Field guide creates a stream of money

National sales of a locally written watershed field guide are putting money back into Snohomish County's streams.

The Adopt-A-Stream Foundation says sales of its Streamkeeper's Field Guide are supporting the organization's Streamkeeper Academy, a host of public classes teaching watershed stewardship at the Northwest Stream Center at McCollum Park, between Everett and Mill Creek.

For the past several years, the locally based foundation has raised $15,000 to $30,000 annually from sales of its guide books, mostly led by the Streamkeeper's Field Guide. More than 17,000 copies have been sold since the guide was first published in 1991.

The latest version teams up stream-monitoring methods with comical illustrations by David Horsey, Gary Larson, Tom Toles and other nationally known cartoonists.

The combination offers readers an opportunity to learn how to test water quality in a stream and then protect it from pollution, said Tom Murdoch, who founded the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation in 1985 in Snohomish County and is one of the guide's authors.

"Our influence has become national, largely through the educational materials we produce," Murdoch said. "Our mission is to teach people how to become stewards of their watershed."

In Missouri, the state Department of Natural Resources has used the guide to train more than 2,000 volunteers to sample water quality in streams. Ohio officials also have used the manual to train students to monitor streams.

Dan Bogan of the University of Alaska's Anchorage Environmental and Natural Resources Institute is using the guide to train more than 100 American Indian tribes to make watershed assessments, which then lead to pollution-reduction plans.

"The field guide is something we provide them in training," Bogan said. "There's nothing else comparable out there."

The book walks readers through what a watershed is, how to survey its water-quality and ecology, and how to present data to the public. The classes taught at the Northwest Stream Center focus on the same topics, giving people hands-on experience, Murdoch said.

Though the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation applies for and receives grants, sales of the guide have significantly helped to match grant requirements and underwrite the classes, Murdoch said.

"It's not only a great educational tool for readers, but it's also enabled us to do much, much more," he said.

Christopher Schwarzen: 425-783-0577 or

Adopt-A-Stream Foundation

For more information on the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation or the field guide, call 425-316-8592 or visit