Environmental Studies

Hands-on work in our local creeks

Since the summer of 1992, students in the Environmental Studies program at PLU have been studying the health of two local watersheds, the Sequalitchew Creek watershed and the Clover Creek watershed.

Sequalitchew Creek flows three miles from Sequalitchew Lake on Fort Lewis, through the City of DuPont, into the southern portion of Puget Sound. Clover Creek flows nine miles from headwaters in the Frederickson area to Steilacoom Lake in Lakewood. The creek system includes the tributaries of Spanaway Creek and the North Fork.

This web site was established to share some of the information gathered during these studies and to provide the community with links to resources about the watersheds.

Clover Creek Project

Clover Creek flows 9 miles from headwaters in the Frederickson area to Steilacoom Lake in Lakewood. The creek system includes the tributaries of Spanaway Creek and the North Fork. Land use in the 60 square mile watershed is diverse, including residential, industrial, agricultural, rural and military.

Students from the Environmental Studies Program at Pacific Lutheran University are participating in an ongoing study of the health of the watershed. This web site was established to share some of the information gathered during the study and to provide the community with links to resources about the watershed.

Clover Creek Indicator Study

Over the past few years, students in the Environmental Methods of Investigation class have conducted a study of the health of the Clover Creek watershed. One result of this study is to identify indicators that reflect the environmental health of Clover Creek watershed. Working from the goals of the stakeholders in the watershed, the students identified aspects that could be monitored that would allow the community to evaluate its progress toward these goals. They gathered data to characterize the entire watershed, including characteristics of the creek (with chemical, biological and physical measurements) as well as information about the human activity in the watershed (land use, population, economic activity). This information was presented to community members as the end of each semester.

What is an indicator?

An indicator is a set of data that allows us to monitor the conditions of the larger system, the watershed. An indicator is used to quantify issues and to make complicated information simple. An effective indicator is:

  • Available at low cost
  • Measurable
  • Credible
  • Easily interpreted
  • Significant
  • Unambiguous

Some examples of indicators that have been developed for various environmental applications, including watershed health, can be found at the following web sites: