Just how wholesome is the water in Piney Run Lake? No better than the streams that feed into it.
On Thursday a group of young people will accompany a naturalist, a naturalist-in-training and Piney Run's water quality specialist, Elseworth Acker, on a mission to determine the quality of the stream water spilling into the lake, soon to become a reservoir.
"This is an introduction for younger people to the water quality field," said naturalist Deanna Hoffman, who plans to assist the group. "We will primarily look at insects in and near the stream, because the wildlife tells a lot about the quality of the water.
"You can sometimes see a beautiful stream, with clear water, that has almost no life in it at all because of pollutants," she said.
The group will also test the pH and assess the dissolved oxygen content as well as nitrate and phosphate levels in the water.
"Tests I've already done on the stream indicate that it's very healthy," said Amy Hess, an intern at Piney Run Park since May 14. "There's a lot of farmland around the stream, but there are also a lot of trees, with a thick layer of topsoil from their leaves that filter out pollutants.
"This is a good situation -- ideally, all streams would have a forest around them to filter their water."
Ms. Hess, a junior at Western Maryland College, has noted mayflies, catisfly larvae, riffle beetles, crane fly larvae and salamanders on her previous trips to the stream.
"Mayflies and catisfly larvae are very intolerant of pollution," she said. "Just finding those is enough to prove the health of the stream."
The other tests are valuable indicators of the potential for other types of wildlife, such as fish.
"Trout like lots of oxygen," Ms. Hoffman said. "They can't survive where the dissolved oxygen levels are too low. Nitrates and phosphates feed certain types of algae, which can bloom profusely on the lake. When they die, bacteria which break down the algae consume tremendous amounts of oxygen from the water, which makes the water unhealthy for fish."
Want to join the crew and find out for yourself how to test the health of a stream? The program is open to anyone over the age of 13 and costs $1 for members, $2 for nonmembers.
Information: the Nature Center, 795-6043.
Steamed crabs, crab soup, fried chicken, barbecued county sausage, pit ham, baked beans, cole slaw, pepper slaw, pasta salad, pickled eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables and a whole table of cheese -- is your mouth watering?
Crabs, ham and other fare will be cooked to order. Beer and setups are included in the price. This feast will be available Aug. 14 in the newly renovated, smoke-free, completely air-conditioned Gamber Fire Hall on Route 32 in Gamber.
Tickets for the crab feast are $18 per person. Doors open at 5 p.m.
"We encourage family picnics and company picnics," said Ed Krezmer, fire company president. "We'll reserve tables for any large group. This is a fund-raiser for the fire company, and it's a great time for everybody. The food is wonderful."
The members of the fire company are testing the fare of suppliers to ensure the quality of the crabs they serve.
"Last year we were a little disappointed in the crabs," Mr. Krezmer said. "This year we're steaming them on the premises, so they'll be very fresh, and we're taste-testing the crabs to be sure they're nothing but the best for our patrons."
Steel Rose will play from 8 p.m. to midnight, dancing encouraged.
For tickets call or visit Carolyn Orchards in Gamber and speak with Eva Brothers, 795-4228.
"New! A new creation, living in God's creation," sang 81 children and their teachers at the parent presentation of the Vacation Bible School at Messiah Lutheran Church on Friday.
The children had been taught the song by a music teacher on vacation from her regular school year who enjoys the program enough to return year after year.
"Margaret Ann Hoff is our organist and choir director," said Cheryl Miller, who has organized Messiah's Vacation Bible School for three years. "When I first asked her to teach at our program she was a little dubious, but she really enjoys it.
"It takes a day or two for the children to learn to sing out, but by the end of the week they're really belting out the music."