Bob loves to unwind from work with walks and quiet times along a reach of Salmon Creek near where he lives. One late afternoon during the spring of 2007 Bob walked with his young son and daughter. They pass pretty ponds in people’s backyards. His bright daughter wonders aloud why so little water flows in the Creek here. Bob explains to her why the owner likes to have a pond, much as they like to walk along the stream.
Then, he explains to his children how salmon used to migrate up this river and the little creeks, spawning in the gravels. Now, the three people look for gravel but notice mostly mud. His son points out a culvert through which the stream water flows and he asks his dad how can the fish jump high into the culvert and swim upstream. Bob isn’t sure of the answer to this question. His daughter asks why people don’t seem to care about the fish. “Is it because there aren’t any anymore?” Bob responds, “No, people like the stream and the fish; they just don’t remember that fish need a place to live – cool water, and spawning gravels, as well as food, much like all other animals.”
Bob and his children return home and he takes a new look at his own yard and how that might effect the creek and the fish. He begins to feel troubled and somewhat responsible. Furthermore, he wonders how widespread the conditions are that they just saw.
That evening, Bob and the children share their day with Charlene, Bob’s wife and mother of this family. She adds this insight, “People are not bad; they just want what they want. Some people want this lifestyle of a little pond and don’t realize the consequences. Some people need the stream to make a living. Some like the stream just like the children do and they want their own pond too.”
With so many people having the right to make individual decisions, can the stream ever be changed? Bob wonders if one person can make a difference. Then, Bob learns of a group of local business and professional people who live in Salmon Creek. These people formed a citizen council to “engage and encourage people to provide good stewardship to the creek that flows through their backyards.” The group calls themselves the Salmon Creek Watershed Council (SCWC). They are looking for volunteers to implement stewardship projects. Bob goes to his first meeting.
Imagine five years later in the year 2012: SCWC actively pursued engagement of people to be good stewards of their own watershed. Bob and his family see that people became aware of conditions and their own roles and responsibilities. Stream flows increased and are cooler, creating a much improved fish habitat. Barriers to fish passage were removed and fish are seen upriver, where they have not been spotted for decades. People who live in the watershed actively take care of their Creek by working together to obtain technical help and financial help through private grants and public programs. People do not all do the same thing. But they work together. Some people actively run the Council; others volunteer regularly for projects. Still others volunteer only once or twice for projects they feel directly affects them or their land. Others contribute money, some even though they do not live in the watershed. People make the difference.