Community Science Opportunities

The Rockland County Division of Environmental Resources, Soil & Water Conservation District and Water Quality Coordinating Committee provide several community science opportunities for volunteers throughout the year. 

Some of our volunteer opportunities include:

  • Stream biomonitoring
  • American eel project
  • Culvert assessment
  • Much more! See program descriptions below and the volunteer opportunities newsletter for complete information.

Learn new skills and meet new friends!
Age requirements vary by project, please reach out to us to learn more.

Contact: Brianna Rosamilia, Conservation District Technician
Office: 845-364-2719

Volunteer Stream Biomonitoring Program

Stream_Monitor.jpgVolunteers conduct physical, chemical and biological surveys of Rockland County's streams to monitor the current state of streams' health and assess the level of impairment. Streams are affected by the amount and type of pollutants that dissolve/flow into them, via storm drains and runoff.  Pollutants include sediment resulting from soil erosion from developments and construction sites; nitrogen, phosphorous and pesticides leaching from lawns, and roadway and parking lot runoff such as car oil, and litter.

The purpose for monitoring our waterways is to:

  • Collect baseline water quality data for our streams in Rockland County.
  • Connect citizens with their local streams through education and hands on involvement.
  • Allow public access to water quality monitoring information for educational purposes.

This program is a collaboration between The Rockland County Soil & Water Conservation District and The Rockland County Division of Environmental Resources. The program started in Spring 2006 and is in partnership with The N.Y.S. Soil and Water Conservation Committee.

The program is now using the NYS DEC Water Assessment by Volunteer Evaluators (WAVE) monitoring protocol. The season runs from July 1st- September 30th.

Take a look at one of our recent studies and view the Sparkill Creek Watershed Report Card:
Sparkill Creek Watershed Report Card

New volunteers are always welcome! If you are interested please call our office at (845) 364-2670.

American eel Projects

Eel.jpgThe Rockland County Division of Environmental Resources and the Soil and Water Conservation District, in addition to local watershed groups and educators, work with the NYS DEC to offer the American eel Project at Minisceongo Creek (MC) located in West Haverstraw and Ferdon Dam along the Sparkill Creek (SC)!

The American eel Projects are sponsored by the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve and Water Resource Institute at Cornell University.

The MC project season is mid March through the end of May, depending upon the weather conditions. The American eel project takes place at tributaries across the Hudson River Estuary from NYC to Greene County.  Rockland County plays host to this project at the mouth of the mighty Minisceongo Creek, located on the Genon Energy site, showcasing the unique relationship between industry and the natural environment. Over the years, many volunteers have dedicated their time to monitor this catadromous species.

American_eel_SC_ladder.jpgTo monitor these eels, volunteers are responsible for counting, weighing, and relocating glass eels caught inside the fyke net. Eels are relocated above the nearest barrier to aid in their long journey upstream.  Since 2008, volunteers have counted over 1 million glass eels throughout the Hudson River estuary!

The SC project begins in June and runs through October annually.  Volunteers check an installed eel ladder three times per week throughout the season.  Volunteers are formally trained and assess the ladder in groups, pulling the ladder up to eye level, checking the bucket for eels, measuring eels for total length and relocating them above the dam.

New volunteers are always welcome!

Wild Oyster Survey

Image by Tom Winner, a volunteer who found this dead oyster along the Pier.
In 2018, RC SWCD partnered with The Billion Oyster Project and NY Harbor Foundation to pilot a new study along the Piermont Pier.  Volunteers were trained to search for living and dead oysters along the north and south end of the Pier. Volunteers are trained in how to ID oyster shells, check if they are alive, measure total height of the shell, and record data in their provided data binder.

The study's purpose is to help identify locations that have existing populations of oysters. The presence of the wild oysters will signal that the area may be suitable for oyster restoration. Oysters improve biodiversity within the Hudson River Estuary and improve water quality.

Storm Drain Marking Program

Storm_drain_marker_photo_by_unknown_no_photo_release_needed.jpgStorm Drain Markers make people aware that every storm drain in Rockland County empties into a river, stream, reservoir, wetland, pond or the Hudson River. A common denominator of all residents is the storm drain system in the street near our homes. Unaware, people may think that the waste goes to our sewage disposal plants, but pollutants instead go into storm drains and thus directly into our streams and rivers. The problem includes yard waste, paint, waste oil, pesticides, pet droppings and other household hazardous waste.

The Rockland County Division of Environmental Resources was eager to protect Rockland County's water resources from such pollution by initiating the Storm Drain Marker Program. We created a low-tech, educational project that would emanate like a ripple in a pond - neighborhood to neighborhood. The program assists citizens and municipalities in applying storm drain markers at local storm drains. The 2-1/2 inch, round, plastic markers carry the message, "No Dumping Drains to Stream," and feature a picture of a fish. An educational brochure for distribution to residents accompanies the markers.

Storm_Drain_Marking_Program__by_Nicole_Laible.jpgWhen people see the markers and read the brochure, they will get the message that each of us can help to safeguard our water supply by ensuring, "only rain goes down the drain".

All supplies are free to participants.

For more information, click on the Storm Drain Marking Program Brochure.

Waterway Cleanups

WQC_2.jpgWaterway cleanups are hosted in partnership with Keep Rockland Beautiful (KRB) during their Fall Waterways Campaign.  All cleanups are open to the public.  Supplies are provided by KRB and all waste and recyclables removed from our waterways aids in protecting our banks, water quality and creating enjoyable spaces for recreation.

Visit Keep Rockland Beautiful to register for upcoming cleanups.