Science and Society Papers

    Cacapon Institute recently initiated a series of papers with the goal of "seeking a more definitive understanding of water quality issues in the Potomac watershed." We are interested in your thoughts or comments.  Email us at  With your permission, we would like to share your responses with our readers

1.  The first paper in the series is "Farmer Participation in Riparian Buffer Zone Programs."  Well vegetated riparian zones, the strip of land bordering rivers, can trap a large proportion of bacteria, nutrients ands sediment that might otherwise flow into rivers from agricultural lands.   Outreach Coordinator Peter Maille interviewed eight farmers and five extension/conservation professionals to determine the strengths and weaknesses of government programs that support riparian zone conservation on farms in the Potomac Headwaters.  For results, some discussion and a "modest" proposal, Click Here (33 KB, PDF file). 

2.  "A Comparison of Professional and Volunteer Methods for Assessing Stream Health, Including Discussion of an Improved Volunteer Method".  In recent years, the science of using animals to assess stream health has gone public. The Izaak Walton League's Save Our Streams (SOS) program and other volunteer methods are similar in general design to the methods used by professional biologists, but tailored to the capabilities of non-professionals. Cacapon Institute compared results from WVs volunteer SOS monitoring and the more scientifically rigorous stream assessment methods used by WVs Division of Environmental Protection. We found that SOS Stream Scores as currently calculated often overestimate the health of a stream in comparison to professional assessments. We propose a modified volunteer method that generates results that compare favorably to professional assessments, and utilizes the same collection technique and the same level of identification skill currently required of SOS volunteers.  To learn more, Click Here (100 KB, PDF file).

3.  The USEPA is proposing new nutrient criteria for our rivers, lakes and estuaries, specifically designed to protect ecosystem health.  For details and a CI slide slow on the issue click here.





Cacapon Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay, we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.

Cacapon Institute
PO Box 68
High View, WV 26808
304-856-1385 (tele)
304-856-1386 (fax)
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Frank Rodgers,  Executive Director

Website  made possible by funding from The Norcross Wildlife Foundation,  the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Environmental Endowment, NOAA-BWET, USEPA, The MARPAT Foundation, and our generous members.