service

2019 Honoree: Gary Culp – Team Leader, West Fork of the White River at Baptist Ford Bridge & Brentwood Park

Gary Culp began volunteering with StreamSmart during its inaugural year in 2012. During his time as a volunteer and site leader, Gary has monitored the West Fork more than 30 times. He also recruited and trained over 10 people to work with his team during his volunteer tenure with Ozarks Water Watch, ultimately recruiting one person who is now serving as the new team leader, ensuring continuity of the work he began nearly 8 years ago. Gary is a lifelong resident of West Fork, Arkansas. He is a long-time member and former board member of the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists. Gary looks forward to relaxing in his life-long swimming and fishing holes on the West Fork!

2019 Honoree: Denis Dean – Team Leader, Spout Spring Branch

Denis Dean Sr. was an inaugural volunteer with StreamSmart, attending our first training we held in the summer of 2012! For more than 7 years Denis and his son, Denis Dean Jr., monitored Spout Spring Branch, a tributary of the West Fork that flows through Walker Park in Fayetteville. Although the monitoring was challenging at times due to eroding banks and unexpected findings in the park or the stream, Denis and his son persevered. Denis was almost always one of the first volunteers to complete monitoring and only missed one monitoring event during his volunteer tenure. Denis is a member of the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists and is a fossils aficionado. He looks forward to giving more support to the service, outreach, and environmental education programs of the master naturalists.

Volunteer of the Year:

Honoring an Overall Outstanding Volunteer

2019 Volunteer of the Year: Jane Mohr, 7th grade science teacher at Elmwood Middle School

Jane Mohr is one of the most highly motivated and interactive middle school science teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. In 2017, Jane approached me about collaborating on an Ecology field trip experience for her middle school science teachers. After our first field trip in 2018, we decided to expand the field experience for the students by including water testing stations, a secchi dip in, soil testing, and water permeability education. Jane was instrumental in helping Ozarks Water Watch secure a $500 grant which helped to purchase the additional supplies for the field trip. She also volunteered her time preparing and organizing equipment for the stations, ensuring a successful field trip. On May 22, 2019 all of our efforts were realized when 280 Elmwood students completed their ecology field trip at Lake Atalanta. In addition to partnering on the ecology field trip, Jane volunteered her time during spring break and over summer break organizing and preparing lake kits and StreamSmart kits. She also helped organize data files and documents for the program. 2019 was an extremely successful year both for our monitoring programs and our water quality education programs because of Jane’s generosity and volunteer service.

Beaver Lake Monitoring Team of the Year

Dale and Deborah Bennett : Beaver Lake Site #2

Dale and Deb have been monitoring Beaver Lake for two consecutive years near the Nursery Pond. They are one of the most diligent teams on Beaver. They were the first team to contact me about picking up their lake kit and supplies, the first team to call about dropping off mid-season samples, and the first to call about completing end of season responsibilities in September. They have always completed their monitoring. This year they gave 37 hours of volunteer service towards monitoring on Beaver Lake.

StreamSmart Team of the Year:

Ward Slough Team: Erin Grantz, Brina Smith, & Abbie Lasater

Erin Grantz has been a StreamSmart volunteer since 2016. In 2018, she began monitoring with the newly established Ward Slough Team, comprised of University of Arkansas staff and graduate students. Erin has served as the team leader for two years, taking responsibility for organizing monitoring, leading the field work, and ensuring the samples and field data forms are submitted.

Brina Smith has been a StreamSmart volunteer since 2018 when she joined the Ward Slough team. Brina has been a wonderful supporter for StreamSmart by promoting monitoring opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students and helping to keep all of our samples organized through her position in the AWRC lab.

Abbie Lasater has been a member of the Ward Slough team since 2018. She is a PhD student in Biological and Agricultural Engineering. Her current research involves working with Dr. Brad Austin to develop a network of discharge monitoring stations in Arkansas using a SonTek acoustic Doppler instrument, which can measure stream discharge using the doppler effect.

StreamSmart Team Captain of the Year

Fred Hopkins: War Eagle at Withrow Springs

Fred Hopkins began volunteering with StreamSmart in 2018 and immediately took the position of Team Captain for the team at War Eagle at the Withrow Springs State Park. He is one of the most diligent team captains in the StreamSmart volunteer network. He leads all of the monitoring events for his site, ensuring monitoring is completed in full and on time. He is a great supporter of StreamSmart and of his team by recruiting and training new volunteers and keeping volunteers engaged at his site. Fred can always be counted on to provide great leadership for his team and he is deserving of being honored as the 2019 StreamSmart team captain of the year.

Autumn leaves in the city can contribute to poor water quality

Photo of Fayetteville, AR by Joe Wittkop (2014)

As we flip the calendar from September to October, we start to think about the beautiful autumn colors of the Ozarks. However, autumn leaves can actually contribute nutrients to our local waterways. This blog by Stephen A. Hubbs, professional engineer from Kentucky with the water quality and health council explains the connection between increased nutrients in our water and the autumn leaves which fall from our trees. Access the complete article here.

Today, a major concern is that leaf litter (i.e., organic debris) spikes stormwater systems and watersheds with nutrients during and after rainfall, especially when it gathers along street curbs. Excess phosphorus and nitrogen often lead to major water quality problems for municipalities, a process called eutrophication,1 and harmful algal blooms (HABs). The sources of nitrogen and phosphorus are many and varied, but leaves that fall on streets and into catch-basins during autumn can add to the nutrient problem in urban streams and lakes—particularly in subsequent summer months that also support conditions for HABs.

The connection between fallen leaves and excess nutrient loading may appear intuitive, but the impact on urban water quality, including release of organic compounds, is not fully understood. A U.S. Geological Survey researcher named William Selbig reported on research conducted during the months of April through November, 2013 to 2015, in Madison, Wisconsin.3 He noted that “While the sources of nutrients to urban stormwater are many, the primary contributor is often organic detritus, especially in areas with dense overhead tree canopy … making source control through leaf removal one of the few treatment options available to environmental managers when reducing the amount of dissolved nutrients in stormwater runoff.”

So What Can I Do?

Think regionally (area streams and lakes) and act locally (your front yard). There are several things you can do this fall to reduce the effect of leaves on urban water quality:

  • Consider mulching in-place with your lawn mower, especially if your yard is relatively flat, and those nutrients will soak into your lawn.4 And it’s probably easier than raking!
  • Gather leaves and other “yard waste” into a compost pile for use next spring to fertilize flower beds and vegetable gardens.
  • If you know when leaves will be collected for your community, wait to rake them close to the street until just before collection time.
  • If you have curbside leaf collection, rake leaves near the edge of the street (keep about three feet of lawn between the curb and the pile) but not into the street. The soil under the leaves will adsorb some of the nutrients when it rains.
  • Keep leaves off driveways, sidewalks and other impermeable surfaces.
  • Keep the streets and catch-basins free of leaves … they usually lead straight to a stream!

Let’s Talk Trash…in our water!

It is often said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I don’t know that we necessarily expect different results by conducting stream and watershed cleanups over and over because we expect to find trash and we become happy or even concerned if we go back to a known location over time and see less trash. It leaves us wondering, “where did the trash go, now?” So maybe this endless cycle of cleanups means we are more insane for not expecting different results!!

But, one thing is becoming more clear, our trash is following our water cycle! There have even been recent reports of microplastics being identified in rain water, indicating plastics are possibly falling out of the atmosphere during rainfall.

So, despite our best efforts to clean up at least some of our streams and watersheds, we continue to find more trash, meaning the cleanups are just part of the cycle and not directly addressing the trash problem. Meanwhile, the trash and plastic problems in the oceans persist and grow.

Sydney Harris, ORISE at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, United States, Toward a standard trash assessment method

Trash in waterbodies is not assessed and regulated in most states. However, over 200 individual water body reaches in 7 states including Alaska, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, and New York have been listed as impaired for trash, debris or floatables since 1996. But, most states or localities have little accounting for how much trash is being accumulated in streams or the efforts underway and costs to clean up trash out of streams.

Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol

A new effort is underway to standardize how we conduct cleanups and account for the trash that is found through the Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol. The Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol was created by the Trash Free Waters Program (TFW) of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). A pilot project, featured in the May 2019 EPA Newsletter The Flow…of Trash Free Waters, is currently underway on Three Mile Creek in downtown Mobile, Alabama using the Litter Gitter system and the Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol to collect data about the trash found in the creek and provide feedback on the protocol.

DRAFT Escaped Trash Assessment Protocol (ETAP)

The protocol follows a 4-step process:

Step 1: Site Selection – In this step you will select a site and identify specific boundaries for your cleanup and study.

Step 2: Site characterization and cleanup – In this step you will identify your landuses, existing trash condition, existing preventative measures for trash management, and distance to waterbody. You will conduct a cleanup and catalogue the trash using the datacard.

Step 3: Data Entry and Analysis – In this step you will enter and analyze your data to better understand and describe the trash, conditions, and metrics from your cleanup.

Step 4: Adaptive Management – Propose adaptive management strategies to address localized trash problems.

Benefits of a standardized method

The benefits of having and following a standard protocol are numerous to watershed management.

  • The methods can be implemented across all environments.
  • Results can be compared across states and watersheds.
  • Watershed organizations can use the data to prioritize areas for adaptive management or to implement BMPs rather than endlessly expending resources on conducting cleanups.
  • Data can be visualized and explained to the public and other stakeholders.
  • Long-term data can be collected and analyzed in a methodical way to determine trends of a specific area over time.
  • Upstream and Downstream data can be used to identify inputs of trash or to analyze effectiveness of implemented BMPs.
Sydney Harris, ORISE at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, United States, Toward a standard trash assessment method

To learn more about efforts to reduce trash, visit Trash-Free Waters at

Protecting Monarchs Protects Water Quality

We often think and talk about environmental work in distinct sections, such as protecting water quality, improving habitat for certain species, removing invasives, or planting natives. Those who work or volunteer in the environmental sector understand all components of environmental work intersect and working in one area can affect another part of the environment. However, the greater public doesn’t always consider those connections.

The Monarch Joint Venture Project explored the important connections and mutual benefits gained between native plants, monarch habitat, and water quality protection in a recent article:

You may be asking yourself, how can monarch conservation help improve water quality and reduce the likelihood of flooding events? The answer is that any monarch planting, large or small, helps reconnect and restore some of the natural functions that our landscape historically provided. Because of this, the habitat you plant to help monarchs can make a positive impact on the water quality in your watershed. Whether you are a gardener, land manager, farmer, city planner, or another type of land or water steward, your pollinator habitat project can make a difference.

Unlike turf grass, native plants that make up monarch and pollinator habitat like milkweed, wildflowers, and bunch grasses, have deep root systems that can reach several feet into the ground. These roots not only provide soil stability and prevent erosion, they also form channels in the soil that help rainfall soak in and replenish our groundwater supply. Moreover, some plants act as sponges for heavy metals and other pollutants, and can prevent them from getting into our streams, rivers, and lakes by soaking them up into their tissues with the water and removing them from the soil. Native plant buffers along roadsides, streams, and agricultural fields, residential or corporate rain-gardens, and any other type of landscaping can be planted with native milkweed, wildflowers, and grasses. These plants provide food and shelter for many wildlife species, including monarchs, while also helping to slow the flow of runoff and prevent contaminants from reaching our waterways.

Planting habitat for monarchs actively reduces the amount of runoff and pollution in our waterways by disrupting the flow of runoff and providing additional places for water to go in the ground. It also requires fewer inputs than other ecosystems, like crops, lawns, or ornamental landscaping. Native flowers and grasses existed long before European settlement alongside the other flora and fauna, and are well adapted to regional soil and moisture conditions.

Diagram showing how native grasses and plants (including monarch habitat) develop deep root systems compared to conventional turf grass (seen at the far left of the diagram)

Be Careful choosing your milkweed!

The drive to promote monarchs and their habitat has largely been in response to the nearly 90% decline in the monarch populations since the mid-1990s. One main message was to plant any and all milkweed. Unfortunately, there have been some unintended and unexpected consequences from the implementing that message. As the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission explained:

The species of milkweed most commonly available to plant in the United States is tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), which is not native to North America. It turns out that tropical milkweed doesn’t die back in the winter like native milkweed does, creating new winter breeding sites, keeping monarchs from migrating farther south. Although that might not sound like such a bad thing, it poses a great threat to monarchs – it hosts a parasite called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE). Monarch caterpillars ingest the parasite while feeding on milkweed and then emerge from their chrysalises covered in OE spores. Infected monarchs are weakened by OE and don’t live as long, and an OE-infected monarch that tries to migrate will probably die before it reaches the overwintering sites in Mexico.

A study reported by the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. concluded that monarchs who stayed in the southern United States for the winter were five to nine times more likely to be infected with OE than migrating butterflies.

Plant Native Milkweed!

Plant only native varieties of milkweed. In Arkansas, that includes curly milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis), tall green milkweed (Asclepias hirtella), purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens), butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), white milkweed (Asclepias variegata), horsetail milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), and spider milkweed (Asclepias viridis).

If you have already planted non-native milkweed, experts advise that you cut the tropical milkweed back every few weeks during the winter. And, of course, plant more native milkweed. You can learn more about planting native plants on the native gardening webpage of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.

Largest Class of New Volunteers Trained for StreamSmart

by: Angela Danovi, Ozarks Water Watch StreamSmart Coordinator

One Saturday of classroom and field training concluded with 27 new volunteers, the largest class on record, ready to monitor streams in the Beaver Lake Watershed. The training class was held for new volunteers interested in forming teams with the Ozarks Water Watch StreamSmart Volunteer Monitoring Program.

StreamSmart is a volunteer water quality monitoring program run by to assess baseline water quality of the streams and rivers that flow into Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas. Through the program, local volunteers collect water samples and complete field assessments through a standardized water quality monitoring process.

During the morning training, participants completed classroom training where they received their training manuals, met professional staff from the Arkansas Water Resources Center, and learned about the monitoring procedures. During lunch, they had an opportunity to sign up for one or more of the 7 sites available for new volunteers to monitor.

In the afternoon, everyone joined together at Clear Creek between Fayetteville and Springdale to practice the protocol and enjoy the cool water.

Over the next few weeks the volunteers will get an opportunity to visit their sites, get to know their teammates, and make a plan for their upcoming first monitoring event in August, which will begin our 8th year of volunteer stream monitoring in the Beaver Lake Watershed!

We are looking forward to working with this new group of volunteers and continuing to collect high quality data about our water quality in the Beaver Lake Watershed.

StreamSmart Volunteer Training Set for June 29

We need volunteers!

Do you remember kicking around in streams, picking up rocks, or catching “crawdads” as a kid? Do you enjoy being outside in Ozark streams or are you interested in learning more about Ozark streams? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you would be a great candidate for attending our annual StreamSmart volunteer training coming up on June 29!

Register for StreamSmart volunteer training here.

StreamSmart is our volunteer monitoring program where volunteers conduct water quality monitoring in the Beaver Lake Watershed. Each year we hold a training workshop for people interested in volunteering in the StreamSmart program. This year’s training, scheduled for June 29, will be held at the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center in Fayetteville!

StreamSmart training is a great opportunity for those who are interested in volunteer water quality monitoring in the Beaver Lake Watershed to get trained, meet other volunteers, and learn more about volunteer monitoring opportunities! Attending training does not require previous water quality monitoring experience or future volunteer commitment. But, we hope our training will inspire you to join a volunteer monitoring team!

Training is a day-long experience. Check in will begin at 8:30am with training starting at 9:00am. The morning will be in the classroom learning basics about watersheds and learning the stream monitoring protocols for collecting water samples, conducting habitat assessments, and conducting macroinvertebrate surveys. We will provide a free lunch to all attendees. In the afternoon we will drive to a nearby stream and put our training protocol into practice!

Trainees will finish the day ready to lead or serve on our volunteer monitoring StreamSmart teams!

Register for StreamSmart volunteer training here.

New teams are needed at the following four sites:

  • Site 104 – White River at St. Paul
  • Site 205 – Hock Creek (located approximately 5 miles east of Wesley or 10 miles southwest of Huntsville)
  • Site 206 – Spout Spring Branch (located in Walker Park in Fayetteville)
  • Site 210 – Town Branch (located near the White River Ball Fields in Fayetteville)

Additional team members are needed for an existing team monitoring on the West Fork at:

  • Site 101 – Baptist Ford Bridge (located near Greenland)
  • Site 102 – Brentwood Park

For questions or more information contact the StreamSmart coordinator, Angela Danovi, at 479-295-7717 or email

Rogers Arkansas Students Complete Water Quality & Ecology Field Trip

by: Angela Danovi, Regional Projects Manager, Ozarks Water Watch

Rogers’ Elmwood Raiders 7th-graders took their ecology lessons to the field on Wednesday, May 22. Over 280 students visited Lake Atalanta Park, located in the Beaver Lake Watershed. Throughout the day students were testing water clarity, conducting soil and water chemistry testing, measuring stream flow and many other exciting hands-on learning experiences! This was the second year for the Elmwood Ecology field trip, expanding to twelve stations this year and giving students an opportunity to learn from professionals and trained volunteers from the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists what it is like to conduct environmental field science in their own back yard.

Elmwood Students conduct a macroinvertebrate survey at Lake Atalanta Park. (Photo Credit: Jason Ivester, Communications Multimedia Specialist, Rogers Public Schools)

The Elmwood Ecology Field Trip was concieved by Angela Danovi, Regional Projects Manager for Ozarks Water Watch and Elmwood Middle School Science Teacher, Jane Mohr. “This field trip is exciting for our students because they can gain hands-on experience outside of the classroom, reinforcing the work we are teaching them in class,” said Mohr. The expansion of the field trip was in-part supported by a small grant to Angela Danovi as non-formal environmental educator from the Arkansas Environmental Education Association. The grant supported the purchase of student soil and water testing kits, allowing the students to practice field science by conducting student-directed scientific tests and collecting environmental data in their local park. Next year’s 7th grade students will use the data to practice graphing and other math skills and to learn about normal variability found in routine environmental science.

Elmwood students prepare to take a secchi reading on Lake Atalanta. (Photo Credit: Jason Ivester, Communications Multimedia Specialist, Rogers Public Schools)

This year’s field trip was particularly timely for students because they had the opportunity to measure the stream discharge in Prairie Creek, the stream that flows to Lake Atalanta, just days before the flooding of the Arkansas River. Students practiced using the instruments during their science class, prior to the field trip. During the field trip they were able to implement the procedure in the field and calculate discharge in cubic feet per second and then convert that number to gallons per second. During the past few days, the teachers have been sharing stream discharge updates and videos taken by the US Army Corps of Engineers on the Arkansas River, demonstrating for the students how the work they did on their field trip is used by professionals to manage our water resources.

Elmwood students collecting measurements on Prairie Creek at Lake Atalanta Park to calculate stream discharge. (Photo Credit: Jason Ivester, Communications Multimedia Specialist, Rogers Public Schools)

In addition to water quality science activities, students enjoyed programs by Alan Bland on Mammals of the Ozarks, Chris Pistole of Hobbs State Park on Food Webs, Trish Ouei of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension on the ecology and history of Lake Atalanta Park, and Dot Neely of Beaver Water District on permeability of surfaces in a watershed. Additional professional parterners included Carrie Byron of Beaver Watershed Alliance who led a stream chemistry station and Danielle Dozer of Ozark Natural Science Center who led a macroinvertebrate survey. The 2019 Elmwood field trip was a success and hopefully gave the students a positive field science experience and a sense of connectedness to our water in Beaver Lake Watershed and the Ozarks.

You’re Invited! Join our family events in Beaver Lake Watershed this spring

By: Angela Danovi, Ozarks Water Watch – Arkansas Regional Projects Coordinator

Spring is a great time to be outside with the family and to celebrate Beaver Lake Watershed. Whether you want to attend one of our two upcoming appreciation days or help to clean up part of a stream in the watershed, getting out in the watershed during one of our events is a great way to learn about the watershed and support the efforts to promote water quality among everyone who lives, works, and plays in the Beaver Lake Watershed. This spring we are excited to bring you three great events in the Beaver Lake Watershed!

Lake Atalanta Appreciation Day

Saturday, April 20

Check in at 8:30 AM – Clark Pavilion at Lake Atalanta

Located at 500 E Walnut St, Rogers, AR 72756

9:00AM – 11:00AM Cleanup Lake Atalanta Park

Join us for our official Earth Day event at the second annual Lake Atalanta Appreciation Day in Rogers! If you have not been out to Lake Atalanta lately, you need to come join us. Construction from the flood damage is completed! There is more parking available, plenty of trails to walk or bike, and lots of open space for young children to play and fly kites. We will spend the morning walking the trails, open space, and shoreline of Lake Atalanta picking up trash and cleaning up our local park. Snacks and prizes will be available!

RSVP and recieve updates on our 2nd Annual Lake Atalanta Appreciation Day Facebook event page!

West Fork Cleanup

Saturday, May 18, 2019

8:00-9:30AM Check In:

9:00AM – 11:30AM Cleanup the West Fork Watershed

11:30AM Lunch at Riverside Park in West Fork


Two Check In Sites Available:

  1. Walker Park in Fayetteville located near the youth baseball fields at South College and 15th street – directions available here
  2. Riverside Park in West Fork located off of main street in West Fork – directions available here

The West Fork Cleanup is one of the largest cleanups of the year. It is held annually, covers many sites in the West Fork watershed, and results in thousands of pounds of trash being removed out of the second largest subwatershed in the Beaver Lake Watershed. The West Fork Cleanup is a fun family event! There are opportunities for everyone to help! We always enjoy a picnic lunch together alongside the creek at the West Fork of the White River. Registration is NOT required. You can come the day of the event and check in at Walker Park in Fayetteville or Riverside Park in West Fork. We look forward to seeing you!

War Eagle Appreciation Day

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Recreational Float*

Environmental and Craft Fair

12:00 Noon – Free Lunch

Located at Keith Ham Pavilion at Withrow Springs State Park

*Contact Beaver Watershed Alliance to reserve a boat for the float or to get event information at and 479-750-8007

War Eagle Appreciation Day is a day of fun activities and appreciation of the War Eagle Creek. The day will begin with a recreational float led by experienced paddlers on War Eagle Creek. This is a fun opportunity for those who are less experienced on the river to get out in a safe environment and experience a relaxing trip down the War Eagle. At the Keith Ham Pavilion enviornmental and cultural exhibits will be set up so families can learn about water quality, Withrow Springs Park, and some of the important historical and cultural contributions of the area. Around noon, lunch will be provided with music provided by talented local muscians. Bring your lawn chair, swim suit if you want to take a dip in the creek, and water bottle and come enjoy War Eagle Appreciation Day with us. More details and information will be provided on our facebook page as we get closer to the event!

Location of Ozarks Water Watch Spring Events in Arkansas