We focus on three areas: education, research, and on-the-ground restoration in the watershed.
Education & Outreach
Our goal is to educate the community about watershed ecology, and to develop a growing group of people who understand the strengths, needs, and problems affecting the Plaster Creek Watershed. We seek to equip people to take action to restore their watershed. Ways we do this include:
Presentations on watersheds, history and issues in the Plaster Creek Watershed, and things people can do to improve water quality in Plaster Creek.
An annual summer workshop at Calvin College. We consider topics such as the theological foundations for environmental stewardship, and review the basics of watershed ecology. This event also includes a chance to tour the creek and participate in restoration activities.
We host an event each spring and fall, which includes a presentation on Plaster Creek and opportunities to participate in on-the-ground restoration work.
Students in a new biology class are gathering water quality data, including flow rates, E. coli concentrations, and more. These data will be used to track changes in water quality over time. We are also gathering data on the early history of the watershed, and record oral histories from community members who have lived or worked in the watershed.
Most of our events include some form of on-the-ground work in the watershed. Examples of this include installing rain gardens, stenciling storm drains with 'dump no waste' icons, restoring native vegetation along the creek, and planting trees and wetland plants in tributaries to the creek. Practices that use plants to stabilize soil and filter runoff are essential to improving water quality. We have our own native plant nursery and landscaping initiative, called 'Native Landscapes', which we use to implement many of these projects.