Jake Hill has joined the Ausable River Association as the 2020 summer River Steward.
The river steward is an information resource to river users and the general public, educating and creating awareness, and helping people to identify and mitigate the spread of non-native infestations when they happen.
This summer, Hill is expected to focus on teaching river users how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. One of the most effective methods of doing this is by spreading the Check-Clean-Dry message to encourage anglers to remove “invasive hitchhikers” from their gear.
The Ausable River Association wader wash stations are one way that anglers can clean their gear. Anglers soak their waders and boots for 60 seconds and then let them dry before fishing to avoid transporting harmful invasive species into the Ausable’s pristine waters. Beyond maintaining and promoting these stations, Jake will also monitor the river and watershed for new invasive species infestations, both terrestrial and aquatic.
The River Steward position was created in 2009 with funding from the Lake Champlain Basin Program to educate river users about the threat of aquatic invasive species. Since then, the work of the river steward has broadened to include terrestrial invasive species that also affect the Ausable River and its lakes.
This program was modeled after the Adirondack Watershed Institute’s Boat Steward program and has developed into an invaluable resource for protecting our waterways. As a measure of this program’s success, 78% of Ausable River anglers and boaters surveyed in 2019 said they practiced aquatic invasive species spread prevention methods before entering the River, a 17% increase from the prior year.
Growing up outside of Albany, Hill says he took many trips to the Adirondacks where he developed a deep connection to the area. He graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2018 with a B.A. in biology and minors in geological sciences and environmental studies. Following graduation, he moved to southern Utah to complete an AmeriCorps term in their Leadership Development Program.
Since returning to New York, Hill has worked as a water quality program assistant for New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, giving him additional experience with water quality monitoring and plant surveys.
More information about the Ausable River Association and their river steward program is available on their website.
Photo of Wader Wash station provided.