New Video Series Highlights the Value of Restoring Native Vegetation Along Kentucky’s Waterways  

By Perry Thomas
Salt River Basin Coordinator

Amanda Gumbert, PhD., extension water quality specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment, in partnership with Salt River Watershed Watch and the Kentucky Division of Water’s Nonpoint Source and Basin Team Section, has created videos that focus on the work of Dr. Greg Kuhns and his family to protect water quality and improve wildlife habitat.

From an excerpt of Gumbert’s video series interviewing Dr. Kuhns about his family’s farm in Bullitt County and their efforts to protect water quality and improve wildlife habitat.

As a volunteer monitor with the Salt River Watershed Watch, Dr. Kuhns has tracked gradual improvement of water quality in Crooked Creek in Bullitt County that corresponds with the growth of shrubs and trees along the streambanks. These streamside woodland areas, known as “riparian buffer zones,” not only stabilize banks and filter runoff but also improve aquatic habitat and serve as wildlife corridors.

Gumbert’s videos introduce riparian buffer zones to a broad audience.

Riparian Buffers in Woodlands introduces Dr. Kuhns, the importance of riparian buffers, and the efforts Dr. Kuhns has taken to establish buffer zones to protect Crooked Creek.

Maintenance of Riparian Buffers explains the typical composition of a buffer zone, and the management requirements needed.

Characteristics of a Good Quality Stream reflects on the physical, chemical, and biological components of the stream system. In this video, Russ Barnett, a Salt River Watershed Watch volunteer, reminds us that the stream’s habitat and the biological community are good indicators of the stream’s health.

The tree planting video sees Russ Barnett introduce tree species that woodland owners can plant to improve riparian zones and demonstrates how to transplant them.

Finally, in “Volunteer Monitoring – Citizen Science Opportunities,” Salt River Watershed Watch Steering Committee Chair Rebecca Trueman describes the work of volunteers with Watershed Watch in Kentucky, including Salt River Watershed Watch and six other river basin networks in the Commonwealth.

“Sometimes we have to step way back to see the whole, but we have to do the work up close,” Gumbert said. “The Crooked Creek video series is a good example of seeing the whole picture. It helps audiences connect and better understand how individual efforts help to contribute to larger endeavors. “

Amanda Gumbert, PhD., extension water quality specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment. Photo submitted.

Other examples are the Division of Water’s new Integrated Report Hub Site and Water Health Portal , which provide both wide angle and close-up views of the condition of Kentucky’s waterways.

In addition to working with other land grant universities,  Gumbert finds great benefit in collaborating with the Division of Water’s Nonpoint Source Section (NPS).

Her latest video series was supported through 319(h) funds. By amendment to the federal Clean Water Act in 1987, the Section 319(h) Grant program was established to provide funding for efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution. Each year the Division of Water applies to the U.S. EPA to receive 319(h) funding.

Gumbert said she values working with NPS staff on projects like these.

 “Working with Kentucky’s basin coordinators has been a vital part of our water quality outreach efforts,” Gumbert said. “Combining the community networks of the Cooperative Extension Service with the technical networks of the basin coordinators provides a powerful partnership for water quality education.”

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