Blue Trails have the extraordinary potential to make rivers and communities healthier. You can’t have a successful Blue Trail without a healthy river. Through this guide, you have planned for and built your Blue Trail with conservation goals in mind but your work to protect your blue trail does not stop there.
Monitoring plays a key role in protection and stewardship. Monitoring is also a great way for people to get to know their river. Monitoring is observing or measuring selected features of your river in order to assess its health, the ability of the ecosystem to support human uses, detect early warning of changes, provide insight into the causes of problems, and tell you whether you have achieved your management and conservation goals.
A volunteer water quality monitoring program can help fill in important data gaps. They provide the basis for identification of problems needing immediate attention and for long-term trend evaluation. Consider implementing a monitoring program for your Blue Trail. Schools and universities in your community may already have such programs on or near your river.
Designing a monitoring program involves determining why you want to collect information, choosing indicators, methods, and sites, determining the time of year, day, and frequency of your monitoring, and assuring the quality of your results. For more information on monitoring contact a representative of your state volunteer monitoring program (your state water quality agency should be able to help find this person if such a program exists in your state).
Learn how about the Waccamaw Riverkeeper’s award winning river monitoring program.
Additionally, EPA offers these resources on monitoring:
Enforcement plays an equally important role in protecting your resource. If something is wrong or you suspect illegal activity along your Blue Trail contact your state environmental department, water managers, or non-profit conservation organizations to get advice on how to enforce current laws and regulations.