What's new, Bear Creek?
Here at Rogue Riverkeeper, we think about Bear Creek a lot. Our office sits adjacent to Neil Creek, a tributary that meets up with Emigrant Creek to form Bear Creek. The Bear then travels through Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford, and Central Point before reaching the mighty Rogue River just upstream from Gold Hill. The Bear Creek watershed covers approximately 395 square miles and while it’s the most urbanized creek in the Rogue River Basin, it boasts a unique mix of natural and developed environmental beauty.
Along with our many other current priorities at Rogue Riverkeeper, our focus on Bear Creek involves community engagement, water quality monitoring, and building partnerships across the many entities interested in protecting and restoring this waterway.
So, what’s new?
The Swim Guide: Two New Sites on Bear Creek
Every summer since 2010, Rogue Riverkeeper begins its seasonal water quality monitoring program which collects samples from approximately 20 different locations to let the community know what waterways are safe for recreation. These samples are then tested for bacteria pollution, specifically E. coli, and compared to the standard bacteria levels (set by the Department of Environmental Quality) allowable in Oregon’s recreational waters. If the levels are too high, those sites violate Oregon’s water quality standards and the findings will be noted on Swim Guide as well as passed along to the Department of Environmental Quality.
This year in addition to our regular North Mountain site, we added two new sites on Bear Creek, at Bear Creek Park and Upton Rd. Bridge , to try to capture a more complete story of how water is impacted as it flows from Ashland to Central Point. Results are posted weekly on Swim Guide, and will also be available in a Rogue Basin Report Card this fall.
Bear Creek Initiative: Rogue Riverkeeper’s focus on Bear Creek
While Rogue Riverkeeper has historically put energy toward protecting and enhancing Bear Creek - this year, we’re taking advantage of an increased focus on Bear Creek by joining forces with many local entities to plan and implement improvements to this impacted waterway. As part of a coordinated effort, groups focused on water quality, riparian restoration, homeless and at-risk populations, fire reduction, recreation, and economic development are taking a comprehensive approach to addressing issues found in the Bear Creek watershed. Still in the initial phase of the campaign, our current Bear Creek Initiative priorities include:
Background research on local stakeholders and key players;
Identify and analyze previous enhancement efforts;
Attend partner meetings and influence future program direction;
Increase community attention, educate public, and create a positive associate with Bear Creek; and
Highlight water quality findings for the 2019 season.
Bear Creek Events
Get involved in loving your Bear Creek at one of the following events! Click on an image below for more information.
If you want to make a big difference in your community and Bear Creek is calling to you - join our NEW Adopt-a-Greenway program! Rogue Riverkeeper is now the steward for the section of the Bear Creek Greenway from Hawthorne Park at E. Main Street to McAndrews Road in Medford. We have partnered with Jackson County Parks to increase our presence and service on Bear Creek. Are you a frequent user of the Bear Creek Greenway? Would you like a fun and active way to give back to the community? Becoming a volunteer on the Greenway is a great way to spend some time on the trail while helping give back to the community.
As an Adopt-a-Greenway volunteer, you will perform minor routine trail maintenance such as cleaning off small debris or picking up trash and looking for more serious hazards or maintenance to report back. We supply grabbers, gloves, bags, and trash drop off locations. There will also be the opportunity to monitor for salmon this fall as we work with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to see if salmon are making their way upriver at the Jackson Street dam. Volunteer once or often - the Rogue River and Bear Creek thank you!
Greenway Improvements in the News
Want more good news about Bear Creek and the greenway? The City of Medford is moving forward with several greenway enhancements including solar lighting, blackberry abatement, sharps containers, and larger trash cans.
Also, the Bear Creek Greenway will now be extended to connect Gold Hill to Rogue River with completion expected at the end of October of this year! Remaining gaps (from Grants Pass to Ashland) include the proposed greenway section from Rogue River to Grants Pass, and from Central Point to Gold Hill.
….Did you know that the extensive work done by Rogue Riverkeeper happens by only three women?! (Well, 2.5 really - one of us is part time.) Oh, and Willy the mascot dog! Please give when you can. Supporting Rogue Riverkeeper at $10 a month for our 10 years of clean water advocacy is the strongest step you can take to ensure clean, safe waterways, healthy fish, and a sustainable future for the organization. For the Rogue!