AWRI Information Services Center

Bear Creek Stewardship Plan - Proposed Implementation Activities

A. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Three highly related and interwoven programs are proposed as the means to reach the goals and achieve the desired uses of land described in Section III. The first of these programs is a targeted Public Education and Participation Program; the second, a Public Policy Program; and the third, a BMP Program designed to provide assistance in the design, installation and maintenance of site-specific BMPs, particularly those within the critical area.

The Public Education and Participation Program

The Public Education and Participation Program is an important component of the project. The experiences of the planning year support the observation that, in general, citizens of the watershed are not well-informed about water quality issues. On the other hand, interest in water quality is high and many citizens are motivated to action when they receive appropriate information. The activities proposed for implementation under this grant will build on efforts begun in the planning year, but will move toward providing information designed for and delivered to targeted audiences as well as to the general population. These targeted audiences include streambank and lakeside residents, fourth and fifth grade students in public and private schools, farmers, residential and commercial developers and public officials.

a. Newsletter production and distribution

The Bear Creek Indicator and The Creeky Chronicle have each been published and distributed four times during the planning year of the project to all households in the watershed. Each issue of the Indicator has been 4 to 12 pages in length; the Creeky Chronicle has been 2 pages. In addition to the distribution to households, the Chronicle has been distributed to 300 elementary school children at Lakes and Cannonsburg Schools in their classrooms. Appendix E contains copies of the Indicator and Creeky Chronicle.

The Indicator is directed toward the general population with an emphasis on environmental, particularly water-related, education. Members of the BCWP Steering Committee have contributed articles on a regular basis on such topics as riparian concerns, stormwater runoff, erosion, and the water cycle. The newsletter is also used to inform the community about planned meetings, environmental events, grants-in-progress, Steering Committee activities, and any other news of interest.

The Creeky Chronicle is focused on the education of children at a middle to late elementary school level. It includes one feature story each issue about a water-related topic (such as glaciers, indicator species, the importance of trees) and poems, drawings, puzzles and other information of interest to the targeted age level. Despite the fact that The Creeky Chronicle is primarily written for young children, watershed residents of all ages report reading and enjoying each issue.

The continued publication of both The Bear Creek Indicator and The Creeky Chronicle on the same schedule for the life of the project is proposed.

These newsletters are the backbone of the pubic education campaign.

b. Watershed Hydrologic Environmental Education Laboratory (WHEEL)

Project WHEEL (Watershed Hydrologic Environmental Education Laboratory) is conceptualized as a mobile water resources education classroom. This classroom will be created in a van. The van will be equipped with materials and supplies to provide hands-on environmental education experiences for school age children - again, with a primary emphasis on water quality topics.

Funding will be sought to secure the van, its materials and supplies (for example, books, stream monitoring equipment, a portable weather station, computer hardware and software, maps, and instruments for hydrologic investigation), and a part-time driver/volunteer coordinator/ naturalist.

Project WHEEL will be available to all residents of the Bear Creek Watershed, but its efforts will be addressed particularly to fourth and fifth grade students in public and private schools and their teachers.

c. Hydrologic Education Line for Partners (HELP)

Project HELP (Hydrologic Education Line for Partners) is a program feature designed to take advantage of emerging telecommunications technology for conveying specific information tailored to individual needs. The HELP line will feature an extensive data base of water quality issues, concerns, community resources available by telephone tapes to watershed residents and interested others. A "branching menu-driven" format will be employed, allowing the caller to utilize a touch tone telephone to secure information by responding to a series of instructions (eg., "If you would like information on soil testing, press 8; if you would like information on water testing, press 9; if you would like information on trout habitat, press 3").

The information will be available on brief (3 minutes or less) tapes. At the end of each topical tape, the name of other agencies or individuals who can provide more complete information will be provided to the caller.

The program is envisioned as providing information on reporting emergency water quality problems (oil spills, road damage, flooding), septic systems, scheduled meetings relating to the Bear Creek Project, Adopt-A-Stream information, information on conservation trusts and easements, general information on the Bear Creek Project, and telephone numbers and addresses of local officials, organizations and agencies to call for more information. Information will also be put on the HELP Line about who to contact in specific situations, for example, if a landowner wants to divert the stream, change wetland areas, build a bridge or otherwise impact some part of the watershed critical area.

HELP will be widely publicized in The Indicator as well as by posters and in public speaking engagements.

d. The Bear Creek Players

The Bear Creek Players will be a troupe of citizen volunteers under the direction of a paid director who will provide water quality education in an interactive "skit" format to community groups in and around the Bear Creek Watershed.

The skits will revolve around water quality issues and, in general, they will be created to stimulate audience discussion and involvement, rather than for pure entertainment. Proposed audiences for the BC Players include schools, churches, developer's organizations, 4H clubs, Scout troops, garden clubs, and community forums. Topics will generally incorporate the themes of responsible stewardship and environmental choices. For example, skits might include an enactment of the different points of view of a farmer and a builder about the use of a piece of lakeside property; or, a dramatization of the differing points of view around the need for and uses of environmental ordinances and laws.

The BC Player director will be an experienced discussion leader capable of involving each audience in the performance. The director will also train performers, oversee script production, conduct rehearsals, publicize the Players, schedule performances, and participate in the evaluation of the Program accomplishments.

e. Presentations and Meetings

The Project Manager has presented at a variety of educational meetings during the first program year. These include presentations to citizens groups, to school children, to governmental officials, and to professional audiences. It is anticipated that these presentations will continue and, in fact, increase over the implementation period.

Other members of the Steering Committee and Citizens Committee are involved in presentations and meetings as well in pursuit of Project goals. These are expected to continue and increase as well.

f. Bear Creek Citizens Committee

The Bear Creek Citizens Committee was formed during the Project's first year as a grass-roots organization of residents focused on watershed needs. The Citizens Committee will continue to function over the life of the Project and beyond.

In the next 3 years, the Citizens Committee will be involved in creating and distributing specific literature targeted to identified groups within the watershed - for example, streambank residents. They will also be intimately involved in the formation and promotion of riparian clubs.

It is anticipated that the Citizens Committee will also take the lead in organizing and sponsoring an annual Water Quality Awareness/"Earth Day" in the watershed each spring. At such a community-wide event, considerable environmental education will be possible in an informal, neighbor-to-neighbor approach.

The Citizens Committee will utilize its funds for the creation, publication, or purchase of pamphlets, and for the materials and supplies necessary to design and publicize Water Quality Awareness activities.

g. Bear Creek Watershed Video Production(s)

In the first Project year, raw footage for a 20- to 30-minute videotape production was shot of the Bear Creek Watershed by a professional photographer. In the next three years additional footage will be secured and all of the film will be edited into a finished product or into several finished products, duplicated, and distributed.

It is expected that the videos produced will be suitable for public access television, the local Health Channel (which airs films with environmental themes), and to public groups, including school children, civic groups, church groups, Scout troops, 4-H clubs, and so on.

Costs associated with the Video Production in the implementation phase include cost for materials, for additional footage, editing, duplication, promotion, and distribution.

h. Riparian Clubs

Riparian Clubs are envisioned as groups of residents who live generally in the critical area along the streambank or around the edges of lakes. These individuals and families often have many environmental concerns in common with their immediate neighbors, for example, a shared concern with streambank erosion, fish health, sedimentation or bacterial contamination.

Although these areas are rural in nature, it is believed that the common riparian concerns of adjacent landowners will be strong enough to provide a foundation for the formation of "clubs." These would be similar in concept to "block clubs" in urban settings, except that the "blocks" would generally be linear on either side of a stream corridor or around a lake.

Riparian Clubs will serve many of the same functions as urban Block Clubs, including shared responsibility for problem-solving around common problems, watchfulness for neighbor's property, and as a forum from which to address elected officials, agencies, and organizations. Funds secured for this program will be used to publicize and organize Riparian Clubs, to secure materials for membership training and empowerment, and to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach.

i. The 4-H Program

The 4-H Program is seen as an opportunity to involve urban youth, including inner-city minority young people, with an environmental project which has a strong rural character. In addition, watershed residents will gain exposure to urban youth and have opportunities to work cooperatively with them in watershed improvement projects.

The funds secured for this purpose will be used to recruit, train, and employ 6 youth, 2 crew leaders, and a supervisor to install and maintain BMP structures, principally on agricultural sites. The program will be carried out during the summer, providing summer employment for urban young persons. Mileage and program administration costs are also provided for.

j. Water Resources Institute (GVSU) Program

This is a combination education-evaluation approach which has five public education and participation components and four evaluative components. The educational components are modeling of land use changes through the year 2020; creating BMP-based evaluation through digital elevation modeling; developing ground water protection strategies; developing septic system maintenance programs; and identifying greenspace, wildlife and wetland areas.

Also included are the creation of two automated and six semi-permanent monitoring sites at Townsend Park and the mouth of Bear Creek; modeling coliform movement; and studying toxic metal contamination and movement.

k. Consumers Power Program

This would be a partnership between Consumer's Power and agricultural landowners in the watershed. The utility would recognize and provide support for use of conservation practices on these agricultural lands.

l. The Environmental Umbrella

The Environmental Umbrella is envisioned as an organizational structure which would provide 501-c-3 status to its participant organizations. The Umbrella would be comprised of all environmental groups in the watershed. The Umbrella would be utilized to seek foundation funds and to promote coordination of efforts among participating organizations.

Page last modified March 13, 2014