ENVIROTHON COMPETITION STUDY MATERIALS
WHAT IS THE ENVIROTHON?
The Envirothon is a problem-solving natural resource competition for high school students. Three Pennsylvania soil and water conservation districts first implemented it in 1979, and the first national contest was held in 1988. The objectives of the event are to allow participants to gain a deeper knowledge of the effect individual actions have on environmental problems; the interactions and interdependencies of the environment; current environmental issues; the agencies available to assist them in resource-protection matters; and the need to become environmentally aware and action-oriented adults.Participants will gain a deeper knowledge of the following:
Area businesses sponsor the event and the school system partners with the following agencies to host the Envirothon: Maryland Park Service, Allegany County Forestry Board, Maryland Cooperative Extension, Allegany County Soil Conservation District, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (fisheries, wildlife, forestry), and the Maryland Association of Forest Conservancy District Board.
the affect individual actions have on environmental problems;
the interactions and inter dependencies of our environment;
current environmental issues;
the agencies available to assist them in resource protection matters;
the need to become environmentally aware, action-oriented adults.
2016 CURRENT ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE - INVASIVE SPECIES
(click HERE to access the resources)
- Invasive Species and Their Impacts
- Pathways of Introduction and Spread
- The Invasive Species Management cycle (Prevent, Detect, Respond, Control)
- Roles and Responsibilities (Government, Non-Government, the Individual)
- Tools in the Toolbox (Models, Detection Tools, Monitoring Tools, Communications)
- Explain what an invasive species is.
- Describe the economic, social, and environmental impacts of invasive species.
- Comprehend the effects/impacts of invasive species on aquatic, forest, wildlife and soil ecosystems with specific reference to biodiversity.
- Explain how ecological impacts may vary by species.
- Compare theories about the characteristics that assist invasive species in successfully establishing new populations. What makes a good invader?
- Describe the pathways through which invasive species are introduced.
- Discuss the stages of the invasive species management cycle and components of an invasive species management plan.
- Assess the costs associated with controlling an invasive species on a state/province-wide basis.
- Outline methods of controlling an invasive species.
- Understand how various levels of government and other organizations are involved in the management of invasive species.
- Are all invasive species created equal? Describe how risk is assessed.
- Discuss the means by which invasive species are detected and monitored and have a basic knowledge of models and tools used to monitor invasive species.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the policies/legislation involved in preventing, detecting, monitoring, and controlling invasive species.
- Describe the role for non-government and the average citizen in managing invasive species.
- Investigate ways to reduce the arrival of new invasive species by setting the foundations for environmentally ethical behaviors and sound environmental decision making.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the various forms of outreach and education being used and assess their effectiveness.
Aquatic Ecology Resource Site
I. Abiotic Factors
- Know the processes and phases for each part of the water cycle and understand the water cycle’s role in soil nutrient erosion, and climatic influences.
- Understand the concept and components of a watershed and be able to identify stream orders and watershed boundaries. Know the feature of a healthy watershed and an unhealthy watershed.
- Know how to perform and interpret chemical water quality tests and understand why aquatic organisms and water quality is affected by the physical, chemical, and biological conditions of the water.
Intro to Ecosystem:
Natural Resources Conservation Service: How to read a topo map and delineate a watershed.
Maryland Biological Stream Survey: Pages 44 and 59.
Basic Concepts On Watersheds:
USGS Water Science Basics-What is the Water Cycle?
Georgia Adopt a Stream Manual on Biological and Chemical Stream Monitoring:
Intro to Watershed Ecology:
II. Biotic Factors
- Understand the dependence of all organisms on one another and how energy and matter flow within an aquatic ecosystem.
- Understand the concept of carrying capacity for a given aquatic ecosystem, and be able to discuss how competing water usage may affect the ability of the system to sustain wildlife, forestry, and anthropogenic needs.
- Identify common, rare, threatened, and endangered aquatic species as well as Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) through the use of a key.
- Know how to perform biological water quality monitoring tests and understand why these tests are used to assess and manage aquatic environments.
EPA: An Introduction to Freshwater Fishes as Biological Indicators, Page 4:
Intro to an Ecosystem:
From Sun to Sunfish:
Maryland Fisheries Management:
Stream Quality Assessment Form using Macroinvertebrates:
Macroinvertebrate Dichotomous Key:
III. Aquatic Environments
- Identify aquatic and wetland environments based on their physical, chemical, and biological characteristics.
- Know characteristics of different types of aquifers, and understand historical trends and threats to groundwater quantity and quality.
- Understand societal benefits and ecological functions of wetlands.
- Understand the functions and values of riparian zones and be able to identify riparian zone areas.
Introduction to an Ecosystem:
Benefits of Riparian Zones:
Chesapeake Bay Program pages:
USGS Ground Water:
IV. Water Protection and Conservation
- Understand how education programs and enforcement agencies are working together to protect aquatic habitats and preventing those who use our waterways from inadvertently transporting Aquatic Nuisance Species from one river to another.
- Interpret major provincial and/or federal laws and methods used to protect water quality (surface and ground water). Utilize this information to propose management decisions that would improve the quality of water in a given situation.
- Be familiar with the federal, state, and county agencies that provide oversight of water resources, and understand that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a useful and important tool in the management of water resources.
- Identify global and local sources of point and non-point source pollution and be able to discuss methods to reduce point and non-point source pollution.
- Understand the interaction of competing uses of water for water supply, hydropower, navigation, wildlife, recreation, waste assimilation, irrigation, and industry.
- Know the meaning of water conservation, and understand why it is important.
Maryland Invasive Species:
Maryland Invasive Species Council:
Aquatic Nuisance Species:
EPA: Understanding the Safe Drinking Water Act:
Critical Area Commission:
EPA Chesapeake Bay TMDL:
V. Electronic Resources (good to know)
In addition to the resources listed above, you can find useful information below about various aquatic topics. Keep in mind that test questions do not come directly from these sources.
Characteristics of a Watershed
Provides profiles of a watershed's geography, ecosystem condition, industry, planning resources and watershed management activities. http://mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/wsprofiles/surf/prof/prof.html
Provides basic information, definitions, and concepts of stream ecology and assessment.
Maryland Crayfish Dichotomous Key
Maryland Freshwater Fish Dichotomous Key:
VI. Teacher Resources
Project WET/Healthy Water, Healthy People/Discover a Watershed
For information on these materials, please contact Cindy Etgen at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us/education/are/
Eyes on the Bay, visit www.eyesonthebay.net
IMPORTANT NOTE: FOR THE STATE TEST, GENERAL RESPONSES SUCH AS “POLLUTION” OR “POOR WATER QUALITY” WILL NOT BE ACCEPTABLE. A PARTICULAR TYPE OR SOURCE OF POLLUTANT MUST BE LISTED. BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE!!!
Non-Point Source Pollution and Forests
Non point source pollution is found in all land use types: urban, agricultural, meadows and forests. Erosion is the mechanism in non point source pollution with runoff from precipitation causing the soil to wear away. Of the four land use types listed above, forests are the least polluting land cover of all. The forest canopy intercepts precipitation that falls, reducing the impact of the rain droplets. The branches and leaves catching the water droplets allow the water to slowly run down the stem or drip slowly to the ground water. Interestingly enough, the forest floor is the most crucial feature of the forest’s ability to prevent erosion. The forest floor is comprised of a complex mix of leaves, twigs and downed branches in various stages of decomposition, along with roots, fungal mycelium, soil fauna and microbes. This natural ‘mulch’ protects the soil from exposure to rain droplets. Forests can soak up the rainfall from up to a 6” rain storm, absorbing the water and releasing it to ground water without significant erosion. Erosion being a natural process, undisturbed forests still contribute some sediment and nutrients, but at a negligible rate, less than ½ ton per year.
The time when forest land is most vulnerable to erosion is during disturbances. When the trees and litter layer of the forest are disturbed, the soil that had been protected by the vegetation is exposed to the forces of wind and rain. Forests are subject to natural disturbance such as wildfires, wind storms and earthquakes. Wildfires that burn intensely which happens often during droughts, can burn off the forest floor leaving exposed soil with little to no cover to prevent precipitation and wind from eroding the soil away. Soil loss rates of up to 60 tons per acre have been recorded on post-fire land.
Human caused disturbances, such as timber harvest, are the other way forests become vulnerable to erosion. The actual cutting of a tree or even several trees in and of itself will not normally lead to erosion. However, building forest roads needed to haul the logs out to the mill can lead to erosion. Landing areas, which are areas cleared to allow the loading of the logs on trucks, are also subject to erosion as the soil is usually churned up and exposed during the harvest operation.
To prevent erosion during harvesting activities, methods and practices known as “Best Management Practices” or BMPs have been developed through careful research to minimize the movement of soil from the site. BMPs can consist of anything from placing waterbars across roads to constructing roads at the proper grades to using mats when crossing small streams. Other BMPs include seeding skid trails when they are no longer needed to stabilize the soil. Used in the appropriate place, BMPs can almost eliminate movement of soil from the harvest site. See the attached links for more information and detailed descriptions.
MD Forest Harvest BMPs: