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The objective of the Oak Creek Community Outreach Program (OCCOP) is to raise the awareness level, particularly of those living or recreating in the proximity of Oak Creek, regarding the consequences to littering and pollution, as well as changing the outdoor behavior of all visitors to Oak Creek.

Keeping Oak Creek Clean and Healthy

The objective of the Oak Creek Community Outreach Program (OCCOP) is to raise the awareness level, particularly of those living or recreating in the proximity of Oak Creek, regarding the consequences to littering and pollution, as well as changing the outdoor behavior of all visitors to Oak Creek.

We hope to educate residents and visitors to Oak Creek in following protocols that are expected of them in its use, and to implement recommendations for outreach and education stated in the Oak Creek Watershed Improvement Plan (OCWIP).

The OCWIP has identified Oak Creek as not attaining water quality standards for E. coli.  The presence of E. coli  in Oak Creek is a concern because it is an indicator of the likely presence of fecal contamination which may cause human health problems.

To follow is a series of Messages with Protocols and Take-Aways we hope you will understand, try to practice, and help spread the word.


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  • 1-Downloadable OCCOP Materials

    If you'd like to learn more or help by spreading the materials we use to promote our messages, you will find files to download here.

    Our Brochure HERE

    Our Bookmark Series HERE

    Our Clean Water Starts wih Me! poster HERE

    Closeups of the Oak Creek Watershed Terrain Model: 1 HERE | 2 HERE | 3 HERE

  • Agricultural Runoff

    Livestock Manure

    Protocol: Prevent livestock manure from polluting Oak Creek

    Messages: Keeping livestock away from Oak Creek will decrease contamination (especially for downstream neighbors) and prevent erosion of banks. 

    Please make periodic checks of fencing, and timely repairs.

    Take-away messages:

    • Be a Good Neighbor! Please prevent your livestock from drinking in or around Oak Creek in order to prevent downstream contamination
    • Our environment begins with your land
    • Practice good horse keeping

    Fertilizers and pesticides

    Protocol: Minimize fertilizing, and use alternative herbicides & pesticides

    Messages:

    • Herbicides kill indiscriminately
    • Alternative pesticides are better for the watershed environment
    • Herbicides and pesticides kill life forms in the Creek and degrade water quality
    • Runoff from over-fertilizing transports nutrients down into Oak Creek and causes algae blooms
    • Overuse of fertilizer and pesticides can damage the future entry into the regional aquifer
    • Nitrogen promotes algae and plant overgrowth in Oak Creek’s riparian corridor

    Take-away message:

    • Reducing fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides or using alternatives could be more cost- efficient and help improve the water quality of Oak Creek.
  • Animals

    Dog feces

    Protocol: Pick up pet waste
    Messages:

    • Dog waste degrades water quality and contaminates Oak Creek
    • When you pick up after your dog you are reducing the risk of bacteria and parasites being transported into Oak Creek and becoming a health problem
    • When you pick up after your dog you are helping to eliminate the spread of disease in wildlife
    • When surface waters contain fecal contaminants, people can come in contact with pathogens such as Cryptosporidium spp., Giardia spp., Shigella spp., norovirus and E. coli 0517:H7 when recreating in the stream, which may cause human health problems that include skin, ear, eye, gastrointestinal, urinary tract, respiratory, neurologic and wound infections
    • Dog droppings are one of the leading causes of pathogen contamination in streams; each gram of pet waste contains an average of 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, some of which can cause disease in humans.

    Take-away messages:

    • Scoop the Poop!
    • Pick up where your dog left off
    • Do your doody
    • When nature calls, make sure you pick up
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job

    Wildlife feces

    Protocol: Feeding wildlife disturbs nature’s delicate balance
    Messages:

    • Sharing your picnic or discarding your food waste in the forest leads to increased wildlife feces in Oak Creek
    • Wildlife feces pollute Oak Creek
    • Sharing your picnic or discarding your food waste leads to changes in wildlife behavior and dependence on human food
    • Discarded food waste attracts more wildlife to the Creek area
    • Human food is not necessarily nutritional for animals, and could impact their health in a negative way
    • Raccoons & skunks get into trash and increase pollution of Oak Creek
    • Raccoons & skunks are typical rabies carriers and could be a health hazard

    Take away messages:

    • Leave No Trace
    • Do Not Litter
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job
  • Erosion and Sedimentation

    Irrigation diversions

    Protocol: Retain water on your property as a resource for horticulture

    Messages:

    • Keep sediment/top soil on your land by reducing runoff
    • Letting sediment flow from your land to Oak Creek increases E. coli
    • Sedimentation provides a home for E. coli
    • When sediment is disturbed in Oak Creek it can create health issues

    Take away messages:

    • Keeping sediment/top soil on your property will help to reduce E. coli in Oak Creek
    • Our environment… begins with your land

    Building and road construction

    Protocol: Control runoff from your property

    Messages:

    • Instruct your contractors to make sure they have adequate controls in place to control runoff from your property during a storm event
    • Fresh tar is toxic and can wash down into Oak Creek
    • Chemicals from road tar are harmful to plants and aquatic life
    • Be cognizant that chemicals on roads can leach into Oak Creek
    • Use environmentally safe herbicides on roadways

    Take away messages:

    • Controlling runoff from your property will help reduce contamination of Oak Creek
    • Our environment… begins with your property

    Road maintenance

    Protocol: Prevent leaching of toxic road tar and herbicides

    Messages:

    • Fresh tar is toxic and can wash down into Oak Creek
    • Chemicals from road tar are harmful to plants and aquatic life
    • Be cognizant that chemicals on roads can leach into Oak Creek
    • Use environmentally safe herbicides on roadways

    Take away messages:

    • Control leaching of toxic road tar and herbicides into Oak Creek
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job
    • Our environment… begins with your community

    Low water crossings

    Protocol: Inspect and maintain Creek crossings

    Message:

    • Crossings of Oak Creek should be inspected and maintained frequently to prevent erosion and possible structural collapse

    Take away messages:

    • Erosion of low water crossings can be dangerous, as well as harmful to the water quality of Oak Creek
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job
    • Our environment… begins with your property

    Unauthorized or “social” trails

    Protocol: Hike only on designated trails or forest roads

    Messages:

    • Unauthorized trails destroy vegetation, cause erosion, and sediment runoff
    • Unauthorized trails often cut through sensitive habitats and off-limit areas, and can be a threat to wildlife
    • Shortcuts may save seconds, but restoration can take years
    • Consider your own safety and stay on developed trails or dry, solid rock areas with good footing.

    Take away messages:

    • Trail blazing can be dangerous, destroy vegetation and cause erosion
    • Take only photographs, leave only footprints

    Jeep/Off Road Vehicle (ORV) trails

    Protocol: Stay on designated trails/roads

    Messages:

    • Maintain vehicles
    • Eliminate oil leaks and other petrochemicals
    • Use public restrooms
    • Be sensitive to the forest habitat

    Take away messages:

    • Use common sense and stay on authorized Jeep/ORV trails/roads
    • Take only photographs, leave only footprints
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job
  • Recreation

    Human feces

    Protocol: Use public restrooms

    Messages:

    • Human feces pollute Oak Creek
    • When surface waters contain fecal contaminants, people can come in contact with pathogens such as Cryptosporidium spp., Giardia spp., Shigella spp., norovirus and E. coli 0517:H7 when recreating in the Creek, which may cause human health problems that include skin, ear, eye, gastrointestinal, urinary tract, respiratory, neurologic and wound infections.
    • Human feces degrade the scenic quality of the Oak Creek corridor and are offensive to other people.
    • Attracts wildlife, flies and leads to disease

    Take away messages:

    • Scoop your Poop!
    • Use public restrooms
    • Leave No Trace
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job

    Trash

    Protocol: Do not litter

    Messages:

    • Take pride in the forest environment and treat it with respect as you would your own property.
    • Trash needs to be packed up and taken with you or put into receptacles.
    • Trash degrades the scenic quality of the Oak Creek corridor, and also could lead to chemical degradation, too.
    • Trash attracts wildlife and encourages fecal contamination of the Creek

    Take away messages:

    • Pack in – Pack out!
    • Leave No Trace
    • Leave it better than you found it
    • Don’t use the forest as a public dump
    • Take only photographs, leave only footprints
    • Litter and It Will Hurt

    Used Baby Diapers

    Protocol: Washing diapers in Oak Creek causes pollution

    Messages:

    • Human feces pollute Oak Creek
    • When surface waters contain fecal contaminants, people can come in contact with pathogens such as Cryptosporidium spp., Giardia spp., Shigella spp., norovirus and E. coli 0517:H7 when recreating in the Creek, which may cause human health problems that include skin, ear, eye, gastrointestinal, urinary tract, respiratory, neurologic and wound infections.
    • Place in appropriate receptacles
    • Keep used diapers away from the Creek because they cause pollution
    • Human feces attracts wildlife, flies and leads to disease

    Take away messages:

    • Leave No Trace
    • Use Public Restrooms
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job
    • Our environment... it’s the only one we’ve got so please treat it with respect
  • Riparian Buffers

    Riparian / Creekside Buffers

    Protocol: Planting invasive species negatively affects the health of Oak Creek

    Messages:

    • Invasive plants (like Giant Reed) can change the flow and direction of Oak Creek which in turn can cause pollution
    • Invasive plants can be toxic to water quality and animals
    • Invasive plants are prolific and dominate as well as out compete native vegetation
    • When the Creek is choked then the chemistry of the riparian area changes
    • Invasive plants (like Salt Cedar) can increase salinity
    • Invasive plants are a wildfire hazard

    Take-away messages:

    • Research plants that will enhance and promote a healthy riparian buffer and contribute to improvement of water quality in Oak Creek
    • Our environment begins with your property
  • Sediment Reservoirs

    Protocol: Avoid disturbing sediment pools in Oak Creek

    Message:

    • Disturbance of sediment pools on the bottom of Oak Creek that hold bacteria and viruses can cause human illness

    Take-away messages:

    • Be aware that some “swimming holes” in Oak Creek could house deposits of sediment that may cause human illness when disturbed
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job
  • Urban Areas

    Stormwater runoff

    Protocol: Retain stormwater on your property as a valuable resource for landscaping

    Messages:

    • Runoff transports sediment/top soil, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and pet waste into Oak Creek
    • Alternative pesticides and herbicides are better for the watershed environment
    • Utilize composting, rain gutters and rain barrels
    • Runoff from over-fertilizing transports nutrients down into Oak Creek and causes algae blooms
    • Overuse of fertilizer and pesticides can damage the future entry into the regional aquifer
    • Nitrogen promotes algae and plant overgrowth in Oak Creek’s riparian corridor
    • Dog droppings are one of the leading causes of pathogen contamination in streams; each gram of dog poop has more than 20 million E. coli bacteria colonies in it (not to mention the nitrogen and phosphorus).

    Take-away message:

    • Good stewardship of your property will reduce pollutants being transported to Oak Creek by stormwater runoff.
    • Please don’t feed the storm drain
    • Our environment… begins with your yard
  • Wastewater

    Sewer system

    Protocol: Keep your sewer system maintained

    Messages:

    • Know the location of your sewer pipes
    • Inadequate maintenance of a sewer system can cause blockage and backup
    • Dispose of pharmaceutical drugs at authorized locations
    • Storm events will transport sewage down to Oak Creek
    • Sewer odors are offensive and unhealthy

    Take-away messages:

    • Be responsible! Proper maintenance of your community sewer system will reduce public health issues and prevent pollution of Oak Creek.
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job
    • Our environment… begins with your community

    Residential & Commercial Septic Systems

    Protocol: Keep your septic system maintained regularly

    Messages:

    • Inadequate maintenance of a septic system may result in unnecessary overflows into the leach field and cause pollution beyond your property
    • Storm events can transport pollutants down to Oak Creek
    • Septic system sewage odors are offensive and unhealthy
    • Older septic systems should be upgraded to meet current public health codes
    • Keep your graywater confined to your property

    Take-away messages:

    • Be a good neighbor! Proper maintenance of your septic system will reduce public health issues and prevent pollution beyond the confines of your property
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job
    • Our environment… begins with your property

    RV Black Water Systems

    Protocol: Keep your black water system properly pumped and maintained

    Messages:

    • Do not empty your black water system into, or near, Oak Creek
    • Black water pollutes Oak Creek and is hazardous to human health and aquatic life
    • Properly dispose of black water according to RV Park and public health regulations

    Take-away messages:

    • Be a good citizen! Prevent pollution by pumping and maintaining your RV black water system.
    • Pollution prevention: it’s everyone’s job
    • Our environment is the only one we have so please treat it with respect
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