Posts Tagged ‘community’

20 Gallon Challenge logoIn response to a record dry spring, MMWD is teaming up with other members of the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership—the nine North Bay cities and water districts that use Russian River water—to promote voluntary conservation this summer through the “20 Gallon Challenge.” The goal is to encourage every individual to reduce their water use by 20 gallons per day. By challenging ourselves to cut back on our water use, we can all help save for a rainy day . . . or rather a not-so-rainy day.

Saving 20 gallons a day can be as simple as installing aerators on kitchen and bathroom faucets and turning off the tap while tooth brushing. Fix a leaking toilet to save 30 gallons. Reduce irrigation time by two minutes or eliminate one irrigation cycle per week and you’ll save 100!

Visit 20gallons.org for more water conservation ideas. Take the pledge to reduce your water use by 20 gallons a day and you could win a high-efficiency clothes washer, water-wise landscape design, graywater system or other great prize.

How dry was this spring? From January-May 2013, MMWD recorded just 5.15 inches of rainfall at Lake Lagunitas, compared to an average of 32.82 inches for the same period, based on rainfall records dating back 135 years. On average, about 75 percent of our annual water supply comes from rainfall captured in the district’s seven reservoirs. The remaining 25 percent is imported from the Russian River under an agreement with the Sonoma County Water Agency.

Thank you for doing your part to help conserve our water supply!

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by Elise Hinman

How did the natural world captivate you as a child? Maybe it was when you learned that wild blackberries are edible (and delicious), built a fort out of downed tree branches, or observed a family of bluebirds making a nest in your backyard. I remember raising Sierran tree frogs from eggs at my house, watching the tiny tadpoles sprout legs as their tails disappeared. Releasing the young frogs back into the stream left a lasting impact on my respect for Mother Nature.

studying macroinvertebrates

Young citizen scientists get an up-close look at some of Lake Lagunitas’s macroinvertebrates at Family Science Day.

We all have our memorable moments in the great outdoors; we can only hope that an excitement for nature will live on in our youngest generations. On May 25, MMWD partnered with the California Academy of Sciences on an event aimed at making this hope a reality. Family Citizen Science Day at Lake Lagunitas brought a slew of activities to the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed to stoke the fire of a new generation of scientists. Over 150 people attended the four-hour event, and judging by the excited kids and beaming parents, it was an amazing success.

Each family was furnished with a Field Scientist Activity Book and a bandana with a map of MMWD’s trails. They could play Lake Lagunitas bingo during their walk around the lake, hang out at the Lagunitas deck for hands-on activities, or participate in some of our scheduled events. Kids who completed three or more activities received one thing no citizen scientist should be without: a field notebook!

The scheduled events included two outings to an actual Mt. Tamalpais bioblitz site. There I helped kids identify a plant, carefully dig it up and place it in a plant press. Once at Cal Academy, the pressed plant will be dried and then transferred to a permanent mount, which will preserve the specimen in perpetuity—with the collector’s name on it! Checkerbloom, cat’s ear and narrow-leaf mule’s ear were a few of the flowering species collected for this fascinating project.

Kite making

A future environmental steward puts her artistic talents to work coloring an osprey kite.

At the wooden deck on Lagunitas Dam, the kite-making table was a popular stop. Here, kids had the opportunity to color their own osprey before folding it into a kite complete with a tassel tail. One mother (a science teacher no less) even improved upon our design by adding weight to the tail, giving the kite more stability—way to go! Running back and forth on the dam, participants chased the breezes that would lift their kites sky-high.

Luckily, the commotion on the dam didn’t faze the turtles sunning themselves on logs floating in the lake. Family Science Day participants studied these reptiles through binoculars and determined whether they were native western pond turtles or invasive red-eared sliders. Such data is important for MMWD to keep track of each species’ population size. Toward the end of the event, one bold turtle swam near the wooden deck area to take a closer look at the festivities, to the delight of lake-gazers.

Other kids made a bee-line for the macroinvertebrate table, where Cal Academy’s Alison Young pointed out fascinating water bugs hiding among the lake’s aquatic vegetation. Equipped with a waterproof magnifier, kids could get up close to these critters and see how they move through the water.

Once an hour, my fellow watershed aides, Jaimie Baxter and Jen Stern, and I led families to the redwood grove at the bottom of the dam to meet a tree. What does it mean to “meet a tree?” Well, one bold participant would be blindfolded and then led on a winding path to a mystery tree in the grove. Without eyesight, she had to touch the tree, smell the tree, listen to the sounds around the tree, and remember as much as she could about the tree, Trusting her guides, she was led on a different winding path back to where she started. She could then remove the blindfold and accept the challenge of finding “her” tree! The kids loved this activity and played multiple rounds, I was surprised by the trust blindfolded kids placed in their leaders; they walked without hesitation into anything their guides led them through, even if their guide was four years old and more excited about the activity itself than making sure her sightless partner made it to the tree unhurt. It was a hoot!

Family Citizen Science Day filled me with hope. In the time I spent observing the activities from afar, I saw smiles, heard laughter from both kids and parents, and felt curiosity and joy emanating from the families at the event. I listened as kids asked questions about the natural world, unable to contain their excitement at the knowledge they gained. This day wasn’t successful because it brought a crowd of people; it was successful because we helped nurture a new generation of environmental scientists and nature-lovers. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Family Science Day is an annual event on the watershed. Next time you visit Lake Lagunitas please stop by Sky Oak Watershed Headquarters and pick up a free Sprouting Scientist Field Activity Book. Elise has completed her season with MMWD and headed off to Syracuse University to earn her Ph.D. in Biology, studying the evolutionary ecology of invasive plants.

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by Michael Paccassi and Ariana Chiapella

San Geronimo Salmon Habitat Enhancement Project flyer

Click the image above to view the event flier

As AmeriCorps members with the Watershed Stewards Project, we have had the unique opportunity to work with MMWD biologists in helping to protect, monitor and educate the public about the importance of salmonids like the coho salmon and steelhead trout. Though we aren’t all given the opportunity to work so closely with these beautiful and unique fish, as members of the community and stewards of the land we all share the responsibility of ensuring the survival and well-being of these endangered and threatened species.

Guess what? You’re in luck, because we’ve organized an event that will provide the community of Marin with the opportunity to do just that!

MMWD and the Watershed Stewards Project want to welcome you to a special riparian habitat enhancement project happening along the San Geronimo Creek. Come out and join us this Saturday, June 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to show your support for the salmon you all know and love!

To encourage habitat recovery and reduce stream bank erosion, we will be removing non-native and invasive plant species along a section of the San Geronimo Creek. We also will be replanting with native California plant species and using tree shelters to encourage the growth of larger trees to provide shade and habitat for our finned friends in the creek.

We will meet a little before 9:00 a.m. across from the Two Bird Cafe at 625 San Geronimo Valley in San Geronimo. All ages are welcome, so please bring the whole family. Tools, water, snacks and lunch will be provided. All you need to bring is a pair of sturdy boots, some sun protection, a reusable water bottle and your enthusiastic, hard-working self.

To pre-register or for more information about this unique opportunity, contact us at volunteerprogram@marinwater.org or (415) 945-1188.

We look forward to seeing you out there!

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by Robin McKillop

Marin-Friendly Garden Tour signThe Marin-Friendly Garden tour was a huge success with over 600 guests making 2,200 visits to nine diverse gardens on Saturday, May 18. Gardens featured native plants, edibles, rainwater catchment, smart irrigation, wildlife habitat, salvaged materials and more. (See photos of the gardens on our Facebook page.) In addition to strolling through these inspiring gardens, guests had the opportunity to attend on-site presentations by local experts on rainwater harvesting, defensible space and gardening with California natives. We hope the tour inspires visitors to embrace gardening practices that are easier on the environment, in particular ones that conserve and protect our precious water resources.

The garden tour was made possible by the generosity and talent of our host gardeners who shared their amazing gardens and vast knowledge with all of us on tour day. Thank you host gardeners for going above and beyond! Also, thanks to all of the volunteers who donated their time to make this tour possible. Many of these volunteers have been supporting MMWD garden tours for several years, while others just joined. We also owe a debt of gratitude to our sponsors for helping to make this tour possible:

The Urban Farmer Store
Bayside Garden Center
Marin Art and Garden Center
Marizco Landscape Management
O’Donnell’s Fairfax Nursery
Point Tiburon Plaza
U.C. Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners

Last, but not least, we would like to thank everyone who attended. We hope you enjoyed the tour as much as we did!

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by Jaimie Baxter

Sprouting scientistsDo you love learning about Mt. Tamalpais and its plants and animals? Explore the northern side of the mountain, participate in fun activities and become a Citizen Scientist.

The Marin Municipal Water District believes that exposing youth to real scientific projects and the outdoors is the best way to instill environmental stewardship. And, lucky for us, the California Academy of Sciences does too! Citizen science is a big part of what we do on Mt. Tamalpais, so we welcome you to join us for a very special event on the first Saturday of May. What is Citizen science? In essence, it is “the study of nature by the people who live in it, which means YOU!” We encourage you and your families to join us in being environmental stewards to Mt. Tamalpais.

In 2012, the Marin Municipal Water District and the California Academy of Sciences teamed up to conduct a Botanical Bioblitz—a large scale  survey of every single plant species on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed. This multi-year effort involves citizens, botanists, nature photographers and students alike. Click here for more information about this project.

On Saturday, May 4, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., MMWD and the California Academy of Sciences are hosting a “Sprouting Scientist” event at Lake Lagunitas in Fairfax. Both organizations will be on top of the dam at Lake Lagunitas to facilitate family-friendly, hands-on, science-based activities. Our Botanical Bioblitz, a real scientific project, is occurring on the same day, so families can come join the fun of collecting and recording all the plant species in the surrounding area. Come find out what it means to be a Citizen Scientist! Prizes will be handed out to all families who participate. The event is free, although the usual parking fee of $8.00 per vehicle still applies.

For more information, visit our website or contact volunteerprogram@marinwater.org or (415) 945-1128.

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by Trang Bach

Earth Day Marin posterCan you imagine that before 1970 it was perfectly legal to dump tons of toxic waste into a nearby stream? There was no legislation to prevent such acts or to stop big companies from pumping dark clouds of fumes into the air. Concerned about Earth’s fate, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin decided to create Earth Day as a way to celebrate planet Earth while bringing attention to the environment. His purpose was to rally people to improve our environment and preserve our natural resources. On April 22, 1970, an estimated 20 million people participated in Earth Day. Since then, Earth Day has become a global event and is celebrated in over 192 countries each year. Millions of people continue to come together to celebrate the earth and promote sustainable activities because of the foresight of Senator Nelson.

This year, Earth Day Marin 2013 Festival will take place on Sunday, April 21, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Redwood High School in Larkspur. It will be a fun, free, family-friendly event and a day of action on climate change solutions. There will be speakers, comedy, music, local organic food and hands-on activities, including Sea Party, a carnival for kids developed by Greenwood School 7th and 8th graders. This event will take place rain or shine. For more information visit earthdaymarin.org.

MMWD will have a booth at Earth Day Marin. Stop by and visit and we’ll give you some tips on water conservation and tell you about our upcoming Marin-Friendly Garden Tour on May 18. Let’s conserve and preserve our lovely planet!

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PrintWhere will you be when an emergency strikes? At the grocery store, at work in another county, driving home, or hiking on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed? If you are not near your landline or no longer have one, you’ll miss the critical call from the Office of Emergency Services with important instructions that could affect you and your family.

If you live, work or go to school in Marin County and are 18 and over, you can now register your cell phone and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone number on the secure self-registration portal, alertmarin.org, to receive emergency alerts by text, voice and email.

The cell phone self-registration portal is an important upgrade to Marin County’s Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS). TENS is a high-speed communications system that can quickly notify members of the public by phone of critical emergency information in situations where property or human life is in danger. MMWD is partnering with the Marin County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services to spread the word about this expanded notification system.

Landline phone numbers are already included in the emergency notification system, but cell phone numbers are not in the system until you register them. You may register multiple street addresses for notification, such as home, work or your children’s school. However, each street address requires a separate registration with a unique primary email. You may list two cell numbers and one VoIP number per email address.

Don’t take chances. Visit the self-registration portal today.

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