The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth played host last week to the Salt River Conservation Collaborative, a group of Kentucky conservation organizations who are working to protect water quality, wildlife habitat, natural areas and farmland in the Salt River watershed while increasing awareness and support for conservation. The SCNs have been involved in this group because of our interest in land conservation, our mission to care for Earth, and our presence in the watershed. Nazareth sits squarely in the center of the watershed: Froman Creek, which runs through Nazareth, is a tributary of Cox Creek, which runs into the Salt River and joins the Ohio River at West Point. The SCNs monitor water quality in the part of Froman Creek that runs through campus. Sisters Rosemarie Kirwan and Kelly O’Mahoney volunteer with the Salt River Watershed Watch, and three times a year collect water quality data from the creek such as pH, temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and the presence of E. coli.
The Salt River Conservation Collaborative (SRCC) is funded by the DendriFund, the Brown-Forman/Brown Family Sustainability Foundation. The foundation is focused on issues related to grain, wood, and water; the SRCC is their water project. Over the past two years, the SRCC has compiled information about land use throughout the watershed in order to create a picture of current and anticipated land use patterns. The watershed contains approximately 1 million people, or 27 percent of the state’s population, and has four counties that are in the state’s top ten for total anticipated population growth (from Projections of Population and Household, 2015-2040, University of Louisville). It is one of the most rapidly urbanizing watersheds in Kentucky. The hope of the SRCC is that they can facilitate the protection of farmland and habitat areas in the watershed.