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February 28, 2014

Preserve Your Watershed’s Environmental Health with a Spring Check-Up

Punxsutawney Phil and his handler, in 2011; photo via NBC.

The groundhog may have seen his shadow this year, but spring is still on its way. Those of us in colder climates are anxiously awaiting our chances to fish, boat, and generally enjoy the beautiful environment of our creeks and rivers. As we look forward to enjoying our creeks and rivers, we should also be planning on protecting their environmental health for the coming warm seasons. Late winter is a perfect time to complete a few important projects along your favorite creek.

If you’ve taken a walk along the banks of your favorite creek lately, you’ve probably noticed that its water levels are far below their summer flows. Icy and snowy conditions upstream can slow creeks to a trickle, exposing piles of trash that are underwater for much of the rest of the year. You might need to stock up on hot chocolate for your cleanup crew, but this is a perfect time to clean up otherwise inaccessible garbage. You should also pay attention to cleaning up the banks; when the spring thaw raises your creek’s water levels, trash can get washed in from relatively high areas.

Baby Birds Are Doing Well

Photo by Tony Alter.

Humans aren’t the only ones thinking ahead this time of year. Some species of birds, like woodpeckers and mourning doves, begin building their nests as early as February in some areas! In urban and suburban areas, creeks often provide a vital green area where birds and other wildlife have a chance to raise their young in peace. Find out about the species in your area whose nesting areas tend to face threats from pollution, human activity, and predation from invasive species. This is a good time of year to start planning and fundraising for nesting boxes, fenced-off nesting areas, and other means of making sure your local creekside is a good place to settle down and raise a family.

While you’re working on cleaning up your creek, your neighbors are probably turning an eye to their garages and tool sheds. Spring cleaning is a time to clear the house of all the refuse that accumulated over the winter–and for many households, that includes hazardous chemicals. Without access to inexpensive, convenient disposal for toxic waste, many people find themselves disposing of everything from old paint to old solvent in a way that puts your watershed in danger. Now is the time to start planning on helping your community dispose of its hazardous waste conveniently, cheaply, and safely. Renting a truck and taking your neighborhood’s toxic waste to the appropriate dump is a great project to crowdfund using Creeklife!

Photo by photolight (deviantART).

For many people in cold climates, this time of year is when cabin fever hits us the hardest. Fortunately, it’s also a time when we have a chance to do some very important work preserving the environmental health of our creeks and rivers. From taking a chance to clean up exposed trash to getting your community committed to proper waste disposal, the stewardship opportunities we see in late winter and early spring can help keep our creeks healthy all year round.

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Posted by Mark Contorno.

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