By Caitlin Bell
The Watershed Project is always working to improve and expand our programs and services. During 2010, we initiated new projects all over the Bay Area, and even internationally.
Richmond Greenway Bioswale and Native Habitat Garden
With help from volunteers and local businesses and government, The Watershed Project is transforming a drainage ditch into a bioswale, a landscape of native vegetation and engineered soil that filters rainwater runoff from city streets and rooftops to reduce flooding and pollution. An expanse of blooming native plants will surround the bioswale, providing critical habitat for wildlife and insects. The bioswale is part of the Richmond Greenway, a three-mile, Rails-to-Trails project that is transforming a stretch of abandoned railway into a much-needed open space corridor for motor-free transportation, recreation, and urban agriculture. The Watershed Project has adopted two blocks of the Greenway, and is currently raising funds for additional improvements.
The Green Academy provides career training in conservation and restoration. The program works collaboratively with the Contra Costa Workforce Development Board and other organizations to identify young adults from the Richmond area who are interested in earning money while improving the local community and the environment. The participants gain hands-on experience and training that can be put to use in a future green job. This past summer, participants worked at a native plant nursery, built and planted vegetable beds, restored creeks, and explored the Bay on a boat-based marine science field trip. The Watershed Project is looking forward to a new cadre of Green Academy apprentices.
Bye Bye Basura!
In October, The Watershed Project helped students in Manzanillo, Mexico say “bye bye” to trash during our first-ever international program. To address the issue of marine debris, the Sister City Committee of San Pablo, California partnered with The Watershed Project to develop an ongoing educational exchange between San Pablo and its sister city of Manzanillo, Mexico. Bilingual staff from The Watershed Project staff coordinated teacher trainings, developed curriculum, and provided in-class assistance for a third-grade class at Lake Elementary School in San Pablo and a fifth-grade class at Escuela Manuel Antonio in Manzanillo. Students from each class exchanged crafts and letters that were delivered by The Watershed Project staff. We look forward to expanding our international program so more students can learn about the interconnectedness of our world’s creeks, rivers, and ocean.
In addition to our new projects, we continued to deliver and expand our signature programs. Our Healthy Watersheds program engaged 5,021 volunteers, a 176% increase over last year. These volunteers collected 20,025 pounds of trash from local watersheds, an increase of 167% over last year. Our education programs reached 3,645 students in grades K-12, a whopping 486% increase over last year. We also delivered 68 hours of professional development workshops to 128 educators. The Greening Urban Watersheds initiative, launched in 2009, involved 175 volunteers during 14 workdays to improve local urban watersheds. And the Living Shorelines program, launched in 2009 to support native oyster reef restoration, provided 969 contact hours of classroom and field trip-based learning experiences to 148 high school students.
The year 2010 was a rough one for coastal watersheds. The Gulf of Mexico experienced an oil spill of catastrophic proportions, highlighting the sensitivity of coastal and estuarine watersheds. The existence of organizations that protect these sensitive environments depends on support from donors and volunteers. As 2010 draws to a close, The Watershed Project would like to thank you, our donors and volunteers, for your financial support and numerous work hours over the past year. With your help, we will continue to provide services and education to communities in the Bay Area and beyond.