At the end of last week I was gearing up to start recruiting for my social trail monitoring program when my supervisor and I took stock of my project and realized that we were working with fewer trails than we had perhaps expected. In one sense, it’s great that I did not find many informal trails in the places I surveyed! But for my program, less trails means less volunteers and ultimately, a smaller scale project. We decided that a well-designed project with a limited scope might not be the worst thing for a pilot program – entice them with a little bit of good data and see if they don’t ask for more! What to do with me in the meantime, though? I will still be seeing my social trailing project through, but I have also taken on creating a citizen science monitoring program for formal trail conditions. 

So I’m back to reviewing research and drafting protocols, but with prior experience, the process is much smoother than last time. That leaves time for me to respond to volunteers interested in the social trailing project and continue my water quality testing duties – though recently, heavy rains have been impacting my ability to do the latter. Yesterday, the bridge where I collect samples was closed due to flooding but the USGS gage at that site was still broadcasting. It estimated 67100 colony forming units of E. coli per 100 mL (CFU/100mL) of river water! For comparison, an advisory is posted for anything above 235 CFU/100mL. When the road was reopened, I went out to collect a sample and found the waters several feet higher and much faster than I remembered. As the park prepares for the Xtinguish Torch Fest, which is meant to celebrate all the progress we have made since the Cuyahoga River last caught fire, I have to laugh through my dismay because this crooked river does always seem to have a mind of its own. Hopefully the paddlers will be able to get out on the water this Friday, but if not, we’ll still have a good time. 

A bend of the Cuyahoga River.

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