Dr. Carl S. Weber was one of the founding MWMC Board members, representing the academic community. Through this award, we celebrate Carl’s life and work by acknowledging others who share his generous spirit, his commitment to Maryland’s waters, his vision for collaboration, and his leadership in advancing monitoring and assessment. Beginning in 2007, the Award has been presented annually to an individual involved in water monitoring in Maryland who exhibits the spirit, vision and leadership so exemplified by Carl.
Carl, a founding member of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) Biological Sciences Department, taught there for nearly 40 years. Although his training was in biochemistry, Carl developed an interest in stream ecology in the 1980s and became a self-taught aquatic biologist, eventually creating and teaching courses in stream and river ecology. Carl used Herbert Run--a Patapsco River tributary that flows through UMBC--as a living classroom for his students that spurred research and restoration activities on the stream. In 2002, Carl won the UMBC 2002 Alumni Association Award for Mentoring. Many of the students Carl taught and mentored have gone on to internships and careers in the environmental protection field. Carl was instrumental in bringing the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research Network to UMBC through the Baltimore Ecosystem Study. He also served as the first chair of the Patapsco Tributary Team.
Carl’s entry into the monitoring world began when he got involved with the Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park in his home watershed. In 1989, he began leading a unique and innovative new project for Maryland Save Our Streams and Baltimore County, becoming involved in every aspect of the program. “Project Heartbeat” was the first program in the United States to train volunteers to collect and analyze benthic macroinvertebrates and to assess physical habitat using EPA’s 1989 Rapid Bioassessment Protocol. Over a 10 year period, thousands of volunteers were trained to collect benthic samples and identify them to the taxonomic family level in a controlled lab setting. Through Carl, UMBC provided lab space and equipment and Carl taught and supervised volunteers to identify 200-300 samples a year. Carl chaired both the community steering committee and the technical advisory committee, building a bridge among volunteers, watershed organizations, academia, the County, the State, EPA, and other stakeholders. Carl performed all the lab quality control and data analysis and co-authored Project Heartbeat’s Quality Assurance Project Plan, the first of its kind for a volunteer biological monitoring program. Project Heartbeat had a profound impact on volunteer water monitoring, environmental education, and watershed collaboration, not only in Maryland, but across the country. Because of this program, Baltimore County has a quality baseline data set on the health of its streams spanning more than 10 years. Project Heartbeat maintained a high level of scientific credibility and the program contributed to advances made in stream assessment and analysis methods within the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of Environment. The road to DNR’s “Stream Waders” program was paved, in part, by Project Heartbeat’s success. No one person is more responsible for any of these accomplishments than Carl Weber.
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