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YOUTH RIVER ACTION PROGRAM: YOUNG ADULTS WORKING TO CONNECT SCIENCE TO CONSERVATION AND PUBLIC OUTREACH
Toben Lafrancois, Youth River Action Program, Arcola Mills
The St. Croix River has recently been designated an impaired waterway under the Clean Water Act despite both federal protection and excellent scientific knowledge about ecosystem function. This designation is alarming given the high quality of science and both federal and local management policies, suggesting a serious disconnect between science, conservation and public practices. The summer of 2007 was the pilot season for the Youth River Action Program (YRAP), a McKnight Foundation supported volunteer group intended to connect science to people in ways that directly improve the St. Croix. YRAP 2007 included five young-adult (15-19 yrs) volunteers from MN and WI. Directed by Toben Lafrançois (aquatic ecologist) and Laurie Allmann (naturalist and writer), YRAP projects integrated scientific research, public outreach, conservation projects, and artistic engagement all in an effort to make positive changes for the St. Croix watershed and river. Based on expert knowledge about the problems the river faces, the team chose to focus primarily on invasive species (Sirex noctilio, Dreissena polymorpha, and Orconectes rusticus) and urban / suburban run-off (through rain-garden education and construction). Here, we present the results from these projects, including data of interest concerning mussel midden surveys and invasive Rusty Crayfish in small tributaries. We welcome any comments regarding possible projects, opportunities, and interested applicants for the 2008 YRAP team.