Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is funding a project to improve water quality and restore habitat in Beaver Brook in Keene. The project will identify pollutant sources and raise public awareness of pollution sources such as stormwater runoff. The program also intends to restore habitat along Beaver Brook. The City of Keene, and Franklin School teacher Andrea Dube and her class of fifth graders are participating in the project by raising awareness about the importance of good water quality by re-introducing Atlantic salmon into Beaver Brook this spring.
DES Commissioner Michael Nolin stated , "As stewards of Beaver Brook, the students provide a wonderful example of environmental protection to the community. DES is proud to be a part of this Atlantic salmon rearing and release program."
Two-hundred Atlantic salmon eggs arrived at Franklin School in Keene in late January 2006 from the White River National Fish Hatchery at White River Junction, VT. Andrea Dube and Eric Swope, an employee of the City of Keene, prepared her 36 eager students for the salmon's arrival by teaching them about watersheds, what good water quality means for the survival of salmon, the lifecycle of the salmon, and that they can take to help keep pollutants out of the brook.
The students maintain an aquarium for the eggs, which is chilled and insulated to maintain water temperatures between 38-39 degrees Fahrenheit. Each day the students record the water temperature and do a visual check to make sure the eggs are all doing well, and to check for hatchings. Recently the classroom experienced its first hatch of a salmon named "Nemo." Having studied their lifecycle, the students have learned that the speed at which salmon develop is affected by temperature and the students will have to monitor the water temperature to assure that the rest of the eggs stay on developmental schedule to hatch in May for their release into Beaver Brook.
The students are spreading the word about the project to the rest of their school and the community. The students are educating people about the importance of keeping storm drains and the water that goes into them clean, as well as maintaining and restoring habitat, particularly along Beaver Brook, to keep the water temperatures down and the oxygen levels up for these cold water fish.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has similar fish stocking projects in parts of the Connecticut River and Ashuelot River. The salmon from Beaver Brook will eventually swim these rivers on their way to reaching the ocean.
Eric Swope sees this project as greater than just a fifth grade science experiment. He feels that it is a "very important project in generating a sense of stewardship of water quality. When the kids release the fry this spring, they know that the water quality will play a role in the survival of the salmon and I think the students will be active advocates for keeping the stream clean."
For more information on the project to improve water quality and habitat restoration project in Beaver Brook, contact Natalie Landry at (603) 559-1507.