2012 Stream Evaluation Data

In July 2012, students collected data from a section of New Hope Creek located in the Korstian Division of the Duke Forest. Data included physical, chemical, and biotic measurements. The students also completed initial visual stream assessments:


2012 ESSP students conducting visual stream analysis.

VISUAL STREAM ASSESSMENT 1 by Princess Malik and Moneet Virk

Today, on July 24, 2012, Princess Malik and Moneet Virk conducted a visual stream assessment on a section of New Hope Creek between 9:30 am and 10:30 am. This creek is located in the middle of Duke Forest in Orange Co, NC.


There was a storm that had passed over the area in the last 24 hours which resulted in a damp and slick setting. However, the weather seemingly cleared up quickly and was sunny during the assessment.

Water Appearance/Chanel Condition

The first noticeable trait about the creek was that there was a slight meander. In other words, the creek had a slight “s” shape to it which is what most healthy creeks would have. The water in the creek itself was not the clearest. However, it was not excessively murky either. The color of the creek was brown/muddy, and there was minimal algae growth.  The dominant substrates were a mixture of silt and mud. The odor of the water was seemingly normal until one went into the water then a foul smell could be noticed. This could have been the result of several combining factors such as the smell of decaying matter, mud, etc.

Bank Stability and Riparian Zone                                       

There was erosion along the creek, outside of the meander opposite from where the visual stream assessment was taking place. Although that side was slightly eroding, it did have a very good buffer zone because there was vegetation at least half the width of the creek. Most healthy creeks would have buffer zones about the width of the creek itself on both sides. However New Hope Creek only had a healthy buffer zone on one side of the creek. The vegetation grew significantly downstream as the walking path disappeared into the vegetation.

Canopy Cover and Invertebrate Habitat/In stream Fish Cover

Because there was moderate canopy coverage (overhanging trees that block out the sun) the stream remained primarily protected from the sunlight.  There were plenty of invertebrate habitats provided for by the creek such as floating logs, embedded boulders, floating leaf litter or even on the overhanging trees. No fish were spotted today. However, tadpoles were spotted which allows us to concur that frogs and other organisms live in the creek.

Assessment Scores

Channel Condition 7
Bank Stability 7
Nutrient Enrichment 7
Riffle Embeddedness 3
Riparian Zone 4
Water Appearance 7
Instream Fish Cover 5
Invertebrate Habitat 10
Canopy Cover 6
Overall Score 6.2

The overall assessment score of 6.2 is judged as in fair condition. 


VISUAL STREAM ASSESSMENT 2 by Seyi Gbadegesin and Trevor Hamlett

Seyi and I did a visual assessment of the New Hope Creek in Duke Forest on the border of Durham and Orange County.  Over the past 24 hours before we went to the stream there had been a storm so the soil was very moist.  The weather today was clear and humid. The stream was brown in color, had minimal algal growth, and had no unusual smells such as petroleum or sewage.  The width of the channel was 46 ft., and the most common type of soil on the bottom of the river was silt and mud. Here are the different assessment scores we gave the stream and explanations:

Assessment Category Assessment Score
Channel Condition 5
Bank Stability 5
Nutrient Enrichment 6
Instream Fish Cover 10
Pools 7
Invertebrate Habitat 10
Riffle Embeddedness 3
Canopy Cover 10
Water Appearance 2
Riparian Zone 9


Assessment Score Explanations (Score):

Channel Condition (5): channel was altered, excess sediment accumulated on the channel

Bank Stability (5): The banks we were standing on were shallow, however the banks on the opposite side were tall, and collapsed trees showed that they were unstable.

Nutrient enrichment (6): The water was not clear; however there were not many algal blooms

Instream Fish Cover (10): There were about 9 different types of fish cover.  Fish cover is items in the stream such as logs, deep pool, overhanging vegetation, etc.

Pools (7): At first it seemed like the whole stream was shallow, but when I walked in the stream I noticed that there were quite a few pools that were at least 3 feet deep.

Invertebrate Habitat (10): there were a lot of logs and woody debris, boulders, submerged logs, etc.  There were plenty of different habitats where invertebrates could live.

Riffle Embeddedness (3): Most of the rocks were more than halfway covered with sand, silt, etc.

Canopy Cover (10): There were plenty of trees and other vegetation providing a decent amount of shade for the stream.

Water Appearance (2): The water in the stream was brown and muddy looking instead of the ideal clear color.

Riparian Zone:  10 since the stream ran through the forest, there was plenty of vegetation all around the banks.

Some problems that Seyi and I noticed were that erosion is a huge problem at the stream.  In some places the erosion was so bad that some trees had collapsed into the stream.  The water was very turbid, and in most spots the stream floor was not visible.  One of the other researchers, had an underwater camera, but it was useless, because the stream was so turbid.  Seyi and I also noticed that toward the end of the stream vegetation had grown stopping the flow of water.  This could be a problem because it slows the flow of the whole stream.