Watershed Day raises awareness of overlooked ecosystem

Watershed Day raises awareness of overlooked ecosystem

Watershed Day raises awareness of overlooked ecosystem
Lisa Damerel, left, from the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District, gathers with visitors around the watershed model as part of Watershed Day at the Ygnacio Valley Library on March 2. (David Scholz photos)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Mar. 14, 2024) — The land that “sheds” water defines the concept of a watershed, and Friends of Concord Creek marked Watershed Day 2024 by presenting a variety of activities for young and old alike to both raise awareness and instill knowledge.

Inspiring community members to help conserve and restore the natural places in Concord further underscored the March 2 event at the Ygnacio Valley Library.

“A lot of people I talk to are unfamiliar with the concept of a watershed. It’s not only a system of waterways; it also includes all the land that ‘sheds’ water into those waterways,” said Fareed Nabkel, chair of the Concord group.
Another takeaway Nabkel hoped for the day was the understanding that creeks are a place for native animals and plants to thrive, representing more reasons to work with nature to care for creeks.

“One of our goals for Saturday’s event is to build awareness of the natural world that’s around us all the time – not just when we’re visiting a park,” he added.

‘Better than books’

Photo by David Scholz.

It hit the mark for Kevin Reimers and his daughters, Olivia and Madeline, who happened to use the rainy Saturday afternoon to visit their nearby library branch and discovered the Watershed Day activities going on in a side room.

The timing was serendipitous for the insights his girls gained. Reimers lauded the tactile experiences of the various stations.

“It’s better than books,” he said of the benefits his children derived from the activities. “It has to be hands-on if you are going to reach kids.”

Volunteers at various tables offered activities for different audiences who came in for a peek. For the very young, there were coloring activities and an A-frame Create a Creek activity. An ArcGIS map viewer enabled residents to input their address and see a large-screen projection of where they live in relation to the area creeks and the watersheds that feed them.

A model town exhibit captured the interest of 10-year-old Concord resident Clara Gaines, who took in the special event with mother, Emily. The display provided pathways for the kids to pour and spray water, and then observe how it flows amid different parts of the exhibit.

“It’s cool,” said Clara. ”I like to pour the water in random areas and see where it goes.”

‘Involving children as well as adults’

Photo by David Scholz.

Nabkel believes involving children as well as adults as essential in the education process.

“The Walnut Creek Watershed Restoration Plan will affect stewardship for the next 20-30 years. So, the children learning about nature today will be able to participate in the planned projects as adults,” he said.

“Also, it’s just natural for parents and children to enjoy and appreciate nature together. By helping parents teach about nature, we hope to inspire the next generation of creek stewards who will carry us into the future,” Nabkel added.

The Friends of Concord Creek is working with the Walnut Creek Watershed Council to develop a restoration plan for the Walnut Creek watershed, which includes a large portion of Concord. Residents have an opportunity right now to plan projects that will improve the health of local creeks.

“Community input is a key step in the planning process,” he said.

David Scholz
David Scholz

David Scholz is back in journalism as a freelance writer and photographer after nearly two decades in education. Prior to moving into teaching in 2000, he worked as a full-time journalist since 1988 for rural community and small daily newspapers in Central Ohio and Northern Nevada, and later in California with The Business Journal in Fresno and dailies in the Bay Area, including The Oakland Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle. More recently Scholz also worked in an editing, writing, and page layout role with the Rossmoor News.