Tahlequah Daily Press


June 24, 2014

Spring Creek Coalition celebrates 20 years

TAHLEQUAH — Saturday morning, about 80 water quality enthusiasts gathered at the Timberlake Ranch on Spring Creek to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Spring Creek Coalition.

Since 1994, the group has planted over 2,000 trees along the 32-mile creek to promote streambank stabilization, and has earned awards from the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation.

“Today, we have representatives from Blue Thumb, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, who will lead workshops,” said Spring Creek Coalition President Beth Rooney. “We’re excited because we had 80 people signed up to attend today.”

Saturday’s event kicked off with an archery safety and how-to class, followed by a wildflower walk, birding, ceramics, a biology creek walk and a smoked pig lunch.

Donna Drury, founding member of SCC, lives near the Twin Bridges area of the creek.

“This creek runs 32 miles along privately-owned land, with no public access,” said Drury. “The goal of the coalition is to keep the creek pristine.”

A walk along the banks at the Timberlake Ranch site revealed the creek is in excellent condition, and the bottom could be seen in some of the deeper parts of the creek in that area.

“We have two cleanup events a year, usually one in the spring, then again in the fall. Also, in the fall, we plant anywhere from 200 to 400 trees for creek bed stabilization.”

Drury believes water, its quality and availability, will be at the center of many discussions in the future.

“Water is getting to be a big deal,” said Drury. “We work really hard to stay on top of the issues. I can’t say enough about Jennifer Owen, she worked really hard to get the coalition started and just loved the creek. She has made so many contacts that have helped us throughout the years.”

Owen was also a member for a number of years of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, which focuses on water quality issues within the Illinois River watershed.

Drury had her own favorite activity among those slated for Saturday.

“I really enjoy the wildflower walk,” she said. “I think water quality is pretty well represented here today, with all the different agencies here.”

Blue Thumb State Coordinator Cheryl Cheadle was gathering materials for a youth presentation.

“We are big fans of the Spring Creek Coalition,” said Cheadle. “It’s so important for people to realize that every single person can do something to protect streams and rivers in their area, whether that be taking shorter showers, picking up trash along a river, or planting trees to stabilize the banks. Everyone can do something.”

Blue Thumb is a program offered through the Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s Water Quality Division. Its goal is to protect water resources against nonpoint source pollution through groups of citizen volunteers.

“We’ve featured Spring Creek in two of our calendars, said Cheadle. “Today, I’m leading the kids on a biology creek walk and we’ll do a fish print for them to take home.”

During the biology walk, Cheadle helped participanrts learn about what sort of wildlife is native to Spring Creek, and explained that healthy streams have a lively community of fish and insects.

“We’re really excited, too, because the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation came today with an aquarium full of fish native to Spring Creek,” said Cheadle. “Anytime we can get the youth excited about water quality, it’s a good day.”

According to the Spring Creek Coalition’s website, the creek is one of only five water bodies in the state that is not listed as impaired.


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