Missouri Stream Team program with 4,000 teams monitoring 100,000 miles of streams. Much of their labor involves picking up trash from stream beds and banks.
More subtle damage occurs from excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the streams. This encourages excessive plant and algae growth that in turn depletes dissolved oxygen levels in streams. Depleted dissolved oxygen levels can lead to fish die-offs and problems for other stream organisms.
The pollution comes from excessive fertilization of lawns and pastures, byproducts of animal treatment operations with inadequate waste-removal facilities, and poorly functioning septic systems. Stream team monitoring can detect patterns that helps government and environmental agencies develop management plans for watershed areas.
A more dramatic reason for monitoring our streams is in the News-Leader story on beach closings due to high levels of E. coli. These occurred at Pomme de Terre State Park, Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Mark Twain State Park, and Crowder State Park. While stream teams do not do bacteriologic monitoring, their data on pollution can help pinpoint pollution sources.
Stream Teams also get their hands dirty while cleaning up trash along the streams. On our Master Naturalist Upper Swan Creek team's last trip they either completed another cleanup or they were trying to get a hand-held hillbilly satellite dish set up.
From their pictures, the team apparently included a Prairie Ring-necked Snake. They are easily recognizable by their small size, uniform dark color on the back, bright yellow-orange belly and distinct yellow ring around the neck. They take shelter under rocks where they find worms, slugs, soft bodied insects and small salamanders. Since Ringnecks live on rocky, wooded hillsides, they aren't much help in keeping our streams clean. That requires people like our stream team, so hats off to them. You can help by joining Stream Team activities.
More information on the Ring-neck is on the Non-venomous Snakes page of the MDC website.