Trainings for Buckeye Brook fish count to be held on Thursday

Warwck Beacon Online
by Russell J. Moore
March 24, 2009

In an ongoing effort to monitor the herring count in Buckeye Brook, training sessions will be given by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management on Thursday evening and Saturday morning.

Paul Earnshaw, who recently became the new President of the Buckeye Brook Coalition, said that the amount of herring in the brook is a good bellwether of its overall health.

According to Bill Aldrich, a member of the coalition, those who undergo training will learn how to test the temperature of the water, the height of the river and the weather conditions. They will then report how many, if any, herring they observe. The process takes 10 minutes.

The group’s volunteers will be asked to monitor the fish count at different times throughout the course of the day to get as accurate a reading as possible.

DEM performs fish counts during the night.

There were 17 volunteers last year, and Earnshaw said he hopes to see an improvement over that number.

“Every year our number of volunteers seem to improve,” he said.

The Buckeye Brook Coalition has 35 members, and a “friends and family” e-mail list of another 120 people.

The group advocates for the environmental interests of the brook.

Those interested should go to the intersection of Buckeye Brook and the Knights of Columbus on Thursday between 5 and 6 p.m. or on Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m.

Herring are a fish that live in salt water but travel into fresh water to spawn.

A reduced fish count can signal a decline in the overall health of the Bay.

The fish count numbers increased last year, when 34,629 herring were reported.

The year prior (2007), there were 18,587 spotted. The year 2006 was a very weak year for herring, as only 9,428 were reported.

“The fish count has improved. That’s as far as I would go at this point,” said Earnshaw.

Earnshaw said that in the fifties, there were no formal counts kept, but it is believed that the fish counts were well over one million.

Aldrich said it is currently unknown why the fish counts stand at where they are.

“People don’t know why it’s been so low over years ago,” said Aldrich.