New Educational Sign Celebrates Karns Meadow
Though many of us pass by Karns Meadow Park every day, it’s not well known that this wetland system filters more than a quarter of pollutants headed into Flat Creek. There’s a new interpretive sign by artist Katie Christiansen at the corner of Flat Creek Drive and Snow King Avenue that tells the story of the Karns Meadow wetland. Join us at 2:00pm this Wednesday, December 8 for a ribbon-cutting and remarks by Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson and Town of Jackson and Teton Conservation District staff.
“Nestled within Jackson’s bustling valley floor and between habitat-rich hillsides, Karns Meadow is a small but mighty wild area set aside for ecosystem health,” reads the sign. Constructed in 2011, the stormwater treatment ponds on the east side of the meadow capture and treat stormwater runoff from roughly 27% of the town of Jackson, which carries sediment, salts, metals, hydrocarbons, and other pollutants with it. After polluted water moves through the wetland, about 90% of contaminants have been stripped away, significantly improving the water quality of the runoff that enters Flat Creek.
With a grant from the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, a local group including Teton Conservation District, the Town of Jackson, and the Jackson Hole Land Trust set out to highlight the 40-acre treatment wetland hidden in plain sight in the center of town. Floren Poliseo, Director of Public Works for the Town of Jackson, says “The fact that these types of projects were envisioned over a decade ago is a testament to Jackson’s commitment to the ecological resources and habitat that define our region and community character. I hope to integrate more projects that address both human and natural world needs into the Town’s infrastructure systems.”
Artist and naturalist Katie Christiansen was selected to create the captivating sign. Christiansen specializes in creating artful interpretive installations in parks and protected areas across the region. She is also the editor of the recently released book, The Artist’s Field Guide to Yellowstone. “The sign at Karns Meadow presented a unique opportunity to showcase an often overlooked and yet critical natural area in the valley,” says Christiansen. “I hope that the final installation, by beautifully conveying both the ecological and community values of the park, will meaningfully connect people with and encourage continued stewardship of the natural world right before them.”
“The Karns Meadow Stormwater Treatment Wetland exemplifies the community’s work to steward our water resources using the wetland system to benefit water quality and the many species that rely on Flat Creek’s riparian area,” says Carlin Girard, Executive Director at Teton Conservation District. “I am thrilled to help showcase this excellent project because many of our efforts are hidden under streets or on private lands. The biological data being collected on Flat Creek is very encouraging—sensitive species are returning to Flat Creek, and with more improvement projects on the horizon, we are heading in the right direction.”
The installation of this new sign coincides with the 15th anniversary of the original Flat Creek Watershed Management Plan, which set goals to improve Flat Creek by addressing stormwater runoff and stream habitat degradation. Since then, 20 of the 22 objectives outlined in the plan—including the Karns Stormwater Wetland—have been completed. In 2019, Teton Conservation District released a new Flat Creek Watershed Management Plan, which outlines actionable projects and goals for the future. Some of the projects identified in the new plan are already underway, including characterizing the Town of Jackson’s sediment pollution load, implementing overarching stormwater management planning, adding stormwater treatment to untreated portions of underground pipe systems, and treating runoff onsite before it leaves properties.
Here is an image of the sign at the southeast corner of Karns Meadow. Check it out when you pass by and join the Town and Conservation district this Wednesday at 2:00pm for the ribbon cutting!