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Friends of Cabin John Creek board member Roy Seidenstein gathers macroinvertebrates from Cabin John Creek, Oct. 18, 2020. Photo by Burr Gray, FOCJC.

Salt Watch Program

Want to help keep our creeks clean? Be a citizen scientist and help us and our partner Izaak Walton league of America monitor harmful salts in our streams. Go to to order a free test kit and get out there!


Salt Watch is a community science program aimed at identifying salt pollution hot spots and raising awareness on smart salting practices. Salt keeps our roads and sidewalks safe in the winter months, but too much can harm our streams and our water supply.


New Bacterial Monitoring Program

We completed our pilot program in the summer of 2022 testing E-Coli in Cabin John Creek. Come help us test each E-Coli each summer, sign up at

Current Monitoring Program


October 2020: We Saw Lots of Biodiversity, but Poor Habitat

The Friends of Cabin John Creek (FOCJC) stream monitoring team spends about 4 hours each quarter catching and identifying macroinvertebrates in the Cabin John Creek at Cabin John Local Park. As of the latest county reporting in 2015, the Cabin John Creek Watershed was rated "Fair" for benthic macroinvertebrates, fish species, and habitat. The creek suffers from silting, erosion and flooding (check out this video when the creek becomes more of a river!)

Although we have many different types of critters are hanging in there, they were mostly the somewhat-pollution-tolerant and very-pollution-tolerant kind. We were happy to see some pollution-sensitive darner dragonflies and many fingernet caddis fly larvae. The usual suspects include pollution tolerant mayfly larvae, caddis fly larvae, black fly larvae, midges, crane fly larvae, aquatic worms, and sowbugs.

Friends of Cabin John Creek works in partnership with Nature Forward and follow their protocols. The data is entered into their database that tracks stream conditions in Montgomery County and Maryland. 


Friends of Cabin John Creek Vice President Sandy Laden used a microscope to identify macroinvertebrate species at the Oct. 18, 2020, water quality monitoring event. Photo by Burr Gray, FOCJC.

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Volunteers from Friends of Cabin Creek and the Audubon Naturalist Society working to identify macroinvertebrates sampled from the creek in Cabin John Local Park in June 2020. Photo by Greg Gurley, FOCJC.

Initial Creek Health Monitoring in the 2000s


In October 2000, Friends of Cabin John Creek began a six-year water quality monitoring program in which volunteers collected and analyzed stream samples from sites throughout the watershed.  Water quality monitoring data can be used to establish a baseline measurement of ecosystem health, identify and prioritize pollution problems, and gauge whether restoration efforts are successful. 


At its peak, the program collected data four times annually at 10 sites with approximately 50 volunteers participating.  Most of the sampling and analysis was conducted using the Izaac Walton League’s Save Our Streams Benthic Macro Invertebrate (BMI) Protocol. Additional measurements included turbidity, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, vegetation, and erosion. Monitoring results were submitted to the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), to supplement their monitoring program, and FoCJC also participated in the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Stream Waders monitoring program.


Monitoring sessions were held on one day during the first three full weekends of the month in May, July, and September,  and optionally in December-February.  Training sessions were once or twice a year for new monitors, but the knowledge can be picked up relatively easily during the sessions themselves.  Data collected by the monitoring program was used to evaluate the health of the creek and to determine whether the County's stormwater runoff control program was working.  Much of the adverse impacts on local streams comes from stormwater runoff.


Powerpoint Presentation on FOCJC Monitoring Program, presented by Roy Seidenstein at the October 27, 2007 Montgomery County Watershed Conference.


Creek Health Monitoring Data

2011-2015 Watershed Health

2000-2006 Monitoring Site Map

2003-2006 Water Quality Data

2000-2003 Monitoring Data Tables


For details or to sign up, contact



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