A flowing stream is a welcome sight this summer and fall in Douglas County. The Foster Creek Conservation District and its Environmental Monitoring Program is sampling water quality for Fiddle, Deep, and Foster Creeks. The District received funding from the Department of Ecology to monitor streams that are listed as impaired in Washington State. To learn more about the Dept. of Ecology's surface water quality standards, visit their page.
Grazing and tillage have shaped our county and provided many valuable products however, they can also negatively affect water quantity and quality. To help our streams and protect watershed health, with landowner permission the District planted thousands of native plants last year and managed invasive weed species along several reaches on the three creeks. Restored riparian plants will shade stream banks, reduce erosion, and provide better quality habitat for in-stream invertebrates and animals like sage grouse.
To understand how our work effects water quality, the District is monitoring several water characteristics including temperature, dissolved oxygen, and water clarity. Plant species, soil erosion from tilling, organic and inorganic material coming from the soils themselves, groundwater and farming and ranching runoff all influence water quality. The changes our riparian plants will bring to the streams can take years, but monitoring water quality now will help us better document improvements over time to guide our progress. The District hopes to make the information gathered available on our website in the near future, so everyone can share in the changes taking place in our streams without getting wet!