Stream Selfie: Our Eyes on the Water!

Rebecca Shoer, Save Our Streams Coordinator
Elgin Chapter (1)

The Izaak Walton League cares about clean water: from Winter Salt Watch to macroinvertebrate monitoring, we empower folks across the country to become clean water advocates – and our most popular program is Stream Selfie!

The idea is simple: Next time you’re out on a walk or a hike by your favorite stream, snap a photo and send it in via our online platform. From these photos, we’ve assembled an incredible, ever-growing map of waterways across the country and around the world. It’s clear that each of us has a favorite stream or creek! But what can these selfies tell us about the state of our country’s creeks, streams, and rivers?

When our Selfie takers upload a picture, they also answer a few key questions about their stream. Is there any trash? Does the stream flow year-round, or only part of the year? Is the stream monitored? By collecting this information, we’ve started to build a portrait of stream health and prioritize areas that may need some extra help. Today, we’re talking trash!

When most of us think of a stream, we imagine clear water meandering through woods and fields, a safe habitat for fish, macroinvertebrates, and other wildlife. We don’t usually imagine stormwater rushing down street drains, or an urban stream carrying plastic bags into the ocean. But unfortunately, litter is a familiar sight for many of us in rural and urban streams alike.

Trash causes all kinds of problems for stream health – nasty chemicals can leach into the water, and trash can clog waterflow and block up aquatic habitat. By documenting where they see trash, our Stream Selfie takers are reporting important information about how prevalent this problem is across the country. But their work doesn’t stop there: By reporting where trash is a problem, Stream Selfie takers are creating opportunities for their community to take action for clean water!

Thanks to thousands of Selfie takers across the country, now we can see which streams are clogged with trash…

… and we can do something about it! Stream clean-ups are a powerful way to help protect clean water. Grab a trash bag and gloves, and you can take real action for water quality in only an hour or two.

Our Trash Map can help you find a location near you that needs a little love. Know another spot that’s in need of a clean-up? Snap before-and-after Selfies, and show off the fruits of your labor!

Stream Selfie is a great way for you and your family to engage with streams and rivers close to home. Each of us cares about clean water for a different reason – share why clean water matters to you and become a part of our clean water community!

Stream Selfie from Find Us Outside Inc.