If you had passed that family on the trail in Fauntleroy Park on Saturday, you might have assumed they were just out for a family walk. Except for the clipboards carried by daughters Estela and Vivian as they walked with dad Eddie and mom Carina…
… and these flags they placed at 10 spots along the trail.
Estela and Vivian, 4th- and 1st-graders at Arbor Heights Elementary, are in their third month of a volunteer project in conjunction with the Fauntleroy Watershed Council. They’re gone out every month to survey the trail – through the watershed of salmon-bearing Fauntleroy Creek – for what visiting dogs left behind. We went along on Saturday afternoon for this month’s survey. Every place they found something, they marked with a flag.
The 10 flags they placed this time were fewer than their first two times (17 and 14). The flags are intended to both warn – one side says “Watch your step!” – and educate. They’re rain-resistant and made from paper, says creek steward Judy Pickens, and are removed two weeks after placement. Pickens’ community-connection work is what got Estela and Vivian involved – their family went to a fall “drumming to call the salmon home” event at her house and asked what they could do to help. They’re also involved with the Salmon in the Schools program at Arbor Heights Elementary, and might present their findings at school as well as to the Watershed Council, which has been tracking this problem since 2004.
So what do they hope to accomplish? Estela says it’s simple – convincing dog owners to pick up after their pets. “We don’t want it to get into the creek … we hope this helps the salmon. And we hope people understand there are things they can do” such as gentle reminders to other parkgoers. The sisters will be doing their part to help – and making a map and list of their findings – through August.