Story last updated at 5/27/2009 - 11:01 am
Montana Creek is hands down one of the finest coho streams in Juneau. In a land of bounty and beauty, Montana Creek stands out for its scenic landscape, excellent sport fishing, and its multi-use recreational values. The creek supports populations of coho, pink, chum salmon, cutthroat trout, and Dolly Varden Char. It has excellent spawning and rearing habitat and is home to bears, river otters, birds, and other wildlife. The Montana Creek watershed is a valuable and important natural asset to this community.
Sadly, hundreds of pounds of garbage is dumped into Montana Creek every year by local residents. Juneau Watershed Partnership (JWP) volunteers have hauled out refrigerators, tractor tires, a basketball hoop, a dishwasher, fishing gear, beer bottles, and many other types of garbage from the creek over the years. Hundreds and hundreds of pounds of garbage is gathered and disposed of each season by the JWP, the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) and other local organizations in an effort to try to keep the creek clean and viable for fish and other wildlife.
"We all live downstream" is a well known saying, but it rings especially true when garbage, debris, toxins and other chemicals that can leech out of this refuse flows out to Gastineau Channel and eventually out to the ocean. We are all at the whim of the water cycle and when we pollute our local waterways this garbage will come back to us somehow - whether it be in our drinking water or in the flesh of the fish we eat.
It is hard to understand why people would purposely drive their garbage to the end of Montana Creek Road and then throw it out in the middle of this picturesque, viable wild salmon watershed. According to the "Keep America Beautiful" Web site, a national non-profit community action and educational organization, they believe that people litter in places where they feel no sense of ownership. They litter where litter has already accumulated and they litter where they perceive others will pick their garbage up.
The Web site also suggests that while litter prevention has to be a community-wide endeavor, that just one person, one business, or one organization can help positively change the attitudes of others in our community about dumping garbage in inappropriate areas.
We want to ask all Juneauites to help us get our neighbors to stop dumping their junk in Montana Creek. You can do this by disposing of your garbage properly, talking with your children about littering, or participating in a local clean-up event. Bring the topic up at a meeting, talk to your co-workers about it, or work with your neighbors to host a community clean-up day. There are many small actions you can to do to help reduce garbage in our community.
A group of concerned citizens, recreational users, agency reps, JWP, CBJ and other local groups were convened last year by Trail Mix, Inc. to work on reducing garbage and illegal ATV use on Montana Creek. The next time you visit Montana Creek, look for new signage that highlights laws that protect our local salmon streams.
It is against the law to drive a motor vehicle through a salmon stream, it is illegal to build new trails without a permit on state land, and it is against the law to dump waste or other garbage near a salmon stream. If you see anyone dumping garbage at Montana Creek, or at any other salmon stream in Juneau, please call the Alaska Wildlife Troopers at 465-4000 or the CBJ at 586-5226.
Thank you for working together to keep our water clean, our salmon healthy and viable and Montana Creek free of garbage and debris.
Executive Director, Juneau Watershed Partnership