In partnership with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC), four young people spent the last two summers working on Oak Creek recreation sites, talking to visitors, picking up trash, human and dog waste, and making presentations at local and regional events. The Oak Creek Ambassadors were funded both years by a grant from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Ambassadors were trained and hired by the AZCC, and USFS and OCWC and coordinated closely with OCWC, Recreation Resource Management (RRM) and others who work and live in the Oak Creek corridor.
The program has proven a great success and we hope that we are able to receive future funding for this groundbreaking, and highly effective educational outreach program. Please review the documentary Loved to Death: The Story of Oak Creek to see first-hand what it’s like to be an Oak Creek Ambassador!
Year by Year Break Down
Post the Slide Fire, the 2014 Ambassadors refocused their attention to middle Oak Creek and surrounding high-use trails to mitigate litter and feces as well as monitor water quality and do fecal surveys. This years accumulated trash totals significantly beat out last years clean up, with 3,736 pounds of trash of which 2,041 pounds were recycled. This included 260 pounds of feces and 69 diapers. They also spoke with over 2,586 people and gave 371 hours of education.
The 2014 Ambassadors created the “How Long Till Its Gone” interactive trash model which now accompanies the terrain model during presentations and tabling’s to the public. It was hand crafted with wood burning art by Kat Solorio and Max Tapia.
To cap the season off, two Ambassadors took it upon themselves to create a 20 minute documentary titled Loved to Death: The Story of Oak Creek about the Oak Creek Ambassador program this year. The film details everything from trash cleanups, educational presentations, water sampling, fecal count monitoring, Slide Fire efforts such as Narrowheaded Gartersnake capture, sandbagging for flood and erosion control, and education on health/ safety post fire, along with other efforts to mitigate pollution. This documentary will be free and available for public use as an educational tool, not for commercial use.
In 2013, the Ambassadors spent the majority of their time in Oak Creek Canyon, focused mainly on high-use creek-side recreational sites and campground. The accumulated totals are pretty alarming from the July 4th weekend through the end of September (about three months): Almost 2557 pounds of trash collected including 55.7 lbs of feces and 47 diapers.
On the upside: 10,769 visitors were spoken to directly and 762 hours of education given to them regarding the watershed, and recreating responsibly. The direct contact with people in the watershed led to hundreds of hours of successful education to students, residents and visitors alike.
We feel this face-to-face approach with residents and visitors by the Ambassadors, backed by media publicity and other components of our education and outreach program, is helping the overall goal to change residents and visitors attitudes towards outdoor ethics. Positive comments are being sent to us and posted on our social media sites. More importantly, the Ambassadors have positively affected E. coli reduction in Oak Creek. Our next step is to work with the Forest Service and ADOT to come up with some support and other Best Management Practices (BMPs).
Ricky Duran, 2013 Oak Creek Ambassador also organized an Eco-Weekend on October 19th and 20th with support from OCWC, the Forest Service and the Coconino Rural Environment Corps (CREC)- now AZCC. The two-day event was presented under the Oak Creek Community Outreach Program (OCCOP) with participants from ASU, UA and NAU as well as local high schools, and community groups. An Eco-Hike, Eco-Tour and Eco-Symposium featuring Michael Fulton, Director, Water Quality Division, ADEQ as keynote speaker was featured for October 19th followed by an Eco-Mixer in the evening. Following, an Eco-Fair open to the general public was held at West Sedona School. The Eco-Fair included exhibits by local environmental organizations and was an opportunity for the public to learn about current projects and get involved.
June 12 –September 7, 2014
# of people talked to: 2,586
minutes/ hours of education: 22,246 min/ 370.77 hours
lbs of trash (total): 3,736
lbs of recycling: 2,041
# of diapers: 69
lbs of feces: 260 lbs
Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC) Youth Crews (2 times)
Red Rock Visitor Center (5 times)
Oak Creek Visitor Center (2 times)
Chamber of Commerce (2 times)
Cornfest in Camp Verde (2 days) – over 350 contacts
Sedona Summer School/Camp
National Day of the Cowboy Celebration, Uptown Sedona
NAU Summer Camp
Sedona Farmers Market (2 times)
Indian Gardens Marketplace (2 times)
Sedona Charter School
The Peaks School, Flagstaff
Northland Prep Academy, Flagstaff
Coconino County Fair
Chino Valley Library
Chavez Ranch Road/ Recreation Area
Crescent Moon Ranch/ Red Rock Crossing
Soldier Pass Trail Head
Carroll Canyon Trail Head
Sugarloaf Trail Head
Andante Trail Head
Creation of documentary/ film on the human impact on the watershed/ Ambassador program
Building of “How Long Till Its Gone” Model
Recapture Threatened Narrow Headed Garter Snakes for experimental captive breeding post Slide Fire
Water Sampling for EDOG AMP
Fecal Count Surveys for EDOG AMP
Oak Creek Jeopardy Board- lesson plans for in-school presentations
Assistance to USFS in creation of new LNT/ Water Quality signage for Oak Creek