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AUSABLE WATER WISE: River association sees opportunities

Monitoring the Ausable River headwaters helps scientists understand the importance of protecting and the potential for restoring the watershed. (Provided photo — AsRA/Carrianne Pershyn)

After surmounting the obstacles of the last year, we’ve entered the spring and summer full of hope. We see opportunities ahead to restore our streams, lakes and wetlands and to protect their native wildlife and plants.

Opportunities to ensure our fresh water remains clean, clear and free of pollutants. Opportunities to work with communities so they can thrive alongside waterways. And opportunities for all of us to enjoy our watersheds, learn from them, and learn together how to ensure our streams and lakes flourish.

In the end, it’s about water. Fresh water. Many people refer to it as a resource — we use it, protect it, and rely on it to be there for us. But it is more than a resource — it is the essential stuff of all life. It is precious. Surface and ground freshwater account for less than 1% of all the water on Earth. That small amount sustains all plant and animal life. The good news is that we have the capacity to understand the requirements for healthy freshwater, to manage and protect it wisely. That starts with science.

At the Ausable River Association, we’re in the middle of another busy summer monitoring, understanding, restoring, protecting, and sharing our incredible freshwater streams and lakes. Two large stream channel restoration projects on the East Branch AuSable River will restore the self-sustaining form and function of each section of the river. These projects create flood resilience for communities, they also reduce erosion and suspended sediments, increase water quality, restore streambanks that quickly develop native grasses, then shrubs and trees, cooling water and creating habitat.

It’s a restoration of nature’s water infrastructure. Intensive biological surveys of our native brook trout and Atlantic salmon in the AuSable and Boquet watersheds are utilizing AsRA’s fine-tuned eDNA methods to identify the places these charismatic fish need to survive, and the places we need to protect. Ongoing work to monitor Mirror Lake and the water quality of AuSable lakes and streams continues bi-weekly through the summer. And we’re ramping up for another winter season of work to reduce the use of road salt throughout Lake Placid.

Next week, our Teen Aquatic Stewardship Workshop begins its sixth year. And there’s still time to join one of our free guided river tours this summer.

The support of the community, residents and visitors alike, fuels the solution-based science and stewardship of the Ausable River Association. You help us tackle the challenges, identify the opportunities, pursue them, and with our many partners achieve results that protect fresh water, healthy streams and lakes, and our communities — human and wild. But the work to ensure the opportunities become reality is ongoing, and financial support is critical.

Thanks to four dedicated donors, we’ve issued a 1:1 summer matching challenge. To unlock their $40,000 pledge, we’re turning to the community once again. Every dollar you donate is doubled. Every matched gift moves us closer to restoring the full potential of our streams, lakes, and wetlands and the communities that love them.

Clean, cool freshwater sustains all plant, animal, and human life. The Ausable River Association protects streams and lakes from road salt pollution, erosion and sedimentation, habitat damage, invasive species, and more. Through active partnerships, we combine smart, field-based science with engaged stewardship to produce practical solutions for streams, lakes, and watersheds. It’s efficient and effective.

If you haven’t seen our 2020 Annual Report on our successes, email us at contactus@ausableriver.org for a free copy or visit ausableriver.org.

(Kelley Tucker is the executive director of the Ausable River Association.)