Explore and Restore Maryland Streams

Find a Stream

A primary goal of this program is to engage students in studying a local stream and how their schoolyard and/or community affect the stream, therefore it is recommended that the stream study site be as close to school as possible.  Finding and using a stream on school property or within safe walking distance of school may eliminate the need for costly transportation. Regardless of where the stream is, it is always necessary to visit the stream in advance and check it out for safety, ease of and/or permission to access, and to determine logistics of working with a class of students. If a suitable stream is not available within close proximity to school, another site must be found. Some links to help you find an appropriate site:

Get permission:

Two types of permission for activities at your chosen stream are required: that of the landowner, and an official natural resources permit.

  1. Landowner Permission: The land surrounding the stream belongs to someone and you will need to acquire any needed permission to use the property. Public property, such as on school ground or within a park, is usually not a problem, but notifying the property management is still a good idea.

    Determining property ownership:

    Merlin Online is an easy tool for determining property ownership. Directions are on the site. On the main page, choose the “interactive map” tab or click on the link for the “alternate version of MERLIN Online” and be sure to have the “Parcel Boundaries” layer turned on (check the box).

    • If the site is on school grounds, go through your school administration for permission.
    • If the site is on public land, here are a few possible resources for assistance, or contact the agency that manages it. If you are having difficulty finding a suitable stream site, contacting a park nearby may offer a good solution and a potential helper for arranging logistics.
    • If the site is privately owned, try contacting the property owner directly or ask your local government for assistance, or choose another access point that may not require crossing private property.

  2. Stream Permit Application: If you intend to do a biological collection To assure that there won’t be any conflicts with natural resources such as fish spawning or use of land and water protected for endangered species, it is necessary to submit your stream study site to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources with an educational collecting permit​. Having this signed document readily available can help avoid any potential questions by enforcement officials or well-meaning citizens you may encounter during the field study. Click here to complete and submit the Stream Permit Application online.

    Most schools’ sites are approved quickly and easily however if your site is not approved we will help you find another site nearby.

    What you need for application:

    • Your name, contact info, school name, county, etc…,
    • Stream name (given on maps)
    • Nearest road crossing
    • GPS coordinates – Find on Google maps by clicking on your stream station:
      Latitude      32.19876  (all in MD should begin with a 3)
      Longitude  -74.45678   (all in MD should begin with a -7) – ok to enter it without the negative sign
    • Study Site Name – You will use this for both the application and to identify the site when uploading data and observations in FieldScope. The site name should be made up of 3 parts to help us locate your info:

      1. ERMS
      2. School Name (required)
      3. School Site Name (optional, can be a number or letters)

      Example:  ERMS HampsteadHS APEnviTeam   [FieldScope site names may be limited to 15 characters – e.g., ES vs. Elementary School; JeffersonIB vs. Doctor Jonathan Adams Jefferson International Baccalaureate Program]