Scenic picture of the russian river with a duck

Thanks for Reading and Walking with Us!

For 18 years, the Russian River Watershed Association (RRWA) has had the monthly honor of facilitating topic selection, authorship, translation, and bilingual distribution of environmental stewardship‑focused articles to publications large and small that serve communities throughout the Russian River watershed. This information service has been funded entirely through a shared and unbroken commitment of RRWA’s member agencies in Sonoma and Mendocino counties to regularly communicate with the watershed citizenry providing relevant and, ideally, self-actualizing watershed‑wide information.

The over 200 monthly article topics have covered a huge range of subjects, programs, practices, trends, tips, and considerations connected to understanding and stewarding our nearly 1,500 square miles of precious watershed creeks, river, forests, open spaces, agricultural lands, and urban lands. Residing within these natural resource contexts are our unique and interdependent habitats, certainly including the human ones.

The articles endeavored to speak to our collective human activities, behaviors, and decisions which have a significant influence on water quality, availability, suitability, and sustainability for the many watershed-dependent habitats. Highlighting insights of experts and practitioners, the articles highlighted aspects of many of RRWA’s programs such as the Russian River‑Friendly Landscaping Program, Safe Medicine and Sharps Disposal Program, Low Impact Development, Our Water Our World (Integrated Pest Management), Stormwater Awareness, High School Educational Program, and Creek Week. Topics were intended to be seasonally germane and oriented towards informing community members during periods of drought, flood, wildfire, public safety power shutoffs (PSPS), as well as holidays, school year, and even economic recession.

The early years provided content for printed publications. Ten years later social media accounts were added in a blog-compatible format to reach the online information consumer. Inspired to elevate the public engagement further, the RRWA member agencies adopted a City of Santa Rosa stormwater awareness program called Streets to Creeks (streetstocreeks.org) in 2019. This collaboration expanded the program to be Russian River watershed‑wide. The Streets to Creeks program utilizes multi-media strategies, tools, and engagement techniques to promote understanding and influence positive and informed behavior change. The success of this program has attracted local and state-wide recognition and awards, and now includes collaboration with jurisdictions in Napa and Marin counties.

This article was written partly to share a short story of how our public agencies continue to make great efforts informing and engaging community members while adapting and enhancing their efforts to utilize communication pathways and means popular with the general population. The other reason to write this article is to encourage sharing of your ideas for how our region can do even better. Outreach, education, and engagement are continuously unfinished efforts, and by necessity always open to new ideas and improvement.

Honored to serve as Executive Director of RRWA, I do have mixed feelings about announcing this is the last monthly environmental article penned through this format. While sad in a way reflective of my late boomer age bracket who grew up with the joy of unfolding and getting lost in daily newspapers and monthly periodicals, it is a point of pride to be part of a regional collaborative that continues to question norms and creatively work together in order to evolve together. The eighteen years of monthly articles are now compostable breadcrumbs and native bird seed scattered along our shared trail to tomorrow. Thanks for walking with us!

The RRWA environmental articles archive can be accessed  at rrwatershed.org/project/environmental-column

This article was authored by RRWA Executive Director, Andy Rodgers. RRWA is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoration, and watershed enhancement.