As we started this project (spring 2017), our 6th grade students took up study of the Marsh, building from the previous year’s 8th grade Alewife Project, which investigated outlet water flow rates from the Marsh and documented the passage of alewives into their natal waters for the first time in over 30 years. In December of 2016, the town’s Conservation Committee voted to adopt the 8th grade’s findings and recommendations of their 2016 report to the town, in order to continue our community’s alewife restoration efforts and to move forward to enact those recommendations.
This project first focused on water quality studies of the entire Marsh watershed. While analyzing water chemistry data we examined the relationship of the land to the water and human impacts (past and present) within the watershed.
This project was originally supported by grant funding by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the St George Parent Group and community donors.
Our Guiding Questions
How might surrounding lands (cover type and land use) impact the water moving through the watershed and into the Marsh?
How does the upper flowage water body relate to the water levels of the Marsh?
How do the various habitats of this watershed provide resources for wildlife, including alewives?
- Contribute site specific knowledge that helps our community understand alewife ecology
- Create a community map using GIS and GPS information to display our watershed knowledge
- Provide students experiential learning investigating the ecological functions of wetlands, the interrelationships between land and water within a watershed, including groundwater
- Learn and apply technology and science skills
- Foster stewardship values and active citizenry
- Travel throughout the watershed
- Use topographic maps to understand land contours and the concept of a watershed.
- Use “stream tables” to model the effects of water moving over land surfaces.
- Sample water chemistry along different points of the watershed.
- Use GIS data to create a unique map containing multiple resource “layers” for the town
- Learn about the gasoline spill from underground storage tanks in town that led to the town wells and tour the town’s well water site and facility.
- Visit the Damariscotta Fish Ladder to view a healthy, sustainable alewife run.
Now, in the spring of 2019, we have received grant support from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Vital Signs “Freshwater Mini-Grant” program to construct a digital temperature and salinity station and deploy it in the marsh for the collection of real time data. A new Natural Resources Council of Maine grant is supporting our plants to raise alewive eggs and manipulate salinity of their water and make conclusions about the impact of salinity on the survival of eggs and fry.
Alison England, Middle Level Science
St. George School