Deb and Dave Hiller fell in love over beach trash. To some, this might not sound romantic, but when you’re passionate about the place you live and find shared values in protecting that place, it makes for a great love story.
Dave is a self-proclaimed “litter despiser” and Deb is a “beach baby.” Together they are making Whatcom County a better place to live by volunteering. The Hillers have been married for 15 years and have spent the last 10 years in Birch Bay. “We rooted ourselves in the community right away; Dave joined the Birch Bay Chamber Board and served as the president for two years,” says Deb.
They jumped at the opportunity to become Watershed Watchers and have been actively involved since the very first volunteer training event in 2017. They also participate in Run with the Chums almost every year! “You really need passion; we need people who care. I don’t go anywhere without a garbage bag in my pocket,” says Deb.
The Watershed Watchers program was developed to increase community engagement with water quality issues and provide an avenue for reporting problems. The program provides concerned citizens and environmental stewards with opportunities to reduce stormwater impacts, clean up their community, and protect water quality in the Birch Bay and Terrell Creek watersheds.
There are two main ways to volunteer as a Watershed Watcher:
Report stormwater problems associated with drainage, pollution, erosion, infrastructure, maintenance needs, and illegal dumping.
Adopt-a-Block (or beach!) to help keep your community free of trash and debris.
“I remember attending a volunteer meeting and discussing how everything that lands on the ground within a certain radius of the ocean goes straight into the ocean. This made me consider many things differently, even car washing,” says Deb.
Deb is talking about Stormwater. Stormwater is rain or snow that falls on our roads, parking lots and roof tops. It picks up and carries harmful bacteria from pet waste, oils, dirt and metals on its way to the nearest storm drain, creek, lake or Bay.
Deb loves to inspire the next generation of Watershed Watchers too. “We have actually been training our grandson to pick up litter. When we walk over to the berm and beach we also take a bag to put garbage in. He actually enjoys it.”
"Granny! I found some garbage," says Hache, their 7-year-old grandson, as he climbs on the driftwood in front of the newly-established Birch Bay berm.
The Hillers are ecstatic about the berm project and the positive impacts they are already seeing on the beach. “We are seeing otters, the ocean is acting the way it should be acting, the heron are more prevalent and more eagles too. The berm is fantastic for Birch Bay,” noted Dave.
If you are interested in joining the Hillers as Birch Bay Watershed Watchers, Dave offered this motivation for signing up: “It’s an aesthetics issue, it’s a sound business decision for your community, it improves the health of wildlife, and improves your own health by getting outside and being active. And best of all, it’s a great first date idea!”
Want to learn more about BBWARM and Watershed Watchers? Visit https://www.bbwarm.whatcomcounty.org/