Maia Hirschbein
December 11, 2002
Final Report

Backyard Stream Team


On October 9 I met with Judy Johnson and the rest of the Stream Team, a group of about 10 women with varying backgrounds and qualifications, to discuss our objectives and goals for the program. These women have the similar interest of protecting and encouraging Walla Walla to be more aware and conscious of the various water sources that flow through inhabited areas. At this point, residents with stream front property have no obligations to keep water flowing through their property at decent water quality standards. In addition, these people have no additional information nor have they been contacted be the city or county of Walla Walla in order to ensure the conscientious treatment of the streams.

The stream team has adopted a program that was practiced in Whatcom County where residents signed a vow to become more aware of their practices such as using certain soaps to wash a car, or discarding waste into a nearby stream. These practices and many others showed to have a negative effect on the water that passed through or near their property. In Bellingham, this project proved to be quite successful, and led to great improvements of the quality of the water and community involvement in maintaining the quality. This program is hopefully going to have similar results in Walla Walla County. From merely visual and brief observations, an onlooker can see that there are parts of numerous streams that need help in Walla Walla. One can observe rusted cars alongside streams; countless sites where trash has built up along the streambeds, and a severe absence of vegetation can be noted near the streams that serve as buffers in a healthy Riparian environment. It is obvious to many residents of Walla Walla that something be done to alter these unacceptable conditions.

On October 30, I met again with Judy Johnson, Hal Thomas, and one of Hal’s associates at the county office. At this meeting we went over some of the objectives that they had for me as their intern, and also some of the actual logistics of the things I am going to be doing. This meeting was fairly brief, and served to give me the basic information of my goals and objectives for the stream project. (I included in my “goals and objectives” the things that we went over in this meeting.)

I met with quite of few people on November 6, all of whom expressed interest in assisting or being a part of the stream project. Some of these people include: Sue Parrish, a local middle school teacher who has been testing water quality with her seventh grade students for the past ten years, Cathy LaRoque, Hal Thomas, Judy Johnson, several members of the stream team, representatives for the Kooskooskie commons, and Judy Johnson. At this meeting we discussed ways in which we are going to obtain funding for publishing information to the public, and also updated and informed each other of what each of the attendants was working on. I feel comfortable at these meetings, and I usually quietly observe what is going on. At this point in the internship, I am still not completely sure of all of the details that are discussed at the meetings, so I try to pay very close attention in order to comprehend as much as possible. All of the people at these meetings are very respectful of my presence there, and are quite interested in the ideas that I bring up. I have felt quite welcomed among those involved.

On November 18, I met with Judy Johnson and a woman named Cathy at the city of Walla Walla headquarters. This woman is in charge of all G.I.S. programs, and is working with us in order to help us create the map including both land parcels and a map with the stream flow. Cathy volunteered to teach me to understand the GIS functions on county computers, which will help me better understand the process of the map making. I think that being more familiar with GIS is a very beneficial factor of this internship.

I have felt frustrated in the past with the slow start of the internship. I was enthusiastic from the beginning with getting this project started, but the meetings are dependent upon the schedules of full-time working people with busy schedules. I completely understand why they internship has gotten such a slow start, and in a way I think that this experience is beneficial in the realism of the process. I feel like in order to make small changes; local people need to be involved to start the flame. In order to make the changes possible, there is often quite a bit of red tape and rules that one must overcome. I value the experience that I have had so far, and I recognize its pertinence to my personal major.