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StreamSweepers and FOMR

FOMR has partnered with The Center for Natural Capital’s StreamSweepers program starting in late 2018 to assess the physical conditions of portions of the Middle River and map the locations of trash found in the river.


One purpose of the work is to determine the conditions of the river for potential use in future restoration efforts by the Center for Natural Capital. The StreamSweepers program has generously loaned two Garmin Montana GPS units to FOMR for use in the work. These units allow the user to record data on a keypad and take GPS located pictures to document the trash found. In 2019 FOMR volunteers paddled the river from Mile Marker 16 to its confluence with the North River and recorded ratings for seven parameters at numerous intervals along the river that describe the river’s characteristics. They included the canopy (tree cover over the river), buffer, bank erosion, riverbed materials, bank cover, bank geometry, and bank height.

A second and more immediate purpose of the work is to map the locations of trash found in the river and on its banks--items such as tires, old fence, oil drums, etc. that can be removed by FOMR volunteers during our annual river clean up. Larger items such as old cars, culverts, and large piles of debris from past floods are located and mapped with the intent that adjoining property owners can be contacted and permission obtained from them to access and remove the items from the river banks on their properties. StreamSweepers has done this on the Clinch River and other rivers in Virginia although they have not yet extended the large item removal program to the Middle River.

Our mapping efforts received a big boost in 2020 when Matthew Riddell volunteered to take on the task of converting the trash and river characteristics data into user- friendly maps as a Capstone Project for one of his classes at the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School. Augusta County generously allowed FOMR to link the county GIS maps to our map set so it is possible determine who the property owner is on the land adjoining the river at the location where big trash items were found.

We received another boost to our mapping program when Balzer and Associates in Verona, Virginia agreed in 2020 to help us continue the program by working with us to update and maintain the maps. The future looks bright for this exciting program. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, additional miles of the river were mapped in 2020 and the data was used in removing debris during the cleanup.  We plan to add river mile markers and other types of data to the maps in the future.

~ submitted by Wayne Nolde

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Above is a sample of the mapping data collected along the river by GPS which can be explored further at the button below. Data available from Damtown downstream, from approximatly mile marker 16 to 0.

Below is the assessment card used in the field to rate the parameters: canopy cover, buffer cover, bed substrate, bank erosion, cover, and geometry.

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