Creek Week 2021 is an opportunity for volunteers to not only participate in valuable community service, but also to engage in fellowship with a group of like-minded participants. And there is also the benefit of creating a cleaner stream environment.
From September 25 to October 3, everyone is invited to make an impact by working to clean up a specific area of ââtheir choice during the 8th Annual Creek Week Cleanup. This includes parks, trails, waterways, and open spaces in El Paso, Teller, and Pueblo counties. Volunteers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to donate as much time as they wish, from an hour to a day or more.
Alli Schuch, Outreach Coordinator for Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District, saw the need in 2014 to take a very proactive approach to waste management in and near watersheds. . She sees Creek Week as a “gateway to [a volunteer] become a watershed warrior! The work of the Watershed District protects the community by controlling flooding, maintaining potable water, and being involved in the management of recreation and open spaces.
The first year of Creek Week took place in 2014, 650 volunteers participated. This year should be a banner year. By the first full week of September, 3,000 volunteers had already signed up to clean up over 60 sites during this year’s nine-day program.
Volunteers can either form their own group or join a designated group. Sites are located on land and in water, and participants are encouraged to identify new sites as well – for example, their own neighborhood or a previously unidentified site that could use some TLC.
âMy job is to create a community connection for people to reflect on the impact of their daily actions on our parks and recreation areas,â said Schuch.
Eight communities are actively participating in the event: the towns of Colorado Springs, Green Mountain Falls, Fountain, Manitou Springs, Monument, Palmer Lake, Pueblo and Woodland Park.
The district spans 927 square miles from Palmer Lake to Pueblo. Fountain Creek is the second most studied and most irregular watershed in the United States. Erosive soils, population explosion, and poor stormwater management all contribute to Fountain Creek needing help repairing and preventing further damage.
Creek Week is the largest cleanup in the state of Colorado. Schuch emphasizes that this is a safe outdoor activity that benefits our community immensely. She rejoices in the overwhelming enthusiasm of people who want to go out and do something right.
Bags, gloves and educational materials are provided to volunteers. Other welcome supplies include tongs, buckets, and whatever volunteers bring to help with the cleanup.
Litter can be managed with minor and major efforts. Small changes in behavior, such as collecting dog droppings, using irrigation systems wisely, and planting seeds can benefit watershed health.
âGarbage and debris are common in our waterways – clogging drainage systems, affecting wildlife, affecting water quality and spoiling the view of our natural landscapes. Take action to improve the health of our watershed and all communities within its boundaries as well as those downstream, âSchuch said in a press release.
The most important issues include intentional litter, poorly managed litter, limited availability of bins, lack of large-scale litter campaigns and lack of education.
Children today are not learning the huge difference they can make now and in the future to keep watersheds clean and healthy, Schuch says.
âCreek Week is a great way for Colorado Springs residents to give back to their community,â said volunteer Lisa Weidenbach. She notes that for Creek Week, many companies formed teams to build team cohesion and give back in a unique way. In 2020, his enterprising team dug a shopping cart in a stream and put it to good use to haul bags of trash to the collection site.
Schuch laughs about items found in the last few years of cleaning up, like a Nixon mask, an unopened half-crate of beer, cash, a locked safe (which was turned over to the forces of the ‘order) and purported human leg bones that turned out to be from a dead deer. Cigarette butts were plentiful, but they are nightmares everywhere, she said.
Schuch suspects that this year used masks will be a big deal.
Bill Banks, executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed District, is exploring funding sources such as a possible tax on voting mills in a future election. He says there is no stable source of funding for the district and that up to $ 200 million in repairs are pending.
Illustrating the enthusiasm of the Watershed District staff, Schuch concludes that: âThe value of healthy parks, trails and waterways is immeasurable. The recreational, cultural, wildlife and economic values ââthat water provides us deserve our attention and our preservation. Creek Week is an easy way to give back … with thousands of your friends and neighbors!
For more information and to register for Creek Week 2021, visit Fountain-crk.com/register.