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Armed with nets, ice cube trays, and buckets, a merry band of bug-chasers followed ecologist Lia Chasar along the river shore at Green River Meadows on an October Saturday for a special event in Vermont River Conservancy’s Face the River series. Their mission: discover the amazing insects that call this river home.
Under Lia’s guidance, everyone began turning over rocks and moving leaf litter, looking for critters that cling to rocks, shelter in crevices, scrape algae from stones, shred leaf litter into tasty morsels, and even prey on small fish and other bugs. These critters, called aquatic macroinvertebrates because they live in the water and are big enough to see with the naked eye, make up essential ecological communities in our rivers and are important indicators of water quality. The search sparked playfulness and curiosity among participants, who represented an age range of 70 years from youngest to oldest and included members of the Guilford Conservation Commission and the Green River Village Preservation Trust, as well as neighbors who call the Green River Home.
Lia, an expert host, introduced each of the creatures and their importance for the health of the ecosystem. Meanwhile, some of the youngest guests turned out to be experts already in eking out stoneflies and mayflies! After gathering and observing an amazing array of creatures, participants released them back into the river. Read about and see the macroinvertebrates this group discovered below.
The abundance of macroinvertebrates, especially mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, and others sensitive to environmental conditions, speaks to the good water quality in the Green River. This is cause for celebration, especially since Green River Meadows hasn’t always been a scenic place to fish, walk, or swim. Until Steve and Linda Lembke rallied neighbors to voice concerns to Vermont River Conservancy, the site was an abandoned junkyard, piled high with cars and scrap metal. With their determination to save this site and VRC’s partnership, it is now a great spot to enjoy nature in many forms.
Since moving to Windham County in June, our Southern Vermont Conservation Manager, Hayley, is getting to know longtime VRC collaborators in the area like Linda and Steve – and making new connections, like Lia who led this bug bonanza. According to Hayley, she and the wonderful guest ecologist met through their flute ensemble at Brattleboro Music Center. Collaborations like these are the magic that happens when you live and work in the same communities!
Lia Chasar is a retired U.S. Geological Survey ecologist. She has worked on several projects with the USGS and conducted research in multiple states and ecosystems. She moved to the peaceful woods of Guilford in 2021 to take care of her family. As Lia tells us, she was excited to get involved with VRC and share her extensive knowledge with people of all ages and interests.
This chance for community members of all ages to get their boots wet and their bug hats on with Vermont River Conservancy was made possible by AARP Vermont.