The Natural Resources Department conducts environmental education and outreach programs on behalf of our members in conjunction with the help of numerous partners and organizations. Throughout the year, you will find Natural Resources Department staff conducting workshops, open houses, presentations, and at local events with exhibits, displays, and hands-on-activities.
Natural Resources staff discuss the importance of and need for clean water, types and causes of water pollution, stream restoration, stormwater management, watershed health, and other topics. We discuss how pollution is generated and the problems it causes to natural areas like creeks, rivers, lakes and wetlands. Then we help people understand fundamental concepts including the local connection of storm drains to creeks (“what goes into the storm drain goes into the creek”), to regional connections of local creeks to the Rogue River and eventually the Pacific Ocean. And finally, we discuss actions that people can take at home to help protect streams and wetlands and reduce pollution including conserving water, using fewer chemicals (herbicides and pesticides) or non toxic alternatives, cleaning up after pets, planting trees, and using phosphate free soaps or taking cars to a car wash. We also describe what communities are doing to clean up local streams and protect our watersheds.
The program was coordinated by the Rogue Valley Council of Governments and Oregon State University Extension.Other partners on the project included the Bear Creek Watershed Education Partners, the Rogue River Watershed Council (RRWC), Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District, Coyote Trails Nature Center, the Rogue Basin Partnership (RBP), Rogue Valley Sewer Services, Central Point, Medford, Phoenix, Talent, Ashland, and Jackson County.
Funding provided by the Carpenter Foundation was used to re-establish the Salmon Watch Program in the Rogue Valley in the Spring of 2014 with in-kind support provided by the Stormwater and TMDL programs and local partners.Additional funding for the program was provided though Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District's grant programs. The program provides opportunities for students from schools in Ashland, Talent, Medford, Central Point, and Medford to learn about salmon and water quality in the Rogue Basin. The Salmon Watch program provides a field based hands on learning program connecting kids to the creeks through a series of lessons focused on Salmon Biology and Salmon Life Cycles, Water Quality, Aquatic Macroinvertebrates, and Riparian Ecosystems.
Below is a link to a Salmon Watch video produced by volunteer videographer, Ralph Bowman.
Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online. http://www.geocaching.com/default.aspx
Stream Smart is an outreach campaign designed to raise awareness of water quality issues in the Bear Creek Watershed and to promote behavior change among individuals and business. The intent of this effort is to create a unifying and recognizable brand and message for outreach material that the citizens of the Bear Creek valley connect with – one that can be used across city and agency jurisdiction to enhance outreach efforts. By combining our efforts and supporting other partners work we can be more effective and fiscally efficient in meeting outreach and education goals. Project partners include the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, the Bear Creek Watershed Council, Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District, North Mountain Park, the Bear Creek Watershed Education Partners, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and O.S.U.
Go Blue! will be the inaugural campaign under the Stream Smart program. The campaign will focus on what the community can do to improve water quality conditions and help turn Bear Creek into a community resource. Stay tuned for more information!
For more information on the Stream Smart Program or Go Blue! contact:
Greg Stabach, Natural Resources Program Coordinator RVCOG, (541) 423-1370
Sarah Sauter, Program Manager, Rogue River Watershed Council, (541) 664-1070 ext. 430
Heather Tugaw, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, (541) 776-6091
Salmon Activity: The "Smell Your Way Home Activity" demonstrates how salmon use their sense of smell to find their way back from the ocean to their spawning grounds. Participants get to be salmon and try to find their way back to their home stream by matching different scents to rivers and streams on a map. As a link to water quality programs, RVCOG staff discuss how pollutants (e.g., motor oil and antifreeze) entering the waterways can disrupt the ability of salmon to smell. Without being able to smell, the salmon may be unable to find their way home to spawn. In addition, the importance of healthy riparian corridors and water quality conditions for salmon are discussed along with solutions on how people can help reduce pollution and keep watersheds healthy.
The following list includes a number of Internet resources containing a wide variety of information, from slide shows to checklists. A brief description of each site’s content is included with the web address. Information excerpted from DLCD's Water Quality Model Code and Guidebook.
The Oregon Association of Clean Water Agencies, ACWA, is an organization of local
This site includes a useful manual on the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Chapter 7 of the manual includes a checklist to diagnose stormwater issues. This checklist can be a valuable tool for determining possible zoning code and/or comprehensive plan changes to address the ESA and water quality.
Another valuable resource found at this site is a Municipal Stormwater Toolbox for Maintenance Practices found at www.oracwa.org/Pages/toolbox.htm. The toolbox provides quick and easy guidance for maintenance staff about ways to integrate water quality friendly practices into routine everyday maintenance practices.
The goal of the Oregon Plan is to restore populations and fisheries to productive and sustainable levels that will provide substantial environmental, cultural, and economic benefits. The site includes information on salmon restoration efforts and watershed health.
Includes information on education, EPA programs, outreach and funding opportunities. Also includes links to other EPA web sites such as the NPDES Stormwater Phase I and II Program and the Drinking Water Protection Program.
Latest information on endangered species listings, including 4(d) rules and A Citizen’s Guide to the 4(d) Rule For Threatened Salmon and Steelhead on the West Coast, an excellent primer on the 4(d) rule.
Watershed Professionals Network is an association of natural resource consultants in the Pacific Northwest. The web site includes a copy Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board’s Oregon Watershed Assessment Manual (1999).
NEMO is a University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System project using innovative techniques to teach local officials about the sources and impacts of nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, how different land uses affect water quality, and what towns can do to protect water quality. A slideshow explaining the land use and water quality connection is available for download for free at the site.
Established in 1990 as a not-for-profit, nonadvocacy organization, the Terrene Institute works with business, government, academia and citizens to protect our environment and conserve our natural resources. Education and public outreach comprise the cornerstones of the Terrene Institute, which assembles the best minds and expertise to provide accurate information – and presents this information in attractive, understandable, usable formats.
Terrene has established a reputation for offering balanced, credible information in ways that inspire learning, the hallmark of excellence in communication. This site provides a nonpoint source projects database, and extensive links to other water quality sites.
Center for Urban Water Resources Management at the University of Washington
The Center for Urban Water Resources Management is an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Washington, whose mission is to develop new and more effective ways for managing the consequences of land development on the Pacific Northwest's water resources through applied research.
Founded in 1992, the Center for Watershed Protection works with local, state, and federal governmental agencies, environmental consulting firms, watershed organizations, and the general public to provide objective and scientifically sound information on effective techniques to protect and restore urban watersheds. This site includes a zoning code worksheet to rate local development code for water quality provisions.
government agencies working to maintain and enhance the quality of lakes, rivers and streams in Oregon. They manage treatment of human and industrial wastes and the runoff of polluting waters.