Washington Guide Explains Watersheds

The newest publication in the Washington Department of Ecology's Environmental Education Guide series explains how the health of people is linked to the health of the watersheds where they live.

Watersheds are interconnected systems of land, water, air, and the life they support. Defined by natural boundaries that drain into a stream and its tributaries, the watershed is the logical unit for environmental management. Everyone lives in a watershed, and all have a stake in improving watershed health.

The 12-page guide, "Working for Washington's future: Healthy Watersheds, Healthy People," describes what watersheds do, explains how people are affecting them, and highlights watershed restoration projects around the state. The brochure serves as a guide for things each of us can do to improve our watershed environment.

"The good news is that little things matter: the actions you take affect your watershed, no matter how small. You can start improving the health of your watershed today by doing something as simple as turning off the water when you brush your teeth or replacing part of your lawn with beautiful native plants that use less water," said Evan Sheffels, special assistant for water policy.

The guide highlights some of the watershed projects around the state:

• A North Bend couple concerned about illegal dumping founded Friends of the Trail in 1996. Twelve years later, through the efforts of some 2,000 volunteers, the group has cleaned up more than 1,700 tons of trash – and that's not counting all the appliances, abandoned vehicles, and tires they've removed— much of it from the area's streams.

• Alpowa Creek, in southeastern Washington, is healthier thanks to the collaborative efforts of local landowners, the Pomeroy Conservation District, and Natural Resource Conservation Service. Before 2001, erosion, flooding, and high bacteria threatened the health of the creek. Today streamside habitat and water quality have been restored.

"Working for Washington's future: Healthy Watersheds, Healthy People" is available online at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/biblio/0801018.html.

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