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Report Card Blues: Improving the Grade

By Jill Erickson

Creating the 2019 Blue River Report Card was a team effort and the results help us track progress on improving the health of the watershed. The score for the watershed was a “C-.” The results tell us that the Blue River is threatened, and improving the grade is going to be a team effort, too. But what does that look like?

There are a few easy steps everyone can do that will make a difference. Remember - we all live downstream and what you do matters.

Volunteers are welcome to clean up the Blue River during the annual Blue River Rescue. Water quality is poor in this stretch of the river and there are few recreational areas.

1. Find out if your city has rules that protect streams. You can send an email to your local elected official and find out if they support laws for healthy rivers. In the report card category "Collaborative Watershed Governance'' in every section of the watershed received an “F.” When citizens voice concerns, their representatives listen.

2. Pay attention and learn about what is happening to land and creeks in your neighborhood. If you see evidence of pollution, flooding or illegal dumping report it to your city. Is there unused open space in your community like vacant lots that could be repurposed for something greener? Are new developments being built and are they communicating with neighbors about their plans? Can you attend public meetings to learn more about new projects in your neighborhood?

3. Be conscientious about how you take care of your outdoor space. “Native Habitat” and “Riparian Cover” indicators received a “D” or “F” in almost every section of the Report Card. Reduce or eliminate using chemicals, plant native plants and consider using rain barrels and gardens to catch rainwater. There are great tips and resources from one of our Alliance partners, Mid-America Regional Council here.

4. Get involved! By volunteering, you can become more connected and aware of issues facing the Blue River and how the issues affect you. Awareness is the key to inspiring action at the grassroots level and at the policy-making level. The “Awareness” indicator received a “D” in every section of the Report Card. You can be inspired by the Blue River Documentary or sign up to volunteer as part of the “Renew the Blue” campaign - an effort uniting local efforts across the watershed.

Small steps lead to big changes, so get involved today!

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