CreekCare is a program for private landowners designed to increase the amount of shade in the Johnson Creek watershed.
Who is eligible?
Owners and managers of land adjacent to or containing streams in the Johnson Creek watershed (main stem or tributary streams) are eligible. Our priority is to work with properties with little or no vegetative cover on the stream, particularly those in the upper watershed/headwaters areas. Grant funding allows us to provide these services at no cost to the landowner–you’ve already paid for this work with your taxes!
What’s the process?
Site visit – Our Riparian Program Manager will come out for an initial site visit to your property, to assess what actions would most help water quality and wildlife habitat, and discuss options with you, the landowner–we don’t do anything you don’t want us to!
Agreement – If you are willing to participate in the program, we’ll ask you to sign a cooperative agreement (basically, “we’ll do the work, and you’ll let us”–no fancy legalese).
Site prep – We’ll then make arrangements for a contract crew to begin site preparation (weed control, etc.). We’ll always give you as much notice as we can when a crew will come out, and can schedule them to suit your needs. Crews typically use a combination of manual, mechanical, and/or chemical weed control; we’re happy to leave out that last one if you prefer not to have herbicides used on your property.
Planting – Once the project area is ready for planting, we’ll have crews out during the winter months (usually January to March) to install native plants along the stream (again, paid for through grant funds–no cost to the landowner).
Maintenance – Depending on continued funding and how tenacious the weeds are, crews will continue to maintain the area after planting for 3-5 years, long enough for the plantings to be able to make it on their own. After that, we’re still a phone call away if you need help keeping weeds down in the planting area.
Contact Noah Jenkins, Riparian Program Manager
Frequently Asked Questions about Restoration Projects in the Watershed
There are a lot of organizations and agencies in the area that work to protect the environment in different ways, with different missions. We hope the following clarifies the nature of our work and of our partnerships with property owners in the watershed. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.
Why does JCWC want to work with me to improve the natural areas on my property?
JCWC has worked with scientists and technical experts to identify priority areas of the watershed to restore in order to increase shade over the creek and help keep water temperatures low. These areas are located largely in the upper watershed.
Is a watershed council a government organization?
No. Watershed councils are not-for-profit grassroots organizations that work with communities to improve the natural health of various watersheds throughout the state. JCWC is funded largely by grants and individual donations. While we coordinate and share expertise with local governments about restoration on public lands, our work with private landowners is independent from those entities.
Do I have to worry about being regulated or reported to regulatory agencies?
Our first priority is to create quality relationships with our friends and neighbors in the community in order to promote an ethic of stewardship and improve overall watershed health. We understand the concerns of landowners in regards to environmental regulations and property rights, and your confidence in us is of the utmost importance. We do not have the authority to impose or enforce regulations, and will not report anything we learn during our work on your property – unless we see actions taking place that are immediately hazardous or harmful to the health of the community (eg. dumping toxic chemicals into the water).
My local Soil & Water Conservation District has already contacted me about doing similar work. What is the difference, and why should I work with JCWC?
Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are public entities striving for similar goals of watershed health good stewardship of land and water. We often work with SWCDs in the area to achieve the same goals. If you have been contacted by your local SWCD about restoration on your property, we encourage you to work with them. The main difference is that SWCDs are public agencies, while watershed councils are nonprofit organizations.
How will restoration work benefit my property?
There are many benefits to stream-side re-vegetation, including an increase in your property value.. Riparian vegetation also serves the native environment and wildlife by providing the food sources to which native wildlife are naturally adapted. It provides a natural corridor through which animals can safely travel and migrate. It also attracts many beneficial insects, which are the foundation of the natural aquatic food web. In addition to the opportunity to enjoy this diverse natural area in your own backyard, planting native vegetation near the stream is beneficial to you as a landowner because it is the best way to prevent bank erosion. Native plants provide a variety of root systems that hold and help build the soil. Lastly, the vegetation buffer acts to slow down and absorb surface water flow, which means it can both mitigate floods during high water events and filter out toxins, pollutants, and fertilizers from the land before reaching the waterways.
Will I have to contribute my time and/or money to this work if JCWC starts restoration on my property?
It is up to you how involved you are in the restoration process – contributions in both time and funding although not required are appreciated. We will be transparent with you about how much funding we have, what it will be used for, and how long it will last for each project.
How long do restoration projects take to complete?
Restoration is an ongoing endeavor. Ideally we could implement a project and continue to monitor and maintain it for decades, as trees and shrubs mature and natural processes rebound. However, the reality of a small organization working to restore a large area of land is that we can only allocate so much time to each individual project. Usually, weed control and planting takes place over the course of one or two planting seasons (generally late fall or winter/early spring). Depending on the size of your property, the initial planting will usually take anywhere from one day to one week. After that, periodic monitoring and maintenance generally takes place over the course of 3-5 years. We always get in touch with you first and work around your schedule before we re-visit your property.
I think this is great work, but what difference will it make to restore my property if my neighbors are not willing to do the same?
Our overall goal is to create continuous corridors of stream-side habitat along Johnson Creek and its tributaries. The best way to do that is to expand on existing stream-side forests in the watershed, or to conduct restoration on multiple adjacent properties. However, that is not to say that planting one property at a time is a wasted investment. Every step in the process is one toward a healthier watershed, and we plan to continue to reach out to many landowners. Our work will positively impact the land of those we work with, and our hope is that this can serve as an example to your neighbors. If you choose to work with us, we hope you will help us spread the word about the many benefits of riparian restoration!