Community Organizing For Watershed Restoration: The Cotati Creek Critters Outreach Program

The Cotati Creek Critters is a watershed group conducting a habitat restoration project along the Laguna de Santa Rosa in Cotati. In June 2005 the group was awarded an Urban Stream Restoration grant from the California Department of Water Resources to involve the local community in planting 2,000 native trees and shrubs along the Laguna de Santa Rosa in Cotati over a two year period. The purpose of the Outreach Program is to recruit volunteers for the planting project and to foster a sense of stewardship in the local community by raising awareness of related issues in the Cotati area. This project embodies the intent of Conservation Psychology to understand and encourage behavior that promotes environmental sustainability. A schedule of presentations was organized for a range of community groups and schools. Community Planting Days were organized for members of the local community with special workdays for specific groups. A questionnaire was circulated among volunteers to evaluate the Outreach Program and discover what participants value most about their experience with the Cotati Creek Critters, in order to continue to engage them and build on the positive support received so far. This paper links these findings to the field of Conservation Psychology. Responses to the Outreach Program and to the survey indicate considerable local support for a project which is seen to be having tangible beneficial effects for the local environment and for building community at a local level.