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Urban stream tour to focus on Oak Creek and unnamed tributary

Urban stream tour to focus on Oak Creek and unnamed tributary

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This year’s urban stream tour comes with a colorful artistic twist.

The June 7 event in the Oak Creek watershed will be accompanied by a 3-D topographical sculpture of the watershed, from its headwaters at McCulloch Peak in the McDonald Forest to its confluence with the Marys River at Avery Park.

The artwork is the creation of Corvallis artist-geologist Marcia Shapiro.

“We’re going to be using this at all four of our (tour) stops,” said Dave Eckert, water action team leader for the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, and one of the tour organizers.

“In the future we’ll use it for presentations. It’s one more tool, a nonvirtual tool. You can touch it and see it, and the colors tell a good story.”

Shapiro, who began the project two months ago, noted the assistance of glass class teacher Nina Bement and Kail Drew of Bullseye Glass of Portland.

“There was way more planning and prep than actual sawing time,” Shapiro said. “And we changed colors at the last minute.”

The layers of color represent the changes of elevation on the tour, and Shapiro and Eckert used the sculpture to explain the path of this year’s tour, the seventh that has been held.

The tour starts on McCulloch Peak in the McDonald forest and also stops at Bald Hill, the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticultural and the Marys River confluence.

“At each stop we’ll show folks what the (watershed) was, what it is and what are some directions we can go in the future. We want people to be thinking this way ... everything is a tradeoff and there can be unforeseen responses.

The tour is free and can be taken on a trolley or by bicycle (see information box). Eckert will be leading the bike tour.

One goal of this year’s tour is to raise awareness of an unnamed tributary of Oak Creek.

The tributary, which is as long as Alder and Mulkey creeks, which also feed into Oak Creek, snakes through Martin Luther King Park, flows south along Walnut Boulevard and joins Oak Creek near Harrison Boulevard.

Eckert and tour organizers are hoping to name it Lamprey Creek after the eel-like fish that spawns in the Oak Creek watershed. Both the city of Corvallis and Benton County will have to sign off on the idea.

The tour is sponsored by the city of Corvallis, the Sierra Club, the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District.

Contact reporter James Day at or 541-758-9542. Follow at or


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