‘Stream Team’ pioneer addresses river cleanup

'Stream Team' pioneer addresses river cleanup One person can make a difference in cleaning up South Dakota's streams and rivers, Mark Van Patten, Missouri Department of Conservation's stream coordination biologist and Stream Team director told an audience last week in the Churchill-Haines Laboratories on the campus of The University of South Dakota. Van Patten addressed the issue during a half-hour slide presentation and question and answer session that followed.

Missouri River Institute (MRI) co-directors Bruce Barton and Brian Molyneaux said the institute sponsored "Stream Team Information Night" at USD to promote citizen awareness and involvement in river and stream conservation. They encouraged audience members to pursue Van Patten's challenge of starting the first South Dakota Stream Team.

Ten years ago as a private citizen and driven by his lifelong passion for fly fishing, Van Patten created the first "stream team," a cooperative, volunteer-driven program to save waterways. The program, which is growing nationally, began in Missouri in 1989 and currently boasts nearly 1,5000 Stream Teams in Missouri alone, with 40 percent of those in schools. The Stream Team program incorporates education, stewardship and advocacy of river conservation.

According to Van Patten, a Stream Team is a network of people who are concerned about streams and who want to restore and maintain healthy rivers. "Stream Teams are just individuals from all walks of life. School groups, car clubs, police departments or an office staff ? anybody can be a Stream Team," Van Patten said. "It's grass roots driven."

Anyone interested in becoming involved in a South Dakota Stream Team project should contact Barton and Molyneaux. "The MRI will serve as the coordinator for the South Dakota's program as well as provide ideas, support and materials for Stream Teams wanting to get started. A group can "adopt" a stream or section of river and organize a program that best suits their needs. "Many of our streams and rivers need help and we encourage groups and individuals to get involved," Barton said.

The presentation was a part of MRI's outreach program, which has recently included special lectures by Lewis and Clark historian Gary Moulton of the University of Nebraska and U.S. Senator Tim Johnson. For more information, contact: Bruce Barton, (605) 677-6180 or bbarton@usd.edu or Brian Molyneaux, (605) 677-5401, moly@usd.edu.

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