Watershed assessment to be unveiled

Study offers a scientific guide to area

POLK COUNTY -- Think of it as an almanac of the watershed, a scientific guide to the life of the area in one document.

An assessment of the Luckiamute, Ash Creek and American Bottom watersheds will be made public at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 6, at a "roll-out" celebration at the Monmouth Public Library hosted by the Luckiamute Watershed Council.

The assessment is a 200-page collection of local scientific data that comes from dozens of sources researched and updated over the past year.

The study will help the council prioritize future restoration projects it will do cooperatively in this huge watershed.

The assessment is full of up-to-date facts and figures about nearly everything that impacts the wildlife and people who live in the approximately 250,000 acres in the Luckiamute, Ash Creek and American Bottom drainages.

It is the largest watershed in Polk County, extending generally from the Coast Range west of Falls City to the Willamette, north from the Monmouth Cutoff Road to Dallas and south past the Benton County line.

The roll-out celebration begins with an informal display of maps and charts of everything from soil types to geographical and population highlights to fish and wildlife populations and temperature data.

All of these maps and charts, along with descriptions of the watershed's history and other data, are included in a CD that will be given free to every visitor at the roll-out who wants one.

After the informal display and refreshments, council coordinator Eve Montanaro will introduce council members, and then Ralph Garono, the consultant who directed the assessment, will lead a presentation that describes what is in the assessment, how it might be used and what still remains to be studied in the watersheds.

There will be plenty of time for questions from visitors.

The volunteer council and its contractors have spent the past year gathering scientific data about these two watersheds, a study funded by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.

The study is one of dozens being conducted across the state in more than 30 watershed councils. The Luckiamute/Ash Creek council will use the assessment to help guide its decisions about improvement efforts.

Throughout the assessment process, the board has been guided by input from community members. The board includes landowners, industry representatives, state and federal agency representatives and watershed residents.

The council is seeking volunteers and council members to fill agriculture, industry and resident posts. The council meets on the second Thursday of every month.

Chris Vandenberg, the board member who directed the study, said that the most important feature of the assessment is that "we now know what we don't know -- where the data gaps are.

"The Luckiamute and Ash Creek have really been ignored by most agencies because people believe there is nothing special about them.

"The assessment on the other hand has focused specifically on our watersheds and points to a very diverse watershed both in land-use patterns, vegetation and wildlife uses."

More information is available by calling Eve Montanaro at 503-838-8804.


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