Watershed Protection Alliance

what we do

The Foothill Conservancy has formed the Watershed Protection Alliance to study and address the effects of waste that is generated from homeless encampments along waterways in Amador and Calaveras County

Homeless populations are often counted using a method called point-in-time (PIT) counts, conducted in January. The 2019 PIT count recorded 186 individuals in Calaveras County and 214 in Amador County. These counts are often regarded as inaccurate because the time of year they are conducted and because many individuals do not want to be counted. What is clear is that homelessness is on the rise and is projected to increase because of the dramatic spike in unemployment that resulted from Covid.

Check out our slideshow, featuring photos from recent cleanups around Amador County

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The Team has developed a list of core areas where there are homeless encampments and has began initial outreach. During these events we will be engaging, and enlisting the homeless, when possible.
Trash Removal
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One of the first steps is to remove the accumulations of waste at encampments along streams. We will provide trash bags, gloves, and other supplies to the homeless at a regular interval and develop a coordinated plan to pick up and dispose of waste.
Build relationships
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The Foothill Conservancy hopes to build relationships and trust with the homeless population so we can have healthier communities and cleaner water.

the Foothill Conservancy’s Watershed Protection Alliance partners with ACES Waste Services, Sierra Wind Wellness Recovery Center, and our unhoused neighbors in an effort to preserve the health of our local watersheds. Alongside encampment residents and our generous volunteers, we spend one day per month removing trash from a site.

By helping keep these sites clean, we keep garbage out of the diets of wildlife, keep plastics from breaking down and impacting aquatic organisms, and reduce the amount of generalist predators like coyotes and ravens that are drawn to garbage and can impact nesting birds and other native wildlife.

In addition to our photo monitoring efforts, we also plan to pilot a new stream monitoring program and we continue to explore ways we can improve our program. With homelessness on the rise, the Foothill Conservancy is determined to be a proactive force protecting our local watersheds

Interested in joining the alliance?

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Leslie Smith, Sutter Creek, CA: Raised in Washington State, Leslie is a happy California transplant having moved to Sunny Sutter Creek full time in 2020. As a nascent fly fisher and lifelong skier, she is committed to the natural environment and brings extensive organizational and finance experience to the board from a nearly 40 year career in banking.