Wanted – Committed Citizen Scientists to Help Monitor the Health of the River Foss by Kick Sampling

The River Foss Society is soon to be part of a Citizen Science project, working in partnership with the Environment Agency, St Nick’s and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, to monitor the entire river catchment including chemical and biological water quality, the presence or absence of water vole, otter and mink, the improvement of bankside vegetation management, etc.

An important part of this project will involve regular biannual sampling of the macroinvertebrates, those small and often unnoticed creatures without backbones that provide a food source for fish, birds and mammals, help to maintain water quality by feeding on and breaking down organic matter and are also incredibly useful as indicators of pollution.

This is where the kick sampling comes in. We need teams of two people to work together to sample a site or sites along the Foss from the Fairy Trail up to Oulston, twice a year in spring and autumn but more often if you’re keen, to provide a baseline of current biological water quality, to build on this over the coming years and, hopefully, record improvements in the river’s health over time but also identify where pollution is entering the river. We have 14 potential sites that we would like to monitor. Kick sampling involves one of the team getting into the river (we’ve chosen sites that have easy access and we only sample when river levels are low enough to be safe), kicking the river’s substrate and catching any dislodged creatures in a net. The animals found are then identified and counted and from what we find we can assess the biological health of the river at that site using biological indices.

Training will be given in the correct way to kick sample, the identification of the animals found and how to use them to assess water quality.

If you would like more information or would like to get involved in this really important work, please contact Barbara_Hilton@msn.com. I look forward to hearing from some budding citizen scientists as this is a real opportunity for you to help assess and monitor the health of your local river and, with the current state of our rivers, they need all the practical help they can get.