Creek Report Cards
In spring of 2012, the Bullitt Foundation (bullitt.org) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (alaska.fws.gov/) funded a project called “Creek Report Card”. This was modeled after the “Park Report Card” developed by the Anchorage Park Foundation (anchorageparkfoundation.org).
The significance of the project is broad. AWC’s mission is to improve and sustain the freshwater resources of the Municipality of Anchorage and, in some cases, beyond the immediate area into the Cook Inlet watershed. With over 25 individual watersheds to oversee in 2,000 square miles, this is a daunting job. Fortunately not all watersheds and creeks are impaired or in danger of impairment—the main problems are those dozen or so within the urbanized area of the Municipality. These waterways cover about 250 stream miles.
Anchorage’s waterways are of great importance because they are a source of drinking water, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, nature, and tourism. If they become further degraded, then humans, fish and wildlife, and our urban economy are jeopardized. It is AWC’s belief that one of the most successful means of conserving and improving the Municipality’s watersheds and fresh water resources is through education, public involvement, and stewardship.
It has been said that our creeks are being “loved to death”. In a way, this is great because it means they are being well used. But the results of excessive use in some areas can be detrimental through stream bank erosion, littering, and other negative actions. AWC has programs that get water quality volunteers out to their creek site on a regular basis (12-16 times annually) and another that has connected groups and students to stream reaches by the Adopt-A-Creek and Creeks as Classrooms programs. Creek Cleanup occurs annually as well, and this can involve around 1,000 people on a single Saturday in May. These programs and events help, but they do not nearly cover the need to have more “eyes on the creeks” and at strategic locations nor do they necessarily result in creek advocacy.
The Anchorage Creeks’ Report Cards program not only significantly increased the number of waterway locations that are overseen, but during this process those participating became more involved with “their” creek area which then often culminates in greater stewardship and data. The Anchorage Parks Foundation, which this program is modeled after, reports that citizens who have graded their parks are closely tied to them, watch over activities, and are often an early warning system for actions that can be deemed destructive.
Finally, the data that are received, compiled, analyzed, and turned into reports will provide AWC with greater substantiation for policy and action suggestions and changes. The creek report card program combined with other AWC programs, will have both the scientific as well as citizen-generated data to back-up concerns and work toward change with the help of AWC’s partners.
While the initial goal was to cover 25 creek miles, the project became so popular that over 175 creek miles were surveyed by 70 hardy volunteers during summer 2012. This was an overwhelming success, and the information has just recently been compiled. Watersheds that fall within the various Community Councils received reports for their constituents in May 2013 that are available on this website along with the survey.
Please check back as more information is added.
Report card links: