USFS CitSci Project Workshops

We have wrapped up our final USFS CitSci Project Workshop for 2020!

AWW and the National Forests in Alabama held three water quality monitoring workshops in the Bankhead, Tuskegee , and Conecuh National Forests. We would like to thank everyone who attended these workshops, and especially all of the the project participants who have picked up sites to monitor!

Tuskegee National Forest workshop participants braving the rain and cold!

Forest Fact: National Forests in Alabama are part of the USDA Forest Service, encompass 668,000 acres of public land and are comprised of four national forests – Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega, and Tuskegee.


Each workshop included certifications in Water Chemistry and Bacteriological Monitoring Workshops as part of the U.S. Forest Service Water Monitoring Project. On the first day of the workshop, participants were introduced to the Alabama Water Watch and National Forest in Alabama programs. Participants also learned the method for detecting E.coli and other coliforms in a waterbody.

Bankhead workshop participants practice taking 1 mL samples with a sterile pipette for bacteriological monitoring practices.

On the second day of each workshop, we were out monitoring on the National Forests learning how to test for water chemistry parameters, including pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, alkalinity, and hardness. Rainy, cold days were no match for our dedicated volunteers!

Tuskegee workshop participants learn how to test for dissolved oxygen in between rain showers.

The goal of this project is to establish a network of AWW citizen scientists in the National Forests of Alabama who can assist with the collection of water data in priority watersheds. Priority watersheds were identified through the USDA Forest Service’s Watershed Condition Framework which establishes a consistent, comparable, and credible process for improving the health of watersheds on national forests.

Bankhead workshop participants brave the cold (below 40 degrees!) to collect samples.

Water data collected by volunteer monitors will be used to evaluate to what extend current management practices are resulting in clean water for the Forests, its ecosystems, and the public. More specifically, the data will help determine the condition of the streams within the priority watersheds, establish baseline data for the watersheds, and develop a Watershed Restoration Action Plan (WRAP) to make better land management decisions within each forest.

Conecuh workshop participants learn how to test for pH.

High school and middle school students from Walker and Winston County 4-H were certified in a Water Chemistry Monitoring Workshop the day following the USFS Bankhead Workshop. A group of these students will be monitoring one of the Bankhead project sites.

4-H club students learn about point and non-point-source pollution through the Enviroscape watershed model.

Sites were selected on each forest based on distance from the road to the stream, accessibility, and stream condition. You can view the project sites through the Data by Maps tool under the “Water Data” tab on www.alabamawaterwatch.org.

You can explore the priority watersheds determined by the USFS through their online Watershed Condition and Prioritization Interactive Map tool.

Example map from the Watershed Condition and Prioritization Interactive Map. (Source: https://apps.fs.udsa.gov/wcatt/

There were a total of 47 workshop participants and 26 of those folks have volunteered to monitor one or more sites in the selected National Forests.

One of the beautiful monitoring sites in the Bankhead National Forest.

There are eight project monitoring sites in the Bankhead, eight in the Tuskegee, and seven in the Conecuh.

Southern Cricket Frogs are one of the many animal species you can find in the Conecuh National Forest.

Forest Fact: Southern Cricket Frogs are one one of the many critters you can find in the Conecuh NF, along with Gopher Tortoises, Indigo Snakes, and Red Cockaded Woodpeckers.


So far, project volunteers have collected 9 Water Chemistry and 17 Bacteriological Monitoring data records on 11 sites in the forests (as of the date this blog was published).

If you are interested in following the monitoring efforts in the National Forests of Alabama, check Data by Tables or Data by Maps under the “Water Data” tab on the AWW website. You can find the data under the groups, USFS Bankhead NF, USFS Tuskegee NF, and USFS Conecuh NF.

Check back in a few months for data updates!