Watershed watchers program thrived during stay home order

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Local volunteers spent a record number of hours helping to keep the Birch Bay and Terrell Creek watersheds clean during the stay-at-home order, according to the Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management District (BBWARM).

BBWARM’s Adopt-a-Block program, which started in September 2019, allows volunteers to adopt a section of road, beach, stream or park and commit to keeping it free of trash and debris. It aims to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff and protect water quality in Birch Bay and Terrell Creek.

“April and May were our best months yet with our volunteers recording 83 total hours,” said Lars Olson, stormwater education specialist for Whatcom County Public Works. “People have spare time right now and they are using it to give back to the Birch Bay community.”

The program is a collaborative effort between BBWARM, the Whatcom County Health Department, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce and community volunteers.

The adopt-a-block program currently has 25 active volunteers who have recorded 200 volunteer hours and collected more than 100 bags of trash since the program started last fall, Olson said. Volunteers remove litter and other contaminants, install storm drain markers to remind people that they drain to the bay, and reduce human impacts on their adopted section.

BBWARM supplies out equipment kits to interested volunteers. Kits include a bucket, high-visibility vest, trash grabber, trash bags, gloves, hand sanitizer, traffic cones, brushes and storm drain markers. Olson said additional kits will soon be available to check out from the Birch Bay Visitor Information Center and Chamber of Commerce. Volunteers also get yard signs that say, “I protect Birch Bay.”

To learn more, go to bbwarm.whatcomcounty.org or contact Lars Olson at Lolson@co.whatcom.wa.us.

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