Blue Thumb – OCC, conservation districts, tribes, OSU Ext. offices, Cities, National Wildlife refuges, state parks
A great deal of the Blue Thumb Program is about helping people understand their role in resource protection. And because we are a water quality program, most of what we are about concerns actions that protect streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and groundwater.
Fishable - Blue Thumb Program works to help people understand the things that stop water from being fishable and swimmable. And our focus is on section 319 of the clean water act – nonpoint source pollution.
Volunteers are the heart of what we do - Stream protection
When rain falls, it runs downhill and it collects in the low spots as rivulets, streams, rivers, lakes, etc. All the land that drains to one point is the watershed.
Each of those watersheds can be subdivided. Some of the water that flows east of the Continental Divide ends up in the Gulf of Mexico; some in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and some flows directly to the Atlantic Ocean. We will be working in much smaller watersheds.
A small watershed in its natural state will allow some water to soak into the ground and some will flow into streams.
Once people begin to work the land, we change the surface by putting in impervious surfaces that increase the amount of water running off the land and decreasing the amount of water soaking into the soil. The water that runs off often carries pollutants with it.
The kind of pollution that most people think of is called point source pollution. It could be a pipe coming from a factory or a ruptured oil pipeline. These types of pollution are regulated by laws.
Today we are going to talk about nonpoint source pollution – the things that run off the land. We are funded by the Clean Water Act, section 319
The polluted water could be running down a storm drain, through a grassy swale…
…in the bar ditch.
Eventually flows into a creek that is
Here are some of the things we are talking about.
Nonpoint source pollution is that pollution that comes from lots of different sources, frequently in very small amounts, but the accumulation can have an impact on our water resources. This is my neighbor spreading pesticide on her lawn because she and her family have fleas. She did not know much about the chemicals she was spreading, and she did not know the rate at which she was applying this poison to her lawn. She also sprinkled it on her driveway. This is an example of nonpoint source pollution. You can imagine that lots of people applying chemicals like this can result in contaminated runoff.
Yes, family pets can contribute to our problems. What about our own septic systems? When they are working properly they are fine.
Cars must be well-maintained or they leak oil, gasoline, antifreeze on streets, parking lots and driveways. Using public transportation is a good idea, so is riding a bicycle. Additionally, simply planning your errands and auto routes so that you accomplish your auto activities efficiently helps.
When vegetation is removed, soil is subject to erosion. Sediment – eroded soil or gravel, is Oklahoma’s biggest problem for streams and lakes. It is a “bulk” pollutant in that it simply fills the waterway, it covers valuable habitat, sediment particles form a nucleus to which other pollutants adhere, and sediment darkens water, making it more prone to warming. Sediment particles in the water column can abrade sensitive gills and make it difficult for sight-feeding species to catch their prey.
Cattle or pigs - One really good way to protect streams and rivers is to…..
Animal waste is loaded with nutrients and bacteria. When animals are confined in small spaces, their waste can be a problem. It doesn’t matter whether is is poultry,
Leave the riparian area around the stream, leave a buffer if you are a landowner. Encourage development that does NOT encroach on streams, plan your OWN developments so that streams are protected.
What can be done to reduce the risk of pollution from fertilizers and pesticides?
We need to be SAFE if we choose to use chemicals, we should always read the label
What can be done to reduce yard waste?
To help reduce nonpoint source pollutants and conserve water, we can use less toxic chemicals, and we can use native plants. Pest resistant, good for wildlife, need no watering or fertilizer, collect water with rain barrels, make sure our cars are well maintained, recycle at home, use resources conservatively.
Clean Water Act states…fishable and swimmable
Blue Thumb is primarily a study of streams – an effort to know about streams and an effort to effectively teach about streams.
How do we know if a stream is healthy or not? The Blue Thumb program is based on this concept. We ask you to monitor chemically once a month. Staff will come help you with the biological and physical assessments.
What makes a good stream habitat? Riffles, runs, and pools.
Volunteers are active with us in chemical monitoring…
I will cover these three areas with just a little more detail. Chemical monitoring is part of why we offer two day trainings. The site experience and learning the test kits is actually more than half of the training.
During the warm months, we provide the materials needed for the monitoring of E. coli.
Twice a year bug collections. 85% are from riffles, with kick net.
Fish collections are only about once every three to five years. ¼ mile of stream, seine. 150 different fish spp, depends on where you are in the state and how good is the condition of your stream for how many fish might live in creeks you are interested in.
Homes, and hiding places can be around large rocks or in the holes of hardpan clay.
With every fish collection, we do a complete habitat assessment. Go down the stream recording important measurements about depth, structure, substrate, erosion, riparian area.
But we are assuming you have done a good job with data collection, and now it is time to let people know!
We sit down with you, and with a ton on information. So if you are not monitoring regularly, or are unable to help with your macroinvertebrate collections, or you did not have time to work with us to make your fish collection, there are huge holes in your data, and it is really not possible to truly know about your creek. We spend the most time with the people who monitor consistently, who make their stream a priority.
the zone of natural vegetation
along the banks of a stream
Provide a place for
Serve as travel
corridors for wildlife