Have you noticed bright blue and orange stencils on the sidewalks of Kelly Avenue and Cache Creek Drive? These icons (see below) trace water flowing beneath your feet as part of the Cache Creek Daylight Project, a partnership between Public Art, Teton Conservation District, and the Town’s Public Works Department.
The Town of Jackson was built at the confluence of two streams: Flat and Cache creeks, but one of them can barely be seen in town. Cache Creek originates in the wilderness and currently runs in three pipes beneath town. It does appear in May and Mike Yokel Parks, but even there, it is only a small percentage of its total flow. Most of Cache Creek runs under Kelly Avenue before reappearing in Karns Meadow and flowing into Flat Creek. This was not always the case though, it was after severe flooding in the 1970s, that the majority of Cache Creek was diverted underground.
The Cache Creek Daylight Project came about with the realization that plenty of current residents have little idea where Cache Creek goes, and that without that knowledge, our community is missing a key piece of information for helping improve water quality. The term “daylighting” is a new approach being used nationwide to draw attention to urban streams and drainages. This project intends to increase public education about stormwater and flood management, inform citizens about what they can do to improve local water quality, and start considerations of possible next steps. Stormwater runoff from the town is a primary source of contamination in Flat Creek as sand, dirt, grit, and oil and gas end up flowing into these bodies of water.
“Our community has a strong connection with Cache Creek on the National Forest, but that appreciation is lost as Cache Creek enters the Town of Jackson and disappears into its subterranean flow-route. We hope this project sheds light on why Cache Creek is absent within the Town and helps invigorate an out-of-the-box conversation about how its ecological and community value might be restored.” – Carlin Girard, TCD Water Resource Specialist & Associate Director
Along with the eye-catching blue and orange stencils on the ground, there are large signs with key messages about the project for people to follow or just happen upon one-by-one. Follow the above-ground path from Cache Creek Drive, down Kelly Avenue, and into Karns Meadow and learn more through Teton Conservation district at: https://www.tetonconservation.org/cachecreek.