Our Kids Creek Care Russian River program engages underserved youth in southwest Santa Rosa from within the watershed in which they live. Two important Russian River tributaries flow through the diverse, economically disadvantaged southwest area neighborhoods, Colgan Creek and Roseland Creek. Our proposed environmental educational and “take action” project is designed to improve water quality protection within the two watersheds, and establish “youth action groups” for continued water quality protection advocacy and stewardship activities.
The southwest area of Santa Rosa is the most culturally diverse area of Sonoma County with some neighborhoods within the watershed being over 60% Latinx. Many of the neighborhoods are classed as disadvantaged or severely disadvantaged, and the southwest area is on the edge of the city/county interface with jurisdictional infrastructure presenting challenges. We have worked in the area for several years. Our established youth programs already include bilingual Spanish support, and we are recruiting other language support services from students at Sonoma State University. We have networked on earlier projects with other groups working in the area and within these watersheds; our existing partnerships with the Laguna Foundation, Russian River Watershed Association, Russian River Confluence, and others enhance our environmental education work as well as often provide direct project support through in-kind donations of native plants, trash cleanup support, etc.
This project starts with engaging youth in watershed discovery with a recognition of the important role people play in protecting fish and other wildlife in their watershed. Tracing the flow of a drop of water from their residence downstream through the Russian River to the Pacific Ocean starts the discovery of “what is a watershed” and is combined with several “take action” days to address invasive species, riparian zone enhancement plantings, and more.