SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - Wittenberg University Professor of Geology John B. Ritter and junior geology major Joe Rumschlag have teamed up to help Clark County develop a protection program for area streams.
The project, sponsored by the Clark County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and expected to be completed by February 2005, will assist local landowners in preserving their property while increasing water quality and reducing the downstream impact of flooding.
As part of the project, Ritter and Rumschlag regularly travel the 20 miles to the Sinking Creek and Libson Fork areas to survey local streams using an Advantage laser rangefinder and a stadia rod. The rangefinder relies on Global Positioning Systems technology to measure distances and survey points, while the stadia rod measures water depths. The team also plans to include the North Fork Little Miami River, Kenton Creek, East Fork Honey Creek, East Fork Buck Creek, Jackson Creek and Mud Run in their research.
During each visit, Ritter and Rumschlag spend upwards of eight hours collecting data and sediment samples at several cross-sections, measuring the distance the stream has meandered, and creating longitudinal profiles and GIS riffles. They then transfer the information into digital files using specially designed software, which allows them to analyze watershed characteristics.
An Urban Stream grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources assists the SWCD in funding field transportation and the researchers’ time, but equipment costs and other expendables are funded in part by research grants awarded to Ritter through the Wittenberg Faculty Research Fund Board (WFRFB) and to Rumschlag through the same board’s summer research program.
The SWCD project marks the third time Ritter and Rumschlag have worked together. The research team previously collaborated on a Beaver Creek study for a class in process geomorphology, and it is currently employing GIS technology to assist Oakwood Village with an analysis of existing and potential walking paths.
“I have always tried to have students involved in various aspects of my research, particularly when their interests and ability match my expectations," Ritter said. “I knew I could count on Joe to not only do the work, but do it at a fairly professional level. He has the combination of academic ability, work ethic and personal character that I look for in a student of geology,” he added.
Rumschlag enjoys applying the methodology and concepts he’s learning in the classroom to study in the field. “Knowing that the work Dr. Ritter and I are doing will benefit others in the community is really exciting,” he said.
Rumschlag is a native of Toledo, Ohio, and a graduate of Toledo Christian High School. In addition to his work with the local conservation effort, he is a three-year letterwinner on the Wittenberg track and field team, a wide receiver on the Tiger football squad and an officer with Athletes for Christ.
Ritter plans to present the team’s findings at meetings of the Ohio Academy of Science and the Geological Society of America.
“The larger population in general will never know what we did,” Ritter said, “but we know that the integrity of the streams will be much higher, and the community will benefit.”
Written by Arundati Dandapani '07, University Communications intern.
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