Eric Lambert was chatting after Friday’s unveiling of redesigned watershed signs when a wind gust caused one of the old signs from the mid-1990s to tumble from its easel.
“Down with the old signs!” exclaimed Lambert, an environmental outreach specialist with Clark County’s Clean Water Division.
It will take more than a gust of wind to replace some 250 watershed signs where named streams cross under roads. The work isn’t expected to be completed until sometime in the fall as signs are gradually replaced. Many of the old ones have become faded and damaged after decades in the weather.
The new design was unveiled during a short ceremony Friday at Salmon Creek Regional Park, next to the popular Klineline Pond swimming and fishing hole.
The sign features two salmon on an abstract background of faint blue and white waves. The name of the creek or other waterway is printed in white letters on a green background at the sign’s top, with the name of the larger watershed receiving the same treatment at the bottom.
The public selected that design from three proposals, all of which depicted salmon, both to honor the iconic species and signify its connection with Northwest creeks and rivers.
More than 3,000 people voted over a two-week period in October. The winning design was favored by more than half of those who voted online.
“When I was going to vote,” Clark County Councilor Temple Lentz said, “I had a very hard time choosing since all of them were fantastic.”
Stormwater Partners of Southwest Washington, a coalition of local jurisdictions and organizations including Clark County and the cities of Battle Ground, Camas, Ridgefield, Vancouver and Washougal, received a $121,000 grant from the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board to replace up to 250 signs.
Stormwater Partners provided a $9,800 noncash match to the board’s grant.
“The signs help educate county residents about their local streams and watersheds,” said Councilor Julie Olson. “Studies suggest that watershed education can lead to enhanced sense of stewardship and responsible environmental behaviors.”
Local officials also unveiled a new tag line — “Clean water starts with me” — to emphasize that everyone has a role to play in reducing the harmful effects of polluted storm runoff, which carries dirt, fertilizers, automotive fluids and pet waste into streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.
“It’s kind of the call to action for the campaign,” Lambert said. “We all play a role, and everyone in our community can find something they can do.”
Lambert said most of the new watershed signs are 24 inches wide and 30 inches tall. They will be replaced in all county watersheds, except for the North Fork and East Fork of the Lewis River. The grant did not extend to those two watersheds.
The grant also paid to create an interactive StoryMap, where community members can learn about watersheds and what they can do to protect water quality.