Watershed is a resource guide for teachers,
students and citizens in the Boulder area and beyond. It provides you
with the information needed to learn more about the creek or wetland
near your school or in your neighborhood and community. It gives suggestions
for what you, classes or neighborhood groups can do to preserve and
protect that waterway. And it explains how you can raise native aquatic
species in an aquarium and eventually release them into your adopted
This watershed resource
guide was made possible by grants from the Denver Urban Resources Partnership
Office and the Bureau of Reclamation. The primary authors on the guide
were City of Boulder Water Resource Educator, Tammi Laninga, and Boulder
Creek Watershed Initiative President, Jeff Writer. We would like to
thank the Boulder Valley School District teachers who reviewed the guide
and piloted many of the activities: Holly Cunningham, Whittier Elementary;
Emily Weller, Bear Creek Elementary; Nadyne Orloff, Halcyon School;
Dan Tomlin, Burbank Middle School; and Jeff Writer, Centaurus High School.
Everyone lives in a watershed, and
most of us live near a river or stream. Our watershed is formed by Boulder
Creek and its tributaries. Learning about our watershed will give us
the necessary tools needed to ensure the protection of this incredible
A watershed is an area of land that
drains into a stream or lake. Watersheds range in size from an area
drained by a small alpine spring to a large river system such as the
Mississippi, which drains the entire central portion of the United States.
The Boulder Creek Watershed drains
approximately 440 square miles on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountain
Front Range. The basin is bordered on the west by the Continental Divide
where the headwater tributaries provide a significant portion of the
drinking water supply for those living in the basin. To the east, the
watershed extends past the border of the county where Boulder Creek
joins the St. Vrain River. The basin is a complex natural system which
has specific needs to remain in balance.
The watershed supports trout in
the higher stream reaches and warm water fish such as bass and sunfish
in the lower reaches. An abundant number of aquatic insects and water
fowl can also be found in and around the many creeks of the watershed.
Boulder Creek and it many tributaries also provide a number of valued
uses for the community such as water for irrigation and drinking, recreation,
flood control, and hydropower.
The cities of Nederland, Boulder,
Louisville, Lafayette and Superior are the largest cities in the watershed.
Approximately 150,000 people inhabit it currently, and by 2010 it is
estimated that the population will increase 25% to reach 190,000. As
population in the basin grows, development and the associated water
quality impacts will also increase.
Human impacts to the Boulder Creek
Watershed are many and varied. Historical mining activity in the upper
reaches of the watershed introduced metal contaminants into creeks.
More recent impacts to our waterways include building reservoirs for
water supply and hydropower; straightening and channeling steams for
flood protection; developing towns and cities along the primary waterways;
and taking water for irrigated agriculture. The combined results of
these uses have been the reduction of stream side vegetation; degradation
of water quality from agriculture and urban pollution; loss of native
aquatic species; and a general degradation of aquatic and riparian ecosystems.
The job of preserving our larger
rivers, reservoirs and aquifers is a task for local, state, and national
organizations. By protecting our smaller streams and restoring local
watersheds we can each be a part of the solution. Since every one of
use lives in a watershed, each of us directly affects the health of
a nearby creek. Everyone can help restore, protect or enhance a stream
at the local level. By monitoring streams that flow by our schools and
homes, we can get an idea of the activities going on in the watershed
upland from us. And we can make sure that we ourselves are not degrading
water for the people who live downstream. You can do this by organizing
a StreamTeam in your school or neighborhood. Your StreamTeam can adopt
a stream to protect and enhance. You can also choose to raise aquatic
species in an aquarium and release them into the adopted waterway at
the appropriate time. The best way to learn about the creek near you
is to jump in!
CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE STREAMS
IN YOUR WATERSHED?