Volunteers to monitor ecosystem health near Ludlow solar project

Volunteers Meaghan Rafferty, Otis Nelson, Gabrielle Macklin helping to monitor the ecosystem around the new solar project. Photo by Kelly Stettner.

LUDLOW, Vt. – In response to the recent installation of over 82,000 solar panels on a large parcel of land in Ludlow, volunteers with the Black River Action Team have donned their waders and descended upon the landscape. Wielding a fine-mesh net, a camera, and a multi-parameter water tester, BRAT director Kelly Stettner is engaging neighbors and many interested parties in collecting data and recording observations from several stream sites near the solar project. From dissolved solids in the water to the presence of tiny insect larvae at the bottom of the stream, BRAT will be assembling “baseline” data – seeing the current condition of the streams so any changes can be noticed and logged.

Gabrielle Macklin collects water samples. Photo by Otis Nelson.

Monitoring efforts will be ongoing and will become part of a long-term program that will include collecting samples to be tested at the State of Vermont’s water quality laboratory, starting in the summer of 2019.

Impacts could be minimal to non-existent, and BRAT hopes for the best but is prepared to keep a watchful eye on the salamanders, brook trout, pollution-sensitive insect life, and water quality.

Several new water testers will need to be purchased, along with calibration materials. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact BRAT Director Kelly Stettner at 802-738-0456 and leave a voice mail or email blackrivercleanup@gmail.com.

Donations to assist in purchasing water testers may be mailed to the BRAT’s fiscal agent, Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District. Make check out to “ONRCD,” please note “BRAT” in memo section, and mail to ONRCD at 28 Farmvu Rd, White River Jct, VT 05001.

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