Starting tomorrow, various community groups, nonprofits and volunteers will participate in a multitude of projects designed to protect Santa Barbara’s scenic watershed and recognize the annual local “Creek Week,” held from Sept. 25 to Oct. 3.

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Every year, volunteers pledge their time to help local organizations restore the region’s waterways and bring attention to their ecological importance. The events of Creek Week are designed to build a feeling of stewardship.

The week-long event, designed to encourage locals to preserve and protect local creeks, oceans and waterways, is in its 11th consecutive year. Among other sponsors, the week is supported by the City of Goleta, the City Creek Division, Santa Barbara Channel Keeper, and the County of Santa Barbara.

Tomorrow, festivities will kick off with the 26th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day, an international day of action aimed to spread recognition about ocean and coastal conservation through volunteer-led beach cleanups. Cleanup efforts will be held around the county from 9 a.m. to noon tomorrow.

Cameron Benson, the Creek Restoration/Clean Water Program Manager for the City of Santa Barbara, said the week-long program includes activities such as regional hikes or native plant restorations along creek beds.

“We have many special events for this Creek Week.” Benson said. “There’s the special kick-off event, Coastal Cleanup Day, which is a statewide event with cleaning happening all along the coast. The City Creek Division also just finished a project in Oak Park and are planting native plants on the creek banks during Creek Week.”

According to Penny Owens, Education Coordinator at the Santa Barbara Channel Keeper, Creek Week is an important part of maintaining and respecting local creeks and waterways.

However, Owens said, her organization prides itself for hosting beach-cleaning and awareness efforts throughout the county on a consistent basis.

“Our mission is to protect and restore the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds through citizen action, education, field work, and enforcement,” Owens said. “We work on the water and in our community to monitor local waterways, restore aquatic ecosystems, advocate for clean water, enforce environmental laws, and educate and engage citizens in identifying and devising solutions to local water pollution problems.”

Creek Week, Owens said, is just one facet of the Channel Keepers’ duties. In fact, the non-profit runs a program year-round to test the water quality of several beaches and waterways in Goleta and Santa Barbara. This data, is necessary for understanding the cleanliness of streams and creeks in order to plan for future cleaning projects.

“We are working hard to prevent the pollution of our local beaches, waterways and wetlands from urban runoff, sewage spills, agricultural operations, oil and gas production, and large municipal and industrial discharges,” Owens said. “Creek Week is annual community events celebrating our local creeks and beaches to help build awareness and stewardship of the natural riparian treasures of Santa Barbara.”

Carlynn Rose, Human Resources Manager for locally-based eco-friendly clothing retailer Horny Toad Activewear, said her company was excited to participate in the upcoming week.

“Horny Toad has participated for several years in the event,” Rose said. “It is a great way to be active in the community and support organizations that support our environment, our community and our town.”

Students are invited to join in clean-up and preservation efforts throughout the week, culminating in a meeting with the Goleta Stream Team on Sunday Oct. 3. Volunteers are asked to contact the Santa Barbara Channel Keeper in advance to book a training time.