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Clean creeks start at home

By Juliet Grable
Mail Tribune

Runoff presents dangers to fish, but homeowners — and pet owners — can do their part.

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As both the rains and the fall salmon return, it's a good time for homeowners to consider what they can do to improve the health of Bear Creek, that beleaguered waterway running through so many Rogue Valley towns.

Urban neighborhoods can be hard on creeks and rivers — literally.

"If it rains in an open field, the ground soaks water in like a sponge," says Greg Stabach, natural resources project manager for the Rogue Valley Council of Governments. But concrete driveways, parking lots, roads and rooftops dominate urban landscapes, and these impervious surfaces resist rainwater, funneling the lion's share of the water into storm drains, carrying fertilizers, paints, oils, chemicals and dog poop along with it. And storm drains lead directly to the creeks.

"Stormwater is not treated," Stabach stresses. Consequently, several pollutants impact Bear Creek, and although municipalities and the county are taking action to reduce both the volume of stormwater and the pollutants carried within it, individuals and small businesses can play vital roles.

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