Cornell WRI/Estuary Program Staff Help Research and Education Come Together

From Chris Bowser, Hudson River Estuary Program, NYSDEC:

In partnership with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (IES), the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the Hudson River Estuary Program, Chris Bowser and Steve Stanne are part of a team of educators and researchers piloting the restoration of submerged aquatic vegetation at the Norrie Point Environmental Center. With guidance form Stuart Findlay of Cary IES the team constructed several plots, caged and uncaged, in which they planted about 40 small peat-pots of water celery (Vallisneria americana), an important underwater plant that has not strongly rebounded since their numbers dropped after Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Lee. The project also involved students from Marist College and regional high schools.

A peat-pot containing water celery.
A peat-pot containing water celery.
Students from Marist’s Environmental Science Pre-College program plant water celery at Norrie Point.
Students from Marist’s Environmental Science Pre-College program plant water celery at Norrie Point.

Marist college student Ricky Brase, under the mentorship of education coordinator Chris Bowser and tributary specialist Andrew Meyer, is looking at the effects of improperly positioned culverts on American eel distribution in the Hudson River watershed. Unnatural substrate, too shallow water, or perched outlets creating substantial drops in the stream are some of the reasons culverts can be barriers to fish migration, and these impacts on eel populations have not been studied nearly as much as dams. Ricky and student volunteers are using a backpack electrofishing unit to catch and release eels and other fish above and below potential problem culverts. Ricky is the recipient of a Tibor Polgar fellowship, coordinated by staff from the Hudson River Foundation and Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve.

L to R:  Ricky Brase, Megan Lung, Julia Czarnecki, Marissa Porter
L to R: Ricky Brase, Megan Lung, Julia Czarnecki, Marissa Porter
Giancarlo Coppola weighs a large eel before returning it to the stream.
Giancarlo Coppola weighs a large eel before returning it to the stream.

The Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve headquarters at the Norrie Point Environmental Center recently hosted the faith-based Earth-Faith-Peace project, which brought together 30 young professionals and graduate students of various faith traditions and nationalities. All the attendees were engaged in environmental stewardship, education, and ecological research with a special focus on climate change. Field activities included removing invasive water chestnuts and a demonstration of the Norrie Point’s surface elevation table (SET) a device used coast-wide to measure changes in marsh elevation.

L to R:  Maria Balcazar, Sadiya Khalique, Chris Tate.
L to R: Maria Balcazar, Sadiya Khalique, Chris Tate.
Maria Balcazar measures SET rods.
Maria Balcazar measures SET rods.
L to R:  Matt Manley, Sarah Fernald.
L to R: Matt Manley, Sarah Fernald.

All photos courtesy of Chris Bowser, NYSDEC

About pmm223@cornell.edu

I'm a physicist by training, and an engineer by vocation. I'm a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the NYS Water Resources Institute and the Cornell Soil and Water Lab, working on inexpensive instrumentation for community science.
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