August 31, 2018 | By: Carol Lea Spence

LEXINGTON, Ky., — While backyard streams can contribute to a scenic, domestic retreat, they can also cause homeowners to have questions and even some concerns, such as flooding, erosion and trash deposits from upstream. Backyard Streams, a new program and online course from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, will help homeowners with backyard streams appreciate the resource, protect personal property and improve water quality and habitat.

“As a society, all of our actions are reflected in our waterways. Each of us can make a difference, and starting in our own backyards makes it easier and more personal,” said Amanda Gumbert, UK extension water quality specialist and co-director of the program. “We can take pride in learning more about how streams work and the little things we can do to make a big difference.”

 Backyard Streams provides a central location for dozens of extension publications and webinars concerning stream health and physiology, all of which are available for casual browsing or as a research source for common questions about streams and watersheds. In addition, for those who are interested in becoming a neighborhood leader in protecting the watershed, the program provides an online course of 12 modules, completion of which results in becoming a certified backyard stream steward.

“My hope is that this program will result in increased knowledge and awareness, and that through a common interest, more people will become active in their neighborhoods,” said Carmen Agouridis, program co-director and UK extension associate professor of biosystems engineering in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

A tiger swallowtail butterfly feeds along a stream bank. After completing the course, backyard stream stewards can help educate homeowners who may have questions about a number of issues, such as stormwater, stream bank erosion, methods to protect and restore stream ecosystems, permitting requirements and resources available.

“Streams are a shared resource,” Agouridis said. “The limestone which is the foundation of Central Kentucky is a porous, dissolvable layer of rock which allows water and chemicals to easily pass from the surface to the groundwater. Because of that, so much of what we do in our neighborhood watersheds affects our groundwater, which affects our streams and rivers.”

To browse information about streams and watersheds or to enroll in the online Backyard Streams course to become a neighborhood steward, visit After enrolling, an email from Instructure Canvas will allow you to set up a private password.


Carmen Agouridis, 859-218-4344; Amanda Gumbert, 859-257-6094