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Public Education

CreekSpeak!

Putah Creek Council runs an annual 6-month series of public talks about the history, culture, and nature of our region called CreekSpeak! 

Each year we educate over 100 people about important creek issues. Past topics have included aquatic insects, native fish, farming in the watershed, mercury in Putah Creek, local wildlife, the history of the region, and more. 

If you would like to suggest a talk for an upcoming series, please contact us!

Classroom Projects

We also work in K-8 classrooms to provide hands-on education and occasionally have public workshops and walks.  

Adopt a Flat, 2014

Putah Creek Club, 2014

Salmon in the Classroom, 2014

Winters Trash Project, 2014

Adopt a Flat, 2013

Putah Creek Club, 2013

Public Workshops and Walks

Geology walk, April 2004

Beaver Management, February 2004

Bird Box Building, 2003

Restore Nature Nearby

Dig in!

Enhance local wildlife habitat by volunteering!

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Explore Nature Nearby

Learn about our bio-region and Putah Creek Council... 

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Barbara Kendrick retires from PCC Board after 22 years

Jan 22: 2011: On an unseasonably sunny and warm January Saturday, Barbara Kendrick retired from the Putah Creek Council Board of Directors. The greater community gathered in the barn at the Putah Creek Council headquarters for a potluck and celebration of her dedication and accomplishments.  

Barbara is the longest-serving Board member in Putah Creek Council's history. She is quick to note that she missed the first meeting or two when the Council was forming in 1989, but she's been a major force since that time.

Barbara was in her mid-sixties when she joined the effort to help protect Putah Creek. She owned and ran a horse training facility outside of Davis during that time, and continued to split her time and energy between the two endeavors for a number of years. When the lawsuit began in 1990, she was a constant set of eyes and ears for all the proceedings.

Barbara's life-long friend, Ann Dyer Bennet, was also at the celebration. Ann has also dedicated much time and energy to the Council. They both spoke lovingly about how much Putah Creek Council and the community have improved the creek for local wildlife. Ann recounted coming out of the courthouse for the last time after the suit was settled in favor of PCC and partners. She looked up and saw a "flock" of over 30 Swainson's hawks. She had the feeling that they were there to thank everyone for their support of the creek. "I had never seen anything like it before, and I've never seen anything like it since."

Barbara will be missed for her calm, reasonable, and always positive outlook. Barbara will remain a trusted advisor of Putah Creek Council.

Barbara Kendrick, left. Ann Dyer Bennet, right.

 

Additional photos from the event can be viewed at this link. 

Putah Creek Council and partners win large restoration grant

On October 1, 2010, Putah Creek Council and partner Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee won a $400,000 grant to restore damage caused by illegal "off highway vehicle" trespass. The funds are intended to restore the integrity of habitat along the creek and prevent further trespass. 

The photo below gives you an idea of some of the abuse these riparian (stream-side) areas of Putah Creek have suffered from off-highway vehicles. Click on the photo to see more photos from additional sites to be restored under this contract. 

This is a 3-year project, and will include the installation of:

  • 19 acres of native grassland
  • 1.7 miles native plant hedgerow
  • 400 canopy trees
  • 12 gated access points to deter trespass, while still allowing legal landowner access

 

Funding from this project comes from the California State Parks' Off Highway Vehicle program, which is funded by license fees from off highway vehicle registration. 

To learn more about the project and follow our progress, visit the OHV project page

Soggy, successful stewardship

On December 19, 2010, a group of 7 dedicated, intrepid Putah Creek stewards braved dire weather warnings (and early morning downpours) to attend our last stewardship event of the year. Though prior to the event the rain was hard and steady, most of the morning event was mild--and even sunny. Volunteers got soggy, but thankfully not soaked. Thank you to everyone who helped us at this event. The pictures, the smiles, and the achievement say a lot!

In total, we planted 124 native oaks, shrubs, and grasses at the UC Davis Pedrick Road parking lot. As the plants grow, they will become a barrier for off-highway vehicle trespass, and the will provide habitat for Putah Creek.

Every plant we used was grown in our native plant nursery with help of volunteers.

 
This event was part of our Off-Highway Vehicle project funded by State Parks. Watch our events listings for more opportunities to volunteer on this and other projects.
 
View photos of this event and learn more about this project on the Off-Highway Vehicle Project page, and see the UCD site. 

Weekend of Success, Service

Nearly 20 volunteers joined us February 5 and 6 to plant native plants along Putah Creek as part of our Off Highway Vehicle project. Volunteers of all ages and skill levels enjoyed a sunny, windy weekend planting along the creek banks and riparian areas. 

Volunteer Steve Bonnel of Davis reported that "being able to help restore part of the creek with like minded volunteers was very gratifying. It made me feel more connected with the natural world, as well as making me more aware of the significance of a healthy watershed in our community."

Instead of spending the morning in preparation for Superbowl Sunday, volunteers planted over a dozen species of willow, riparian trees, shrubs, rushes, and sedges along the creek. 

One family, including three children under 10, joined us to enjoy Sunday morning. David Solomon and Denise Odenwalder commented, "We got together with other volunteers from a variety of backgrounds, to plant native vegetation along degraded parts of Putah Creek. The event was very well-organized and as a result we got to see significant results very quickly! That led to a great feeling of accomplishment."

We are very thankful for everyone's service, and we hope to see you out on the creek again soon. The plants are doing very well. 

See the slideshow below for more pictures from the event. More planting events are already scheduled. Please see our events listings for more information. 

 

Nature Outings Needs Your Help

Chances are, if you live in Yolo County, you have had been on a guided "Nature Outing" to learn more about a local natural area: Stebbins Cold Canyon, Bobcat Ranch, and others. Without your support, these important opportunities to connect the public and children with nature could end. 

The following was sent from Jeff Falyn, coordinator of Nature Outings: 


For many years the Nature Outings program at Stebbins Cold Canyon has offered the community opportunities to learn about and explore the natural world.  Thousands of people have participated in diverse outings: from bugs in the night to creek critters, from medicinal herbs to nature outings for kids. 

I have received at least a hundred thank you e-mails from people who have participated in a Nature Outing; people who have shared what being in nature has meant to them.  

One mother recently wrote, 'my eight year old is always go, go, go but recently after attending one of your outings, he stopped abruptly and asked if we could lay under a tree.  I asked him what he was doing and he said, “Mommy, when you’re a Nature Hero you have to stop and look at nature every once in a while." 

With the new state budget being discussed and the university expecting huge cuts, the Nature Outings program is at a crossroads and in need of your support.  

Please contribute to the Nature Outings program.  With your contribution, we will continue to offer diverse and inspiring programming for years to come. 

Even if you have never attended an outing, consider donating so others, especially the young ones, have more opportunities to “stop and look at nature every once in a while.”  

Please do it today.    

Click on this link and it will take you the Stebbins Cold Canyon donation page.

2011 Trans-Berryessa Swim: May 23

 

Lake Berryessa is a great place to enjoy a restful weekend: a dip in the lake, a leisurely paddle around a cove, and casual wildlife watching are commonplace along its shores in the spring and summer.

However, a group of swimmers from Davis and beyond have no intention of leisurely enjoying Berryessa on May 23, 2011—they plan to swim its entire length in an effort to raise funds for Putah Creek Council.

“I was touched by the idea that a local group wanted to raise funds to further Putah Creek Council’s education efforts, and I wanted to join them in a show of support,” Libby Earthman, Executive Director of Putah Creek Council laughed. “It took a while to set in, but I finally realized that they don’t intend to swim a few miles across Berryessa, they are swimming the length of it! I was floored. Berryessa is 16 miles long, almost as long as swimming the English Channel.”

The event, called the 2011 Trans-Berryessa Swim, is the brain child of two Davis locals: Emily Evans and Paul Landes. “To our knowledge no one has swum the entire length of Lake Berryessa.  Emily has been making regular treks to Lake Berryessa for around five years now and it has become a regular staple in her life. She used Lake Berryessa as a training ground for her 21-mile Catalina Channel swims,” said Paul Landes, co-organizer.

Evans and Landes, who saw an opportunity to spend a day with their friends doing what they truly love realized that they could leverage their enthusiasm for swimming and the local environment to raise funds for a worthwhile cause.

Throughout the winter months Evans and Landes swam at the lake even though the water temperature had dipped below 50 degrees. During this period the lake was void of boats and most activities and the wildlife was plentiful. Eagles, deer, otters, falcons and other creatures were spotted on a regular basis. 

“Rarely did a swim day go by when we weren’t amazed and fascinated by the abundance of wildlife in the area. We searched around for a non-profit group that was dedicated to preserving the habitat of the area and our search quickly led to Putah Creek Council,” explained Evans.

Landes and Evans began to invite their friends to participate in the swim even though they doubted anyone else would participate. Word began to spread and now there are nearly 30 people who will make the swim—some as individuals, some as part of a relay team. Swimmers are making the trip from Southern California and all areas in between for this event.

Each swimmer will have a support boat to assist in eating and drinking along the way and to keep an eye out for the safety of the swimmer.  No wet suits will be used during the swim. 

“We are delighted with how well this is turning out, both in terms of the number of swimmers and the success we are already seeing with our fund raising efforts,” said Landes.

If you would like to support this group of swimmers and Putah Creek Council, please see the online contribution page to make a secure donation.

Support PCC at no cost to you!

If you eat, then you likely cook (or someone in your house does!). If you cook, you need groceries. Chances are you buy some of your groceries at a local Nugget Market or Food 4 Less.

Putah Creek Council has partnered with Nugget Market and Food 4 Less to support our education and community stewardship programs. At zero cost to you, you can give 1-4% of your purchases at Nugget Marketplace to Putah Creek Council via the Nugget Scrip Program.

The percentage Nugget donates on your behalf is based on the total amount you spend. For example, if you spend up to $300 in a month, they will donate a total of 1% of your purchases, or $3/ month. If you spend $500 in a month, they donate 1% on the first $300 in purchases, PLUS 2% on purchaes up to $500. This tiered giving system goes up to 4% on purchases over $600. See chart below to see the impact of one family spending $700 per month at Nugget Marketplace. 

Find out how much you can contribute to PCC at no cost to you!

Monthly grocery total at Nugget Donation %

Donation Amount

Annual Contribution
up to $300 1% $3 $3x12 = $36
$300-500 2% $6 $4x12 = $48
$501-$600 3% $3 $3x12 = $36
over $600 4% $4 $4x12 = $48
  TOTAL $14/ month $168/ year

How do you sign up for this fantastic program? It's easy! Just call the PCC office at 530-795-3006, or email (without spaces):  libby @   putahcreekcouncil.  org

We will send you a special card that you register online with Nugget Marketplace, and present each time you shop. 

Can you tell we are thrilled about this opportunity?! 

More information about the program is available at this link. 

Once you sign up, we hope you will consider leaving a comment below to let us--and others--know how easy it was to support PCC in this fashion. 

New Kid's Camp in upper Putah Creek

March 19, 2011

Appeared in Napa Patch, regional services

Kids in Napa County and nearby areas will have a better chance of sleeping under the stars, watching osprey dive for fish or doing rolls in a kayak, thanks to a $1.5 million grant that the California Coastal Conservancy awarded March 17 to the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District to construct an outdoor education camp in eastern Napa County.

Located on the Putah Creek arm of Lake Berryessa, Camp Berryessa will be the first and only public outdoor environmental education camp in Napa County, and will complement a small private facility near Angwin operated by the 4-H Club, and a very rustic camp operated by the Girl Scouts near Mt. Veeder. Camp Berryessa will be located at the same site where the Boy Scouts formerly operated a  camp. That facility was closed in 2004.

“This is a great opportunity to reverse the loss of the scout camp,” noted District Director Dave Finigan, who is also a former Boy Scout leader. “By building a camp that many organizations can share, more people will benefit, and the costs to any one organization should be manageable.”

When the Bureau of Reclamation released the Record of Decision at  Lake Berryessa in 2006, it expressed the desire to see an outdoor education camp established at the site of the former scout camp, provided a local partner would be willing to take the lead in financing, constructing, operating and maintaining the camp. 

The Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District took up the challenge, and has spent the last four years coordinating with Reclamation and working with community groups to develop plans. The District is now in the final stages of negotiating a long-term agreement with Reclamation. 

Last fall the local Mead Foundation awarded a $50,000 seed grant to the District. The District used this seed grant as local matching funds, which then leveraged the $1.5 million Coastal Conservancy grant.

The grant will enable the District to construct the first phase of the camp, which will include approximately 30 tent cabins, campfire amphitheater, swimming area, canoes and kayaks, nature trails, and numerous other activity areas.  Once the basic camp is up and operating, the District will seek funding to complete the campground by adding a central dining and meeting facility. 

The camp is planned to be a living demonstration in sustainable design and operations. It will have the first legally installed composting toilets in Napa County. Gray water from the showers will be used for landscaping and maintaining a native plant nature walk. Solar panels and a small wind turbine will generate all power needs for the camp. Local and recycled building materials will be used as much as possible. Solid waste generation will be minimized through composting and recycling, and by avoiding as much as possible materials and supplies which cannot be either composted or recycled.

“This camp is about kids having fun, of course,” observed park district Director Guy Kay, who represents the Lake Berryessa area. “But it’s a lot more. The future of our county’s agricultural preserve and open space protections depends on the understanding and support of future generations.  There’s no better way to build that understanding and support than by giving kids the chance to get outdoors, get dirty and touch, taste, hear and smell nature.”

Reclamation is making the land for the camp available through the direction of the 2006 Record of Decision. Youth and other non-profit community groups using the site will support the camp through discounted user fees and volunteer labor. When the camp is not being utilized by non-profit users, the camp will be available for other groups at market rates to help subsidize the non-profit use.  According to the feasibility study commissioned by the District, this business model should enable the camp to break even financially while still being affordable to students and groups with limited resources.

The District hopes to start construction late this summer, starting with work on a new wastewater system.  The District is anticipating having the camp open in the fall of 2012.

To find out more about the Napa County Regional Park & Open Space District and Camp Berryessa, check out www.NapaOutdoors.org

Lake Berryessa Swim nets $2,400 for PCC!

In the early hours of Monday, May 23, swimmers from Davis, Oakland, Sacramento, and Irvine began what was to be an all-day swim down the length of Lake Berryessa. The lake is sixteen miles long, nearly the length of the English Channel at Dover.

Most swimmers were part of relay teams of two, three, and six people, but a few swam the entire way solo. Each swimmer was accompanied by a boat carrying a tow rope, snacks and water. Swimmers took breaks about every 30 minutes to eat and drink.

Mother Nature smiled on the event, providing ideal conditions for the swimmers who appreciated the flat water, the 68 degree water temperature, the wind at their backs, and very little boater traffic.

They came for the challenge, the peace of nature, the company of good friends, the fun, and also to support Putah Creek Council.

Emily Evans, who co-organized the race with Paul Landes, expressed her love of Lake Berryessa. After swimming here for many years, appreciating the peace, beauty, and wildlife she’s seen, she felt urged to organize an event in support of the lake and the creek. She chose Putah Creek Council as the beneficiary organization because of Putah Creek Council’s commitment to restoration and education in the Putah Creek watershed.

Though official organizing began last December, it takes a lifetime to prepare for an event like this. “The people who swam today are just heroic,” said Davis Aquatic Masters Adult Competition coach, Stu Kahn. He emphasized their commitment to this event, including months of independent training in Berryessa to acclimate themselves to the unique conditions. He also added, “There’s a high level of insanity that goes along with this.”

The weary and wet athletes emerged to a cheering audience, glowing with sincere admiration for the swimmers. The event ended with a low-key awards ceremony, complete with pizza, beer, and classic mugs from a 1994 “open swim” on Berryessa.

It was clearly evident these swimmers were not ego-driven, but rather, compassionate people who gave their very best in support of a cause they believe in. 

Putah Creek Nature Park, Winters: Project History

Restoration can mean a lot of things: bringing something such as a landscape, a home, or a car back to its original glory. Restoration can also mean simply re-creating function—like restorative surgery—where the outcomes are expected to be better than before intervention, but not in their original condition.

On Putah Creek restoration does not mean bringing the landscape or its vegetation back to a state of pre-European-settlement, but rather improving its condition to where it can most effectively provide for the needs of the humans and wildlife that depend on it.

The restoration project at Winters Putah Creek Nature Park will reform the creek channel on smaller scale, taking into account the current water flows and land use. The project will narrow the flow channel, lower the floodplains, increase flow velocity, and restore the connection of the creek to its floodplains.

The project will also greatly enhance public access to public land. On the south bank, public land spans the distance between the Winters Car Bridge to the west and the Interstate 505 bridge to the east. On the north bank public land spans between the car bridge to the eastern edge of the housing development off of Creekside Way.

Walking trails will be created on both the north and south banks. As part of this project a seasonal walking path will be created along the south bank from the Car Bridge to 505, and a separate project will construct a paved path on the upper north bank terrace between downtown and the Creekside Way development.

The walking trails are possible because the restoration project will create new floodplains on both sides of the channel the by narrowing the channel along much of this distance. The new channel will be about 30 feet wide, with alternating pools, riffles, and runs, and it will meander through the Park.  Invasive species including eucalyptus, Himalayan blackberry, arundo, and tamarisk will be removed and native species will be planted in their place. 

Selecting Priorities: Winters Putah Creek Park

In 2004 the Winters community began a series of meetings to identify priority projects for the lower 30 miles of Putah Creek. The community identified the Putah Creek Nature Park restoration project as the highest priority.

Winters residents want to see fewer weeds, better access to the creek, less trash, and greater access to public lands.

If wildlife could vote, they would have voiced a preference for more habitat, fewer invasive plant and animal species, lower water temperature, and more gravel in the creek. See photo above of the gravel along Putah Creek, now trapped behind two dams. 

The restoration project is designed to address the needs of both humans and wildlife.

Winters Putah Creek Nature Park has fewer bird species than other nearby areas, especially birds which depend on the streamside area for nesting. The Park has the fewest species of streamside-nesting birds of all sites studied on the creek—from Monticello Dam to Yolo Bypass.

According to UC Davis’ Dr. Andy Engilis, curator of the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, just upstream of Winters Putah Creek Nature Park at Dry Creek, the diversity of bird species is the highest of anywhere on the lower 30 miles of creek.

In other words, Putah Creek can support an immense variety of species; but they are unable to use the habitat in the Winters Putah Creek Nature Park.

The excess of stagnant water, lack of shade, lack of continuous floodplains, and prevalence of foreign vegetation has created a place with diminished abundance of wildlife.

Native animals that disperse into Winters Putah Creek Park find less food and shelter due to the poor quality of habitat.

Humans also have little access to the creek near Winters. The banks are so steep they prevent all but the most agile people from accessing the water. Weeds like Himalayan blackberry are thick and limit one’s ability to walk along the creek to the old percolation pond area on the south bank. 

On the north side, the floodplain vanishes into a steep bank about 800 feet downstream of the Car Bridge. On the south side, the floodplain ends where the percolation dam was, and there are no floodplains for more than a thousand feet downstream of the percolation pond area. 

Steep banks along Putah Creek Road prevent access to the water in this stretch.

By narrowing the channel the project will create more floodplain—a floodplain that will be planted with native trees and plants, have meandering foot trails, and will create an area that is more accessible to a greater range of humans and wildlife.

Flood and Dams--Impacts and Lessons Learned

Putah Creek flooding before the Monticello Dam

Putah Creek was once a very flood-prone system, with storm flows reaching almost 375,000 gallons per second (50,000 cfs) once every five years.  With Monticello Dam, current peak storm flows rarely exceed 74,500 gallons per second (10,000 cfs) because 90% of the watershed is upstream of Monticello Dam.

Dams and gravel: Water is not the only thing retained behind the dam. The dam also traps gravels and cobble, leaving the creek with little ability to replenish its supply. Gravel and cobble are critical for insects, the base of the food chain, and as fish spawning habitat.

The completion of Monticello and Putah Diversion dams severely limit the creek’s ability to move gravel and cobble downstream. However, gravel mining continued in some areas after dam construction. The pools created by mining were are longer filled by natural processes.

Levees: Putah Creek used to flow near downtown Davis in what is now the UC Davis Arboretum channel, but early settlers began the process of moving it south of town to its current channel in 1871, a project finished off with levees by the Army Corps of Engineers in the late 1940s. 

Channel straightening: The Putah Creek streambed and channel have been straightened by a number of groups.Settlers needed a way to keep Davis and surrounding farm lands from flooding, so they constructed a wide, straight channel south of Davis and moved the creek into it.

Straightening the channel for flood conveyance also occurred at various locations upstream.

Straightening the channel alters the way the water’s energy impacts the channel. For comparison, when we climb a hill in our car we travel what are known as switchbacks: the curves in the road which make our journey a little longer, but make the road between the top and bottom less steep and ensure a controlled descent.

Taking the curves out of Putah Creek was like removing a road’s switchbacks—it made essentially made the creek steeper as it made its way to the Sacramento River.

This slightly steeper channel caused water to flow faster and with greater force.  The base of the Railroad Bridge in Winters reveals three feet of rough-poured concrete which was originally below ground. This indicates the channel has dug itself down three feet since 1906 when the bridge was built, caused in large part because of channel straightening downstream.   

Vegetation removal: Putah Creek has also had a lot of vegetation removal.Until the 1950s, the Army Corps of Engineers removed most vegetation from Putah Creek’s banks to enhance flood capacity, not realizing the impact this would have on erosion to the streambed. In addition to increased erosion, the bare banks became a haven for introduced species, such as arundo, eucalyptus, and tree of heaven.

Invasive plants: With the removal of native vegetation, invasive weeds were able to establish along the creek. Himalayan blackberry and arundo (false bamboo) trap sediment in high flows, and form hard areas which deflect, or push back, storm flows which hit them. They don’t react to storm flows the same way native vegetation does.

Unlike our native streamside vegetation loses its leaves in the winter and is flexible enough to bow over during high flow, invasive weeds such as arundo are rigid. This can both trap sediment, and cause erosion by diverting the flow of water onto the bank. 

Evergreen streamside weeds are particularly problematic.  Leaves increase flow resistance, slowing floodwaters and robbing water of the energy necessary to transport fine sediment downstream.  As sediment accumulates at the base of blackberries and arundo, the floodplains grow higher above the creek, making it hard for native seedlings whose roots seek water before the summer heat returns.

Putah Creek Nature Park as a Place for Wildlife and Humans

When water enters Putah Creek Nature Park, it enters a deep old gravel pit, slows down, and warms up due to the lack of movement and shade.  Just as a warm soda has fewer bubbles than a cool soda, warm water has less oxygen. Warm water is less productive for native wildlife, in part because the bubbles—or dissolved oxygen which fish and insects breathe—are critical to their survival.

The excessively wide and deep form of the channel is a double-whammy for water temperature.  The width increases exposure to the sun, while the depth decreases flow velocity so the water stays in the warm pool for a longer time. 

The narrowed, shallower channel created by the Realignment Project will increase flow, thus increasing bubbles and dissolved oxygen and reduce warming time. The narrowed channel will allow a full canopy of trees to branch out over the channel, fully shading the water to limit solar warm up.

The narrowed channel will also help move gravels downstream from Putah Creek’s confluence with Dry Creek. Dry Creek is furthest downstream tributary to Putah Creek, and a critical source of gravel for the creek since nearly all other gravel sources are trapped behind dams.

The influx of gravel will provide places for native aquatic insects to reproduce, and will provide spawning habitat for fish, including salmon. This project will help ensure the gravels make it downstream to areas they can be utilized by fish and insects

Once the project is complete, it will also provide more habitat for native fish. Fish need places to hide, feed, and spawn. The project will install rock structures, called weirs, and walnut root wads in the channel to help create habitat where fish can hide, and help diversify the under-water structure available to aquatic wildlife.

Local residents and visitors will also benefit from the project. The project includes 2,400 feet of 10-foot-wide nature trail on the north bank. The paved trail will allow bikes, pedestrians, and emergency access by authorized personnel. Additional foot trails along the newly created banks will be accessible during low-flow months. The south bank will have a gravel walking trail from the Car Bridge to the Interstate 505 bridge.

The long term vision is to have an additional pedestrian bridge downstream of the existing pedestrian bridge, making a loop trail through the park. There is currently no funding for an additional bridge, but the trails on both the north and south bank provide the first elements of making this vision a reality.

Major project funders include California Natural Resources Agency: River Parkways program via propositions 50 and 84 (clean water and parks bonds). 

Monarchs among us

Arthur Shapiro's CreekSpeak in May, 2011, focused on butterflies of California. One butterfly, the charasmatic monarch, has become scarce in our region. I spotted a monarch chrysalys on a milk weed last month, and Center for Land Based Learning Staff spotted adults fluttering around late last week. 

Though not endangered, they have become rare in our region, and seeing them here at our office has felt like a good omen. To view the butterflies and the one chrysalys we watched hatch, follow this link...

The photos of yesterday's chrysalys hatching, captured using a time-lapse camera are at this link.

WE DID IT! We secured the matching gift!

UDATE September 22, 2011: We did it!! When a Winters family presented a challenge to our community, the community responded en-masse with outstanding generosity. To date, we have recieved $3,405 in matching funds in response to our request.

Thank you to everyone who so generously donated to this important community event. We are not exaggerating when we say that we could not do this--the cleanup, the matching gifts, the jubilation--without you. Thank you!!!

****

A local Winters family offered a $500 matching gift, if we can raise $1,000 from our community by September 30, 2011. If you are able to help us achieve this goal and take advantage of this generous offer, please paste the link below into your browser window:

http://www.putahcreekcouncil.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=3 

Thank you for helping us make the Putah Creek Cleanup possible!

Fish Rescue Complete--THANKS!

We have finished rescueing fish from the restoration project area. Thank you to eveyone who helped! 

Below are links to various photographers' pictures to see what we found, and some of the amazing volunteers who helped:

http://www.watershedportal.net/gallery/album14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEHR site update

The oversight for community participation in cleaning up the UC Davis "Laboratory for Energy-Related Health Research" (LEHR site) has shifted to the US EPA, Region 9. 

The LEHR site is on the south fork of Putah Creek just east of Old Davis Rd. It is a Superfund site due to past research activities and associated disposal, as well as numerous historical un-lined landfills. The site is actively polluting ground water in the area.

The Department of Energy and UC Davis are responsible for cleanup.

The US EPA contacted Putah Creek Council to help spread the word that they seek increased public participation in this process. Please download the flyer at this link, and contact David Cooper, US EPA, to learn how you can be involved and kept informed...Telephone: (415) 972-3245...Email: cooper.david@epa.gov

Volunteers plant 100 trees

On November 19 and 20, over 30 volunteers joined Putah Creek Council to plant along the recently completed channel in Winters. The project narrowed the channel between most of Winters Car Bridge and I505, and literally created acres of land for new trees.

Afterwords the young lady pictured at right gave a ringing endorsement of the results of the Putah Creek channel realignment project. "Planting trees here is really fun. It's beautiful, and now it looks like a creek! It's good to be able to walk along Putah Creek because there are not so many weeds."

Families and friends joined forces to plant alder, four species of willow, cottonwood, box elder, and Oregon ash along Putah Creek. The soil was drier than anticipated, so volunteers had to work extra hard to get holes deep enough to accomidate the trees. 

Thank you to everyone who helped out during the events. We hope to see you all again soon! See our upcoming events section to join us for our next events. 

Photos from the weekend are below. 

Soda caps kill birds

It's not often that we re-publish national news, but this NPR report hits too close to home to not mention it.

Every year we pull tons of trash (literally) from Putah Creek, including items as large as pianos and as small as cigarette butts. We often encourage folks to be creek and ocean heros by looking for small items which can be ingested by wildlife, and today we heard more about why even these small items are really important. 

Follow this link to learn about how up to one-third of Albatross chicks die on Midway Atoll, many from being mistakenly fed plastic bits by their parents. 

Scientists have documented how water which leaves local California creeks brings with it trash and plastics which collect in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Garbage Patch. Most of the plastic which ends up in the bellies of these birds comes from inland sources, sources like Putah Creek. Litter in street gutters gets washed into the Pacific Ocean via local creeks which recieve water from storm drains and road-side ditches. All creeks eventually lead to the ocean. 

This is depressing, yes, but we have the ability to stem the tide of plastic. 

If you are old enough to read this, you are capable of using less plastic.

Plastic is a choice. 

Watershed Wonders Tours, 2012

Please join us for one of Putah Creek Council’s Watershed Wonders.  These educational activities explore the people and places that make Putah Creek and its community special.  Each trip will be led by a generous Putah Creek expert and hosted by a PCC Board member.  Ticket sales kick off at the member appreciation event on January 29th.  

Those unable to register online can contact the Board member host (numbers listed on each event's page) to arrange payment by check. 

 

April is Plant the Park Month!

April is Plant the Park Month at Winters Putah Creek Park. We have 20 events planned to help re-vegetate Winters Putah Creek Park following a massive restoration effort this past fall

We will have 100s of volunteers contributing 1000s of hours of time to protecting, enhancing, and beautifing the park....Be part of this community effort!

See our calendar to view and sign up for specific events, and post our flyer around your place of business! 

Putah Creek Streamkeeper Wins Award

[Reposted from Salmonid Restoration Federation, Redway, CA]
 
Salmonid Restoration Federation Presents Restorationist of the Year Award to Rich Marovich, Putah Creek Streamkeeper.
 
The Salmonid Restoration Federation hosted its 30th Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference this April in Davis, California. SRF’s Salmonid Restoration Conference has grown from its humble beginnings in 1986 to the largest salmon restoration conference on the West Coast. This year’s conference was a spectacular success, attracting almost 600 salmon biologists, watershed restorationists, federal, state and local agency personnel, tribal members, watershed stewards and organizers.
 
Each year SRF awards a particularly inspiring member of the restoration field with the Restorationist of the Year Award, in acknowledgement of their dedicated service to protecting and restoring their local watersheds. This year SRF was very proud to give this award to Rich Marovich, Putah Creek Streamkeeper.
 
Rich Marovich is known throughout the Putah Creek watershed and beyond for his kind disposition, outstanding work ethic, and unparalleled project success. Marovich has served as the Putah Creek Streamkeeper for Solano County Water Agency since 2000. He has enjoyed great success in the position and secured over $10 million in grant funding to protect and enhance Putah Creek. Ever humble, Marovich is quick to give other collaborators ample credit for their participation in collaborative partnerships, and speaks effusively about the importance of community involvement.
 
Libby Earthman, Executive Director of Putah Creek Council and project partner with Marovich’s organization said, “Rich is fantastic to work with. He is generous with his time, expertise, and eager to support everyone’s success. His expertise in a diversity of subject is truly remarkable. He’s an amazing human being and very deserving of this honor.” Earthman adds, “He’s unbelievably busy, but he always manages to find time to come to our volunteer planting events. He loves interacting with volunteers and sharing his knowledge and passion with community members.”
 
SRF would like to thank Rich Marovich for his passionate commitment to and inspiring work on behalf of Putah Creek and congratulate him on joining the esteemed ranks of Restorationists of the Year.
 
 

Measuring success

Every now and again it's good to reflect on some of the amazing work achieved in the past year by PCC volunteers. The gal at right was moved by the joy of building habitat-protection fencing last weekend, and her enthusiasm is reflective of how delighted others have recently felt, too.

Since August, 2011, we've enjoyed:

  • 451 different volunteers who helped replant 
  • Winters Putah Creek Park along one mile of channel restoration. One in particular, pictured at right, now has PCC 'volunteer' business cards since he volunteers 30+ hours a week with us
  • 166 different volunteers who have helped block off- highway vehicle trespass on Putah Creek while building wildlife habitat
  • 242 different volunteers who helped at our native plant nursery (they grew the plants for our other projects!)
  • 350 'Helping Hands' Mormon volunteers who weeded, planted, mulched, and built a barrier along Putah Creek in April, 2012

During the past 10 months, Putah Creek Council volunteers have built nearly a mile of post-and-cable barrier to protect vulnerable habitats, planted over 8,500 native plants, and planted the seeds and cared for our 1/4-acre nursery which grows the plants for all our projects.  Some volunteers join for 1 or 2 events, some folks come to dozens.

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered and supported this effort.

 
 

We need your input

Putah Creek Council seeks your input! We can measure the number of plants we put in the ground, the number of volunteers who help, and the number of people educated, but what we can't measure (without your help!) is what you THINK about the job we do.

We want to hear from you.

We want to know what you like, what you wish we could do, what inspires you. 

Take a minute to fill out our 6-question survey.

Thanks in advance.

Local Conservation Jobs

There are currently three restoration/ conservation jobs locally available, all with close partners of Putah Creek Council.

The first is with Solano Resource Conservation District as a restoration project manager. Deadline to apply is July 1, 2012

The second is with Solano County Water Agency as a water resources technician. Deadline to apply is July 6, 2012 at noon

The third is with the Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Area as the program director

These are professional-level jobs with groups we work with regularly and regard highly. If you are qualified and a good fit, they are fantastic opportunities to work in our region on challenging, interesting projects. 

Participate: Red Fox Survey

Red foxes in the Sacramento Valley were long thought to be non-native; however, genetic testing in 2005 conducted by UC Davis revealed that these foxes were native to the region and potentially in decline. In 2007, a website was set up for the public to report sightings of Sacramento Valley red foxes.

Now, Master's Student Amy Brasch of Victoria University of Wellington is assessing: (1) how effective public input was on locating the foxes and (2) how the website can be improved for future conservation efforts. You are invited to share your opinions regarding red foxes and the fox sighting website in a brief 5-minute survey located on the fox sighting website

The results of this survey will enhance the website as well as develop a better understanding of how effective public input is on locating Sacramento Valley red foxes.

Matching Gift Challenge--Putah Creek Cleanup

Each year we turn to our members and friends to help put on our largest event of the year: the fall Putah Creek Cleanup. 

Click on this link, or the picture at right, to make a donation to help support this important day of community and environmental action. 

Creek's Up!

On my walk this morning, I found that the un-named, tiny tributary to Dry Creek near my house was gushing milk-chocolate-brown water. I have only seen Dry Creek flowing one time in 5 years, so I was eager to see what Dry Creek looked like.

Dry Creek did not disappoint. 

It was high, but thankfully not so high that it was threatening to undermine banks. The rock work done in the early 2000s to stablize the channel and direct the flows into the center of the channel were functioning well, and the gravel bars near the junction of Dry Creek and Putah Creek were nearly underwater.

 

Hopefully the rains this weekend will mobilize the Dry Creek gravel into Putah Creek. These storms will start to answer questions we've had about how well the new channel in Winters will move gravel throughout Putah Creek. (See longer write up about this concept here).

Putah Creek was also higher this morning, about 9x higher than just 24 hours ago. Most of the plants volunteers have installed over the 

past year were under water, at least partially. 

The storms are timed perfectly with the removal of Los Rios Check Dam on Putah Creek near the Yolo Bypass. If salmon are waiting to get into Putah Creek, the extra water will help them get above barriers and should signal them to migrate upstream.

We'll let you know if anyone reports a sighting! 

Public Comments on North Davis Channel

We have already recieved a lot of comments from the community about project ideas for the North Davis Channel. They can be found below. 

Comments which have come in over email are not published below, unless the writer requested they be made public. 

PLEASE ADD YOUR COMMENT AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE. 

Problems with this site? Please call: 530-795-3006

HOW TO UNDERSTAND THESE COMMENTS: The comments are grouped by topic. When one person submitted multiple comments on one topic, those comments are grouped together below, with a * to denote when the comment moves from one card to the next. When the note takers had to paraphrase a comment or question during the meeting, it is noted below.

Comments were not edited, and are presented as written.  


 

Other--Comments

  • We love the channel--thanks for your efforts!
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Still want the area to be open for dog walking (comment reiterated 3 times)
  • I agree with one person’s comment - dogs nust be continued to be allowed. 
  • The most common recreational use seems to be dog walking--how will that activity be impacted by this project? Recently there have been “issues” w Army Corps regarding riparian habitat and their interaction with flood control priorities. Do those concerns play any role in this project?
  • The Northstar Park Greenbelt area has no dog off leash area. It would be nice to have an off leash area. [comment reiterated 2 times]
  • There is no wheelchair accessible spot to let your dog swim in the entire County. It would be nice to have a spot to legally swim your dog. 
  • “Keep par course” Incorporate around them. Keep our experience opportunities. 
  • Start sooner than later: Friends of North Davis Greenbelt
  • The 3 year plan also needs to focus on time after the grant so there is a public community support created. 
  • What you have done regarding Putah Creek has been so exciting - This area has maybe more people in love with places already. Sensitivity needed. 
  • Modest steve Hampton is a genius birder out there all the time in No. Davis and understands habitat. Learn from Friends of West Davis Pond. 
  • I would hate to miss opportunities to work on this project due to scheduling conflicts. Lets have multiple dates for plantings and weeding. 
  • This is a rare area with unfenced access to water. Please keep the access rather than fencing it off for safety. - Please keep existing large trees, even if non-native, if in safe condition. - Please do not remove the exercise stations. We are constantly removing, which is excessively wasteful.  
  • Makes me very nervous when people who don’t the area makes plans before the meetings with people using the area for years. Get habitat advice first__birder. * -Julie Partanski Pond over 100 species of bird come there plus river otters!! every year. Could have common bird identification there. Connect with pond plus have seen racoon and coyotes there.  * The Julie Partanski wildlife pond is a destination and should be included-only one block away - more birds - F St. side huge space needs habitat help- 6 aces? More people at ponds. 
  • Is there a deadline by which the grant money must be spent? 

Other--Questions

  • Did the city have to issue a permit for the project? Was there CEQA review?
  • What will be monitored for the project and who will do it? How will this info be used?

Safety--Questions

  • Have you done an analysis of the effect of the project on flood control?
  • Have you analyzed the effects of the project on fire hazards? What about fire hazard created by the native plants? Will they be mowed? What happens when they dry?
  • Goats! Idea is great. Why can’t we? Let’s talk with the City. TOO MUCH POISON!
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Consider goats or sheep for weed control.
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] When herbicides are to be used, can send out a notice the day ahead with a City hotline.
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Would like to see a sign put up 24 hours in advance of herbicide application.
  • Will grasses be particularly allergenic to those with “seasonal” allergies?
  • Would it be possible to stabilize the levee road -- for example adding a fine gravel so that people who use the path in rainy weather don’t ruin the path? [signed W. P, email address provided]

Safety--Comments

  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Eucalyptus have not been taken care of by City. There are a lot of widowmakers, accidents waiting to happen. Comment was reiterated 3 times by those present.
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Eucalyptus along the asphalt path are a fire hazard. Comment was reiterated 2 times by those present.
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Will the native plants in the channel become a new fire hazard?
  • Will the mosquito population increase?

Channel Design--Comments

  • Will the Almond trees be preserved? Hope so! (and Fig?) : )
  • Deodara cedar planted near chainlink fence, north of Petegrine where bike path turns east. Please conserve this tree!
  • Weed control plan - Erosion control function of grasses should not be overlooked. - Maybe forget restoring grasses and use the funds to focus on woody plants.
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Wants a trail inside the channel. Comment repeated 2 times.
  • Please if you wildflower seed be sure it is native only. Don’t follow Caltran’s example of planting wildflowers along highway 99, many of which are not California native. Dogs on leads only. Free running dogs are already a problem.
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Gene Trapp and JoEllen Ryan started friends of West Davis Ponds. Gary Zamzow helped as well. Together they created butterfly and hummingbird gardens with native plants. Group has wiki page, Facebook page (with 172 likes). Volunteering with the Friends makes the neighborhood really feel like a community. Side note: concern expressed about water level in West Davis Pond. Contact info for Friends of West Davis Pond provided: http://daviswiki.org/Friends_of_west_davis_pond
  • https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofWestPond
  • More shade in hot, hot Davis is always good!
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Please conserve the BMX area for the kids.
  • BMX biking should not be entirely eliminated. It attracts Kids to the area and gives them an opportunity to connect with a natural area, not just a concrete play area as we have in community park. [Signed J. W.]
  • Kids + Dirt Bikes--they are going to do it somewhere so perhaps leave a place for it.
  • BMX possibilities function as a “sanity check” for youth in they can feel free and also welcome, rather than confined/ “wrong”, charting their “own way” with BMX culture.
  • BMX possibilities function as a “sanity check” for youth in they can feel free and also welcome, rather than confined/ “wrong”, charting their “own way” with BMX culture.
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] The design within the channel should be “bomb-proof” , ie: should hold up to rough use by children on bikes.
  • 12 years ago, my daughter learned to walk downhill on the non-turf surface at the steep slpoe access. We need a little challenge in our kids environments.
  • Preserve the cottonwood trees -- plant more!
  • Can existing plantings along asphalt path be lowered and thinned to improve views to the north and west, including the channel, farmland, etc. (And possibly reduce fire dangers). Thanks for considering!
  • I have been advised by Will Marshall, City of Davis, that Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District holds an easement from the City of Davis. Have the approved this project?
  • To maintain conveyance capacity are you obliged to limit hydraulic roughness to some predetermined threshold?
  • Review all existing previous city work (West Ponds) (Wild Horse Burrowing Owl Open Space) for success and failures. Maint. costs and schedules for existing city properties.
  • Punch holes in boundaries, fences, landscape treatments. Every one will know the legal boudary, make it more fluid... [drawing provided which cannot be rendered in comments. Shows a meandering line cutting back and forth across a straight line]
  • “Tree Canopy” (if meant to shade levee Road) may reduce useabilty of this road.
  • -Currently, it takes relatively few days for this road to sun-dry and become highly usable. (I tend to use it 3x/ week for powerful bicycling safety.)
  • Will the flood plain continue to support our meandering bicycling? -this of course (existing path) is fun and challenging--partly because it can run a little rough/ changing.
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] If the eucalyptus trees are removed from the area, bladderpod might be an acceptable alternative floral resource.
  • Do the flood control people know about this? Will they allow trees down there?
  • EUCALYPTUS  - If eucs are removed, they should be replaced w/ plants that bloom in winter to provide an alternative fod source for the many hummingbirds and warblers that depend on them. -best native option would be bladderpod. -we’d need about 10 bladderpod per euc. [from S. H.]
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Consider phased removal of eucalyptus.
  • TREES/ SHRUBS
  • The flowering red and yellow eucalyptus trees in the ditch and near Falcon provide critical bird habitat for warblers, tanagers, orioles, hummingbirds -- probably w/ higher bird use than any other tree species. -also magpie nests. [signed S. H., ‘conducted 10 yrs of bird surveys here]
  • Eucalyptus that complete with oaks should be removed (along the south/ east boundary path) [signed J. W.]
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] Keeping some of the eucalyptus would be preferable.
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] The diseased and damaged eucalyptus could impact the health of the native plants.
  • Photo in the paper showed pampass grass. Start removal please.
  • NO Coyote Bush!! it is ivasive weed. Why not Quail Bush in alkaline area. Contact USDA NRCS plant material center Lockford.

Habitat Garden Design -- Comments
 

  • Why not emphasizing areas to develop that have nothing going on rather than ripping stuff out that is being used.
  • Anderson park near Oriole. Please do not remove workout stations. They are much used and beloved.
  • The current spiderwed park equipment is excellent and well used. Let’s think add rather than remove and add.
  • FENCE - consider removing it [comment repeated by two people]
  • Take out as much of the “lawn” grass area as you can. Pollinator gardens please.
  • [paraphrased by note-taker] We like the parks as they are. They do not need to be changed.
  • Butterfly garden at senda Nueva park. - Good idea. -Put it on the little hill. -Keep existing play structure--they are some of the most popular in Davis.

 

Habitat Garden Design--Comments

  • “Bird Entry Park”--The current seating area covered by roses is terrible. I’ve never seen anyone use it. The structure should definitely be removed. I don’t know what could replace it. Maybe a native bee garden would be cool.
  • I know people whose family time occurs at the Health Beat stations--father and tean/young sons esp. 

Celebrate Mardi Gras, Benefit Putah Creek!

Join the Ecology Graduate Group of UC Davis to celebrate Mardi Gras, and benefit Putah Creek stewardship at the same time! This year's Mardi Gras celebration will feature live music by funk.defied and MaTaterTots.

Need more motivation to celebrate? Proceeds will benefit Putah Creek Council's stewardship and education efforts. 

Hope to see you there!

 

Celebrate 25 years with us!

25 years of community based stewardship. 25 years of community based advocacy. 25 years of residents coming coming together to care for our local creek. 25 years of incredible success. 

The first Putah Creek newsletter was printed in February 1988, and it's worth re-reading. See it at this link. 

The first paragraph reads, "Putah Creek is a source of both joy and frustration. While we take pleasure in its cool green waters, in the luxuriant willows and cottonwoods lining its banks, we cannot help but see the abuses the creek has suffered. It is painful to see streamside litter, the mindless destruction by dirt bikes and vandals, senseless clearing of vegetation, and the inexorable encroachment of choking bamboo, eucalyptus, and tamarisk. Our outrage is increased by the knowledge that Putah Creek's riparian woodland is but a tiny remnant of the vast riparian habitat left on Putah Creek - shouldn't we protect and heal what remains?"

We have made a lot of progress in the past 25 years, from building a legal foundation to protect instream flows (the Putah Creek Accord), removing tons and tons of dumped trash, and continuing to organize our community to rally around Putah Creek through ongoing education and community based stewardship. 

As our projects have gotten bigger in recent years, the Putah Creek Council community has rolled up their sleeves in response to increasing calls for volunteers. Volunteer participation has increased greatly over the past 5 years:

  • 2008 : 200 volunteers
  • 2009: 259 volunteers
  • 2010: 181 volunteers
  • 2011: 465 volunteers
  • 2012: 1,067 volunteers
  • 2013 (first quarter only): 322 volunteers

We have collectively shown that people deeply care for Putah Creek, and are eager to help in every way they can. 

Year 2013 brings our first quarter century to a close. We look forward to celebrating our first 25 years on April 18th with an evening BBQ and potluck, and hope you can join us. For information and to register for the BBQ (so we have enough food for everyone!), please visit this link

 

 

 

 

Draft Plans: Comments

The following were written on comment cards at the March 25 Design Open House, and are presented as written. Community members were encouraged to write comments on cards and share them in the comment box. If you would like to add comments please do so at the bottom of this page. 
  • Eucalyptus trees larger than 5" diameter also need to be removed from the lower ditch. Eucalyptus trees along path that compete with mature oaks need to be removed. Trees in section 4 needs to be thinned. [signed J. W.]
  • Good job listening to all the very varied input
  • Perhaps this wasn't the venue for it, but I hope there's outreach and education being integrated here. Both to inform residents and site vistors of coming changes, but also to extol the benefits of this project after implemented. Maybe some educational stations at regular intervals? Perhaps in conjunctions with the Healthbeat stations....or perhaps a guided nature trail along the channel. Also, any opportunities for nature-themed play structures? The corner of the flood control channel at Bird Entry Park would be a great location for a viewing deck. [map drawn which cannot be rendered here] The views are excellent in both directions.
  • Please don't let the NIMBYs drive the process. Many of them want no additional trees. Please don't let them decide of what will affect many people. Many of us want MORE trees. Thank you. 
  • Make sure the new irrigation system does not adversely affect water pressure, supply for existing needs.
  • The fact that Putah Creek Council managed the highly successful Putah Creek Project at Winters gives us much confidence that they will do a good job with the North Davis Creek Channel Project [signed G. T. and JE. R.]
  • This is an amazing project. You're done an amazing job addressing citizen input. 
  • Please make any interpretive displays nice, not with yucky plastic covers.
  • How about a trail running up and down the SLY/ELY slope? [signed L. C.]
  • 1) I think we should be sure that channel plantings do not impede flow and thereby increase flood risk. 2) The eucalyptus, though near the end of their useful life, do still provide some welcome screening of the north winds and also dust from spring and fall planting of the farm to the north. Other non-deciduous trees are coming along (some of which I donated to the City) but it will take some years.
  • The eucalyptus should be removed and replaced with native trees that would provide better habitat.
  • Glad city will address tree maintenance ("other") re: plant choice and weeding. Eucalyptus need maintenance. Good to have fire Marshall  police, and flood control to review. 
  • Still seems like there are too many trees being planned at 150. --Valley oak has problems as well with seedlings sprouting around area (volunteer trees) and large in size. [signed M.M]
  • Will there be any bike parking?
  • Corner viewing deck at the pocket park would be very desirable with interpretive signs.
  • I and others want more trees! 

Below are comments about the project recieved via email: 
March 28, 2013:
Libby:
Thank you for coordinating the public meeting the other night that allowed us to view plans for the North Davis channel restoration.  It is very important that we take opportunities like this to invest in the ecology of our landscape.  Too often we look at infrastructure from a single purpose perspective and in the process eliminate important elements of the land we live in.  This project offers the opportunity to reclaim some value from native plants, insects, birds and other animals that could thrive in a restored channel.
   
I spent some time discussing concerns about flooding at the F street culverts.  My understanding of the flow patterns for this system is that the reaches to be treated all have greater capacity than the design flow.  Specifically at F street the concern voiced was that vegetation would clog the culverts leading to overbank flows into neighboring housing.  Given that the low points in the channel system fall outside the project area, I do not see how this could arise.  It is true that willows and other vegetation will grow at the upstream side of the culvert, and may need to be cut down periodically.  But it is hard to envision willows thick enough to stop flows from going into the culvert, and even if this happened the flatness of the channel means that the point where water would come out of the channel by overtopping is west of Hwy 113.  The fact that all the housing in this area is placed on built up pads further ensures that house flooding is not likely.  There are also drains into the adjacent agricultural field that could alleviate peak flow, and the fact that F street is below the height of the housing pads means water would flow there first.  If the houses flood it would be from a storm event much greater than anything the channel is designed to address.  These characterizations are confirmed by looking at the FEMA flood hazard maps (https://hazards.fema.gov/femaportal/wps/portal/!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gDCyNfM_OAYGcLA2cjdwMnwwADKADKR2LKmxrD5fHrDgfZh18_WB4HcDTQ9_PIz03Vj9SPMscwxSLABGZKZE5qemJypX5BboRBlkmoIgDulWf9/dl3/d3/L0lJSklna21DU1EhIS9JRGpBQU15QUJFUkNKRXFnLzRGR2dzbzBWdnphOUlBOW9JQSEhLzdfMDgyTTY3UFNDODBDMkcwQjhQNDAwMDAwMDAvOThlWEo0MTE2MDEzMS9zYS52aWV3ZXIuc3VibWl0TWFw/#7_082M67PSC80C2G0B8P40000000 )
None of the channel being considered for this project would likely contribute to flooding of homes.  Flood hazards in the area are driven by other features, such as those that have led to the FEMA zone A designation in the area around the intersection of Hwy 113 and Covell.
There was also some concern about fire hazard being increased by the project.  Currently there is a fire hazard from weed growth in the channel.  The project would likely lower the potential for rapid spread of a ground fire by establishing plants that stay green for a greater part of the fire season.  These plants could burn, but the ability for a fire crew to respond to a spreading fire would be improved with the replacement of the current weedy species with native plants.  The ability for the a fire to use vegetation to “ladder” up into the tree canopy can, and is, similarly being addressed by careful selection and placement of species to minimize these risks.  The fire hazard cannot be eliminated all together, but the design proposed does appear to lessen the risk.
In sum, I applaud the work being done.  I think once this project is in place that the City should consider replanting some of the greenbelt vegetation in this area to make better connections between what will become a valuable resource and our enjoyment of these more open spaces in our community.  Providing connectivity through use of native plants on the green belts will further increase the value of this fine project, and ensure our enjoyment for years to come.
Cordially,
Stefan Lorenzato
[end]
 
April 1, 2013
Thank you and thank you to the team that is developing the North Davis Channel project.  It's great that the Council is building on the good work of neighbors who have planted native vegetation along the channel.  A long term view of the project provides a future of majestic oaks and a diverse understory providing habitat, beauty, learning opportunities, flood control and recreation for our community.  It's good work that you're doing.  The details annoy many people, but please persevere.

Unintended Consequences of Monticello Dam

By Rich Marovich, Putah Creek Streamkeeper
 
Completed in 1957, Monticello Dam reduced flood risk along lower Putah Creek and also solved chronic water shortages in Solano County. It currently provides one of the cheapest and most reliable water supplies in the state. Over 400,000 municipal water users rely on water storage from the Berryessa Reservoir. It irrigates over 70,000 acres of farmland and supplies industrial water users including the Budweiser brewery in Fairfield.
 
The average annual water use is about 200,000 acre feet of 1.6 million acre-feet of storage capacity. Monticello Dam has fundamentally changed the hydrology of lower Putah Creek, providing perennially cold water from the base of the dam that supports a blue ribbon trout fishery and cold water habitat for trout as far downstream as Winters.
 
Although not created or managed for flood control, the dam provides flood management benefits by storing potential flood waters and by attenuating (decreasing and spreading out) peak flood flows.
 
Monticello Dam has also brought undesirable changes to lower Putah Creek by retaining gravel in the upper watershed and reducing the frequency and intensity of channel-cleaning, or scouring, flows.
 
It has also caused rapid down-cutting and widening of all downstream tributary channels. Today, downstream tributary channels are roughly three times wider and three times deeper than they were prior to the dam and they continue to erode in search of a new equilibrium with the main channel of lower Putah Creek.
 
The cause of the accelerated erosion in tributary  channels was a mystery until the Sacramento office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published its November, 1994 report, Hydrology of the City of Winters, California and Lower Putah Creek, Reconnaissance Study. The study concluded that Monticello Dam lowered annual peak water surface elevations (stage heights) on the main channel of Lower Putah Creek by an average of 20 feet.
 
Decreasing the peak water surface elevation on the main channel eliminated the backwater effect of the main channel on tributary flows at the junctions of the tributaries with the main channel. It increased the slope of the water surface as it entered the main channel from the tributaries, creating a nick point (e.g. waterfall): a point of rapid erosion and incision at which a streambed is eroded to a new base level by a stream. These nick points propagated upstream, lowering the bed elevations of all tributary channels.
 
As the tributaries eroded downward, they eventually hit hardpan and then began to widen. On the outside of meander bends, the water flowed to the outside edge of the channel due to centrifugal force. The flow then undermined the banks, causing them to collapse into vertical walls.
 
The widening of tributary channels caused loss of surrounding land including historic buildings and heritage oak trees. The erosion delivered massive loads into Lake Solano, reducing its depth at the lower end from 14 feet in 1959 to about 3 feet today. Until recently, Lake Solano served as a trap for sediments but it is now considered to be sediment neutral. That is, whatever sediments flow into the lake are flushed downstream in high flows, to Lower Putah Creek and Putah South Canal.
 
The fine sediment that continues to move through the system and into Lower Putah Creek tends to plug up the coarser gravels on the floor of the creek, degrading habitat for aquatic insects and fish spawning habitat. Many aquatic organisms including salmon eggs depend on fresh water flowing through gravels on the floor of the creek to provide oxygen and eliminate wastes. Fine sediments reduce the viability of salmon eggs and reduce the diversity of aquatic organisms that can live in the creek.
 
Since Monticello Dam is a permanent feature of our watershed, we cannot undo the effect of water surface elevation changes caused by water storage in peak storm events, but we can help our tributary channels adapt to the change by creating inset floodplains on the tributaries. We can build floodplains within the incised channel especially on the outsides of meander bends to reduce the undercutting and collapse of banks.
 
We can work in the dry tributary channels in late summer, constructing new floodplains and protecting them with rows of boulders that deflect flow away from the bank and toward the center of the channel. Then we can plant native vegetation on the new floodplains to further stabilize the soils and trap sediments in high flows.
 
Work with willing landowners to stabilize eroding stream banks and protect water quality and the quality of downstream habitats is underway on Pleasants Creek thanks to a grant from the State Water Resources Control Board.
 
For more information about Pleasants Creek History, please click here
 
For information about the ongoing restoration work along Pleasants Creek, click here.
 

Report Otter Sightings

Our friends at American River College are collecting data about river otters in the Sacramento Valley. The Sacramento Bee did a write up of the research effort in July (click here to read the article). 

If you'd like to submit a sighting, click this link

Otter in Putah Creek

 

 

 

North Davis Greenbelt Env. Education Areas

Links below will take you to plans drafted, with public input, for each site. The plans below have been approved by the City of Davis, including the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Public comments received during public meetings, and public review, are archived below. 


OVERALL COMMENTS

All comments related to North Davis Environmental Areas, collected in the following ways (comments are in reverse chronological order, by topic):

  1. October 23: public Design Open House meeting
  2. September 10, 14, 16: public meetings along the channel
  3. August 19: public meeting verbal and written comments, plus emails and website comments related to meeting
  4. February 12: public walk along channel: verbal and written comments
  5. February 10: public walk along channel: verbal and written comments
  6. January 15: public meeting verbal and written comments, plus emails and website comments related to meeting

Public Art

  • (Aug 19) Yes. More.
  • (Aug 19) Rotating installations at key locations maybe near sites 1-4 or Spider Web Park. Possibly through UC Davis Landscape Architecture program?
  • (Aug 19) Native American Culture

Recreation

  • (Aug 19) Improve channel assess, esp in areas where it is happening currently in a dangerous way.
  • (Aug 19) Build a bridge over the channel (x2)
  • (Aug 19) Make any trail “bomb proof” and sturdy
  • (Aug 19) Would chairs be an option for seating that would not invite ‘sleeping’? I enjoy sitting

Vegetation

  • (Aug 19) Consider removing turf and replacing with native vegetation, perhaps walkable vegetation (x4)
  • (Aug 19) Replace turf with native turf like alternatives--carex, fescues
  • (Aug 19) At all sites consider removing some of the turf--cut down on watering and replacing with native plants
  • (Aug 19) Are all sites going to emphasize water wise plants? What opportunity exists to enhance project simply by thinning, pruning existing vegetation along bike path? ie: improve visibility
  • [website, Sept 6] Within a diversity of native, drought-tolerant, and pollinator-friendly plantings, include strong massings of similar plants to create themes and reinforce plant associations. Plant thorny and otherwise impenetrable plant species around the perimeter of these massings to create havens for wildlife. 
  • (Jan 15) Take out as much of the “lawn” grass area as you can. Pollinator gardens please.

Fencing

  • (Oct 23) Desire to remove gates entirely to promote access
  • (Aug 19) Move fence from edge to the top of the bank
  • (Aug 19) The fence is not cohesive as it currently is
  • (Feb 12) Access points are already limited, leave them as is
  • (Feb 12) What is the purpose of the fence? Discussion followed, and most agreed it was likely put up by the developer for perceived safety reasons, and the gates were for maintenance access.
  • (Feb 12) Remove all of the fencing, it would not stop a burglar.
  • (Feb 12) If fence limits access to police response, it may serve some safety purpose.
  • (Feb 12) Interest in installing more gates
  • (Feb 10) Concern about increased risk of break ins if there are more openings in the fence.
  • (Feb 10) Consider creating more access points to the channel.
  • (Feb 10) Concern that more openings in the fence would create more access to homes by burglars.
  • (Feb 10) Some feel the channel already has enough openings in the fence, making it attractive to burglars. Burglar concern might be larger in cul de sacs.  
  • (Feb 10) Some feel that improvements, and increased openings in the fence will bring more eyes to the channel, making it safer for everyone.
  • (Feb 10) Remove all of the fencing.
  • (Feb 10) It would be dangerous to not have a fence along the channel during a flood. Concern for kids on bikes expressed.
  • (Feb 10) There is no fencing around parts of the North Davis pond. Why can’t this be the same?
  • (Jan 15) -This is a rare area with unfenced access to water. Please keep the access rather than fencing it off for safety. - Please keep existing large trees, even if non-native, if in safe condition. - Please do not remove the exercise stations. We are constantly removing, which is excessively wasteful.  
  • (Jan 15) Punch holes in boundaries, fences, landscape treatments. Every one will know the legal boudary, make it more fluid... [drawing provided which cannot be rendered in comments. Shows a meandering line cutting back and forth across a straight line]
  • (Jan 15) FENCE - consider removing it [comment repeated by two people]

Education, Signage

  • (Aug 19) Desire for signage at the eastern end, “You are entering this project area…”
  • (Aug 19) Flood control: how is the channel connected to the causeway, include historical information about channel construction, purpose, connection to wetlands, benefits to flood and wildlife
  • (Aug 19) Desire for information  on on old natural system of channels, where they went
  • (Aug 19) Keep signs at places we want people to linger (x2)
  • (Aug 19) How the water system connects to West Davis (upstream) and downstream (to Yolo Bypass, Willow Slough connection). We need a good diagram (see North Davis Pond sign--but it should be better than that one!)
  • (Aug 19) Decide whether to have a few large signs or multiple small ones. Come up with a signage system.
  • (Aug 19) Consider signage at access points indicating walkable path along channel
  • (Aug 19) Would like information on the trees, plants, grasses that are being planted and benefits
  • (Aug 19) Benefits explained related to: water quality, birds, pollinator species
  • (Aug 19) If possible, info on bird species and pollinator species inhabiting the area
  • (Aug 19) Education signage stations for info on: bird walks that a volunteer would lead, how to join a ‘Friends of the Ditch,’ volunteering for clean up and maintenance opportunities
  • (Aug 19) Timeline for context and education: 1) prehistory ~15,000 BP, mega fauna, grasslands, and wetlands; 2) Native American presence and plant usage and riparian zone; 3) Early ag area and irrigation canal -- Yolo Co.; 4) Current Ag; 5) Native plants from wildlife to our own yards to City -- uses in built environment
  • (Aug 19) Monarch/ swallowtail habitat with signage
  • (Aug 19) Another effort: develop web info to educate re: history, purpose, natural history about channel.
  • (Aug 19) Any interest in information the public about how the channel is similar to/ different from a ‘typical’ California stream? eg: source of water, manmade, etc?
  • (Aug 19) For kids (or adults): what animals are present? Which are not? Why? Checklists? Animals? Plants? Fish, etc?
  • (Aug 19) Keep in mind native bee nesting habitat next to pollinator plantings. Natural looking. They need bare dirt.
  • (Aug 19) Need plant ID sign/ station/ garden area to “get to know the plants”
  • [email after Aug 19] I have been buried in other stuff and haven’t been able to think much about this project. But off the top of my head, it is always nice to have placed to sit, but also to get a drink. If there is a way to include drinking fountains that would be nice, maybe even with ground level basins for dogs.    As far as educational stuff, it would be great to have some panels of local birds that we might see using the habitat. Hooking folks into stuff they see gives some instant feedback that helps trigger more interest. Plant identification, and even weed identification with a request to help keep the weeds down (I don’t think we want to go so far as to ask folks to pluck out the weeds, since there will likely be mistakes in id). And of course a little about flood flows, where the flood waters come from and where the water in the channel goes after is zips by the signs, and maybe something about flood adapted plants in the lower channel. Thanks for doing this, stefan
  • [email Aug 17] I just saw your community meeting reminder and though I can't make it to the meeting on Monday due to a work commitment, I did want to make a quick comment. I thought that something nice could be to have nature play structures for children as part of the interpretive areas. Just something small to draw them in and encourage their imagination and enjoyment of the wilder parts of Davis. There are lots of these playgrounds around, usually at early childhood programs or at environmental organizations like Audubon. I have not been to one but have seen them online and thought they looked like they could be something interesting. They are all different, but all include some structures like: stepping stumps, climbing boulders, vegetated tunnel (not sure what that is but sounds cool), sand pits combined with boulders, climbing logs or hollow logs, etc. Anyway, just an idea I wanted to share since you are in the brainstorming stage! A whole playground would be a lot, but maybe some elements would work? Thanks a lot for asking for community input and sorry I can't be at the meeting. Gina Gemignani

Other areas of interest (and comments which address multiple points)

  • (Oct 23) Add a trash can at the north side of the channel for dog waste (12x)
  • Place a pole with dog waste bags at entrances to channel. Boxes with bags are to be resident-filled and maintained.
  • (Aug 19) Desire to keep the greenbelt area feeling wild (3x)
  • (Aug 19) Design elements in a way which will not attract illegal overnight camping [paraphrased by note taker]
  • (Aug 19) Do not promote loitering, especially at night
  • (Aug 19) Add bird and bat houses
  • [website after Aug 19] Steps down into the ditch is a good idea, right now a bit slippery and dangerous. Also consider making it welcoming for bikes down in there. I think they are great and should be included for access. Ditto for dogs off-leash.
  • [email after Aug 19] This note follows-up on the Monday evening meeting. At the meeting, the history and parameters of the North Davis RiparianGreenbelt Project were summarized and reviewed. Three site "opportunities" were also presented for Northstar and Senda Nueva residents, and other persons, to provide input into landscape design, plantings, interpretive or educational signage, benches, viewing structures, meandering paths on the channel side of the fence, and the like. There were few Northstar or Senda Nueva residents in attendance, however, but, I believe, myself and the other Northstar residents present set forth general and specific concerns, which we would like to have become part of the record. General Concerns. Very briefly, we don't want project plantings, benches, structure and signage installations, and fence removal that will create dangers and hamper the flood control function of the channel, create ongoing repair, maintenance and policing problems for the city (there is no money for this), attract litter, graffiti, vandalism and anti-social behaviors, and attract homeless encampments; we are dealing with some of these problems now (e.g., it is reported that drinking parties occur with some frequency on the steps in what has come to be called Spider Web Park in Senda Nueva and at the domino sculpture just south of the park, there is boisterous behavior on the bike path at night, graffiti on the light poles and PAR course signs, empty beer cans and food wrappers on the bike path, especially on the weekends, etc.). We do not want the project to add to or compound these problems. Specific Concerns. These concerns, for we residents along the long, straight, north-south, part of the project between Mockingbird Place and including what has come to be called Bird Entry Park are the creation of structures and benches for viewing the channel, farmland and Vaca Mountains, fence removal or more fence openings for access, a meandering path on the channel side of the fence, and interpretive and educational signage. I mentioned at the meeting that most neighbors along this part of the project want less rather than more; to keep the area wild rather than improved and planted. I also said that if improvements were to be made to this area on the channel side of the fence (e.g., a meandering path was presented as an opportunity), then the second row of eucalyptus trees would require trimming (there are potentially hazardous limbs on some of these trees), and the fallen limbs and brush removed (on this point, Mitch Sears said that the city had committed to the removal of the cotoneaster, only). In addition, I said that we do not want benches installed along this part of the project as we believe it would encourage the homeless, litter, and activities such as partying and other behaviors that we have noticed n other parts of the greenbelt, such as the nature trail over by the Northstar soccer fields - we want this area, our neighborhood, to remain quiet and free from these types of intrusions. Finally, I mentioned that if a meandering path were to be installed, an entrance-exit gate should be installed at Bird Entry Park and that no other fence openings and removals be planned. This would allow for entrance and exit at two places: between Mockingbird and Waxwing Place, the present gate opening, and Bird Entry Park. Other Northstar and Senda Nueva residents may have additional concerns. Finally, I will be out of the country on September 14th and 16th, returning at the end of September, and will not be able to participate in these site visits; I hope other Northstar residents will be able to participate, though. Notwithstanding, I understand that an opportunity fo a final review of the project will be scheduled for mid-October before the final design is submitted for approval to the city council. Thank you for your time and effort on this matter. Bill Kenefick
  • (Feb 10) [written comment card] Address erosion on banks. Make official, frequent enough access points. Keep a little bit of wild. Sounds like fire is a big issue. Would an occasional tree for hawks (which I’ve seen) or other birds be good and not too much of a view barrier or fire danger? Use of ground cover. No mowing expense--also the less fuel, noise to maintain the better. Keep the area natural as possible (something other than a manicured greenbelt).
  • (Feb 10) Don’t change or move the workout stations.
  • (Jan 15) I know people whose family togetherness occurs at the Heath Beat station - father and teen/ young adult sons esp.
  • (Jan 15) Why not emphasizing areas to develop that have nothing going on rather than ripping stuff out that is being used.
  • (Jan 15) Anderson park near Oriole. Please do not remove workout stations. They are much used and beloved.
  • (Jan 15) [paraphrased by note-taker] We like the parks as they are. They do not need to be changed.
  • (email excerpt after Jan 15 meeting) ...There was also talk about changing/creating parks at four different areas adjacent to the water channel.  At many of these locations this would involve removing existing park amenities such as tables, benches, trellises, and exercise stations and replacing them with educational type parks and gardens.   Rather then remove existing improvements, couldn’t these features be implemented at new locations where we add new benefits without losing existing benefits.  For example, perhaps in the empty lot that borders the wildlife area along F street.  Proposals to remove the exercise stations along the walkway ignore the fact that these are used with regularity.  The reason the fence dips down at the intersection of the greenbelt to the ditch is that that is a major access point to the ditch – and it is used both in good weather and inclement (when it is muddy you have to grab ahold of the fence to get out – which is probably why it is leaning!)...Duane and Dorothy Thomson

COMMENTS ABOUT SPECIFIC AREAS

Spiderweb/ Senda Nueva Park

  • (Sept 10) Consider benches that face the channel from top of bank (see plan).
  • (Sept 10) Consider grasses and native planting on either side of lamp posts, balance planting to the west
  • (Sept 10) See hedgerow planting at West Davis Ponds for ideas on native planting.
  • (Sept 10) See Honeybee Haven for ideas on pollinator planting.
  • (Sept 10)  Take out grass, replace with kids exploration area between playground and bike trail (see plan).
  • (Sept 10)  Determine maintenance responsibilities and make sure they do not increase.
  • (Sept 10)  Make “chairs” or “bench” with no back so parents can turn around to see kids playing.
  • (Sept 10)  Include informal paths thru native plantings.
  • (Sept 10)  Desire for clump grasses, such as deergrass, along the bike path leading from channel to park.
  • (Sept 10) Move proposed flowers toward west rather than stopping at the light post.
  • (Sept 10) More plantings along top of bank, headed East.
  • (Sept 10)  Make the interpretation signs interchangeable from year to year.
  • (Sept 10)  Have smart-phone scan points so people can go to website to learn more about current goings-on in the channel.
  • (Sept 10)  Perhaps children’s tiles (like Rainbow City Park).
  • (Sept 10)  Design terraces for children to climb on.
  • (Sept 10)  Perhaps use terraces as plant communities demonstration.
  • (Sept 10) Re-enforce walkways down into channel.
  • (Aug 19) Put a kid’s education and play area at Spider Web Park
  • (Aug 19) Spiderweb Park and Pocket Park could use more places for folks to sit, talk, view
  • (Jan 15) The current spiderweb park equipment is excellent and well used. Let’s think add rather than remove and add.
  • (Jan 15) Butterfly garden at senda Nueva park. - Good idea. -Put it on the little hill. -Keep existing play structure--they are some of the most popular in Davis.

Pocket Park/ Bird Entry Park

  • (Oct 23) Remove turf at the established oaks at Pocket Park. 
  • (Sept 14) Need benches facing west for the sunset.
  • (Sept 14) Keep any view platform simple, better for multiple uses.
  • (Sept 14)  Bird houses good idea.
  • (Sept 14)  Spiffy up bird overhang, repaint.
  • (Sept 14)  Gate in fence = great idea.
  • (Sept 14)  Paving-More interesting natural materials like flagstone (not concrete).                                     Seats-Wood or boulders w/ flat top.
  • (Sept 14)  Flag stone better than concrete – more natural and adjustable.
  • (Sept 14)  Make sure interpretive signs don’t block the view when people are seated.
  • (Sept 14) Good place to make a connection to farmland issues, species that depend on ag. (ie: Swainson’s Hawk).
  • (Sept 14)  Plant list: Salvias, Zauschnerias, Asters, Desert Lavenders, Malvas.
  • (Sept 14)  Remove as much fence as possible, pull back where it must be kept, chain link = ugly.
  • Sept 14)  Wood fence far more attractive.
  • (Sept 14) Add a couple of Buddlejas (Butterfly Bush) and maybe butterflies are happy.\
  • (Sept 14) Plant small shade trees south-west of existing bench on bike trail (Redbud, Dogwood, Toyon).
  • (Sept 14) Expand native planting to the western HealthBeat station instead of leaving turf as is (see plan).
  • (Sept 14) Balance native planting on the eastern top of channel slope with that on west side (see plan).
  • (Sept 14) Keep areas “natural” looking- flagstone, timber, etc.
  • (Sept 14) Existing bench needs shade- add trees between bike path & gazebo 
  • (Sept 14) Remove as much grass as possible:
    • Remove grass on knolls, especially where there is diseased turf, and replace with native shrubs and perenn
    • Leave enough grass in the flat section to play on
  • (Sept 14) OK to add a break in the fence at the southern end of Section 4, leading north from the proposed interpretive area, but don’t place it in obvious view from Anderson Rd.
  • (Sept 14) Preferred plants: Salvias, Asters, CA Fuchsia, etc.
  • (Aug 19) Put a gate at Bird Entry Park so people can access top of bench (x4)
  • (Aug 19) Spiderweb Park and Pocket Park could use more places for folks to sit, talk, view
  • (Aug 19) Turf at Bird Entry Park is not very usable (x2)
  • (Feb 10) Some like the idea of having a bench near Pocket/ Bird Entry Park, especially if there is shade.
  • (Feb 10) If planting is to occur near Pocket/ Bird Entry Park, do it next to the seating area, but leave the areas as is.
  • (Feb 10) If the fence near Pocket/ Bird Entry Park were replaced with a split rail, some feel that’s equivalent to not having a fence at all.
  • (Jan 15) “Bird Entry Park”--The current seating area covered by roses is terrible. I’ve never seen anyone use it. The structure should definitely be removed. I don’t know what could replace it. Maybe a native bee garden would be cool.

Coast Range Views

  • (Sept 14) Love the idea of a parallel nature trail – like North Star.
  • (Sept 14) Little nature trail is nice touch.
  • (Sept 14) Access to top of bank needed near Bird Entry Park.
  • (Sept 14) No trail of decomposed granite through the eucalyptus. Keep it wild. Less is more.
  • (Sept 14) No parallel path
  • o   Eucs are too dangerous to users
  • o   Path would not be observable from streets
  • o   Neighbors disturbed in the evening
  • (Sept 14) Love the ideas of alcoves off-trail at the ends of streets.
  • (Sept 14) “cut outs” at points along Section 4 would seem to be incompatible with a trail through the eucalyptus along the channel length, unless the cut-outs also had access to the upper area.
  • (Sept 14) Consider placing erosion-control sandbags at common access points to/from the channel, similar to what is in place below Bird Entry Park.
  • (Sept 14) Increase pruning efforts/limb up more large branches, especially the interior (channel side) row.
  • (Sept 14) Plant bunch grasses or groundcover on slopes next to bike path.
  • (Sept 14) Move portions of fence over to top of slope.
  • (Sept 14) The existing fence along the southern two-thirds of Section 4 is at the top of a steep slope up from the pavement. It would be awkward or at least challenging to climb up that portion. So, removing the fence would not increase access without also adding steps or ramps.
  • (Sept 14) Moving the entire fence is likely cost-prohibitive.
  • (Sept 14) Add gates in the fence.
  • (Sept 14) First remove the cotoneaster, then consider how much more community members would want to enhance that view
  • (Sept 14) Improve the cleared area near Waxwing.
  • (Aug 19) Make space for special plants in the Coast View area, seating would also be nice so people can sit down and watch the sunset
  • (Aug 19) Put sitting benches along North-South section, but not ones that invite campers
  • (Aug 19) Create a trail along the top of bench in North-South section
  • (Aug 19) Lower the fence in North-South section and or relocate to top of slope
  • (Aug 19) Thin or remove cotoneaster in North-South section, replace with walkable surface of decomposed granite to allow walking among vegetation there

Northstar Connection

  • (Oct 23) Add more trees at healthbeat station
  • (Sept 16) Please continue open access to creek, fence, gate, maybe steps of some kind.
  • (Sept 16) Keep fence open for access up and down from channel and improve access up and down the slope – it is too steep and eroded.
  • (Sept 16) Keep continued access to ditch, (i.e. do not put fence where it is missing now) and add cement sandbags to help with erosion and access.
  • (Sept 16) This site affords great views of the neighboring farmland. Open it up by removing the taller bushes along the fence behind the health beat station and don’t fill the far bank with oak trees.
  • (Sept 16) Why is the water fountain not always functioning
  • (Sept 16) Could we repaint the healthbeat stations the same color as whatever we add? The current paint tends to rub off on my skin.
  • (Sept 16) To improve view, replace fence behind exercise stationwith a shorter and more attractive fence.
  • (Sept 16) Place cement bags down trail into ditch.
  • (Sept 16) See North Star Park arch, art has been included in construction.
  • (Sept 16) Turf alternatives: plantings, demonstration.
  • (Sept 16)  There is room for a native people’s fiber plant garden.
  • (Sept 16) New planting at strip behind HealthBeat station and top of slope. Shade trees for HealthBeat area?
  • (Sept 16) Rain garden could be part of new planting.
  • (Sept 16) Put in more trees for shade on section heading towards F Street.
  • (Sept 16) More benches in shady areas.
  • (Sept 16) Plant trees now and cut down unwanted trees when new trees provide shade.
  • (Sept 16) Plant more trees for shade.
  • (Sept 16) Do not remove big tree on west side.
  • (Sept 16) Leave tree (Australian?) w/ benches around and maybe picnic table. Not keen on mosaic in middle of area.
  • (Sept 16) Use natural features such as boulders, railroad ties, “natural” for children.
  • (Sept 16) Add bike racks at HealthBeat Area 4. Remove or fix odd metal trash can holder.
  • (Sept 16) HealthBeat stations: Can you repaint over the blue at all stations? *Not lead, padding on bars.
  • (Sept 16) Keep Causarina
  • (Aug 19) Improvements to all access at all points (gates and openings) in the fence. Especially steep access on north side at “Northstar Connection”
  • (Aug 19) More shade trees surroundings paths leading to this area
  • (Feb 10) Steps, or perhaps an ADA accessible gate would be good near eastern end

Additional Areas for Consideration

  • (Sept 16) Install a trash can at the F Street end of the greenbelt.
  • (Sept 16) Plants at the F Street area would discourage parking there [parking on or off the road is not allowed there].
  • (Sept 16) Add native plants/trees at F Street entrance to ditch + garbage can. 
  • (Aug 19) Place at garbage can at the east end of the channel at F Street for litter and dog poop (x2)
  • (Aug 19) Request City add dumping garbage can (proposed for F Street) to regular maintenance
  • (Aug 19) Use the bridge to place signs about channel improvements
  • (Feb 10) At the east end, people park in an unmarked area. It is ugly and muddy. Can it be addressed by the project to make it a little nicer, even just with the addition of a trash can?

Help Record the History of PCC

Support our efforts to record the founding voices of the Council. Be part of recording the history of the people who helped make Putah Creek home to these magnificent fish. 

Contribute by clicking on the photo of the Putah Creek Chinook salmon, below. (Photo by Ken Davis, www.creekman.com)

About Putah Creek

(This is placeholder text) The founding meeting of Putah Creek Council took place
Watershed is and Putah Creek (better
on Feb. 3, 1988, with the idea of bringing together people who would protect the creek's remaining riparian habitat and the water level in Putah Creek.
During the summers of 1989 and 1990 the lower creek—a roughly 23-mile stretch from the Solano Diversion Dam to the Putah Creek Sinks in the bypass—- experienced lengthy periods of drying that resulted in substantial fish deaths and a general depression of the overall fish population and consternation on the part of creekside landowners, conservationists.

Test

2008 Fall Cleanup

On Saturday, September 20, 312 volunteers removed 9,540 pounds (4.77 tons) of trash and recyclables from waterways in Yolo County and an estimated 1,500 pounds of trash and recyclables from Solano County.  Some of the most unusual items found were a dryer with a full  load of clothes still in it, a complete toilet, and the bill acceptor to a change machine.

Along Putah Creek, 110 volunteers removed an estimated 1,500 pounds of trash and recyclables from both banks of Putah Creek in Yolo and Solano Counties. 

We would like to thank all the volunteers who gave of their time to cleanup our littered waterways, without you this event would not be possible! 

We'd also like to thank the county coordinators and site captains for their hours spent planning this event.  Special thanks to the Yolo County Central Landfill, Waste 

Management, and Vacaville Sanitary for providing dumpsters and waiving landfill fees and to the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District and the Yolo County Central Landfill for providing water bottles for our volunteers!

Along Putah Creek, we'd like to thank the Cities of Winters and Davis and the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee for their continued support of this event.  The Pizza Factory and Roundtable Pizza in Winters provided generous discounts on pizza for our volunteers.

We hope to see you again next year!

2009 Fall Cleanup

We WON!!! Each year the California Coastal Commission holds a contest to see who finds the most unusual item. Winters volunteers found—and removed--a large portion of a grand piano on the north bank of Putah Creek (see photo at right). To see all of the 2009 photos, click on the photo at right. 

 

2009 Putah Creek Cleanup

  1. 104 volunteers removed trash from Putah Creek between Monticello Dam and Stevenson Bridge
  2. These 104 volunteers removed 6,770 pounds of trash, and 830 pounds of recycling, and over 300 bottles of spray paint from the creek and creek banks
  3. Winters cleanup sites hosted 14 international volunteers from countries including Japan, Liberia, Brazil, and Uzbekistan

Davis Stormwater Ponds Cleanup

  1. 146 volunteers removed trash form 1.5 miles of Davis shoreline around Davis stormwater pounds
  2. Volunteers removed 100 pounds of trash, and 300 pounds of recyclables

2009 Yolo County Results

    407 volunteers worked at 10 sites in Winters, Woodland, Davis, West Sacramento, and Clarksburg
  1. 12,950 pounds of trash and 3,120 pounds of recycling were removed from 18 miles of waterway

2009 California Results (only 65% of sites have reported results thus far. Final numbers will be higher)

  1. 66,550 volunteers
  2. 819,394 pounds of trash removed from inland waterways and beaches
  3. 89,899 pounds of recyclables recovered and recycled.

Again, thank you for your dedication to Putah Creek anf other local waterways. Putah Creek's fish, wildlife, and human inhabitants thank you. The downstream ocean residents send their appreciation as well!

2007 Fall Cleanup

Hard-working cleanup volunteers traded a sunny Saturday morning of leisure for gloves and trash bags to cleanup Putah Creek.  The 60 volunteers who collected over 5,000 pounds of trash at the Putah Creek Clean-up on Saturday, September 15 are helping to make Putah Creek a more beautiful environment for all.

Volunteers from Winters and Davis collected trash at 5 sites along Putah Creek. The sites included Stevenson's Bridge, Yolo Housing, the Winters Putah Creek Nature Park, I-505, and the Farm on Putah Creek properties. Three miles of creek frontage was cleaned-up as part of this event.

The cleanup along Putah Creek was coordinated with both Yolo and Solano Counties and was part of the larger statewide effort by the California Coastal Commission and international effort by the Ocean Conservancy. 

Many thanks to Vacaville Sanitary and Yolo County Waste Management for providing the trash bins and waiving disposal fees and the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and Rich Marovich for driving the "trash truck". We'd like to thank Nugget Markets for providing reusable grocery bags for volunteers, Lester’s Farm Bakery for providing donuts in the morning and the Pizza Factory of Winters for a generous discount on pizza for our lunch celebration.  We would also like to thank the Jelly Belly Candy Company for providing Jelly Belly sample packs, Yolo County Flood Control for providing water and water jugs, Yolo County Public Works for travel mugs, CALFED for sponsoring the Putah Creek Council Community Stewardship Program, and the Coastal Commission and all of its affiliates for making this event possible. 

Special thanks to the City of Winters and Winters Putah Creek Committee for their support of the event.  The cleanup would not have been possible without our site captains who help to plan, organize and carry-out the cleanup event!

Fall 2006 Cleanup

The 2006 fall Putah Creek Cleanup took place on September 17, 2005. The event occurred in cooperation with Yolo County partners, coordinated by Putah Creek Council. 

Fall Cleanup 2005

 

We would like to thank all of the 150 volunteers who removed 3245 pounds of trash and 615 pounds of recyclables from our local waterways in Yolo County.  This effort was part of the statewide Coast and Creek Cleanup Day sponsored by the CA Coastal Commission and the international event sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy.  Statewide, approximately 50,000 volunteers came out to cleanup their waterways on Saturday, September 17.

This year marked the second year that the Yolo County Supervisors have passed a resolution to name the Coast and Creek Cleanup Day our official Yolo County Creek Cleanup Day.  Over 150 volunteers bearing gloves and trash bags scoured the banks of our local creeks and boated through our waterways at 7 sites along Putah Creek, Cache Creek, the Deep Water Ship Channel in West Sacramento and the boat ramp in Clarksburg.  Some of the more unusual items found were a real estate sign, a brightly colored winter jacket, a home theater system and a safe and cash boxes, found floating together near the Port of Sacramento.

This was the 7th annual Coast and Creek Cleanup event organized for Putah Creek and the 14th year that the Putah Creek Council has hosted a cleanup event.  Volunteers along Putah Creek met at four sites in Winters: the Putah Creek Nature Park, Yolo Housing Authority, Fishing Access sites #4 and #5, and Stevenson’s Bridge.  We are very happy to report that we are finding less and less trash at these sites each year! 

Participating volunteers were treated to sport bottles donated by the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, lunch tote bags made of recycled plastic bottles donated by Yolo County and Jelly Belly jellybeans.  Various sites provided breakfast and/or lunch celebrations for their volunteers.  Without the time and effort of hard-working volunteers this event would not be possible.

The Putah Creek Council and the County of Yolo were the lead organizers for Yolo County sites for the 21st Annual Coast and Creek Cleanup.  This event would not have been possible without the support of Yolo County Waste Management and Vacaville Sanitary for providing dumpsters and waiving landfill fees.  We would also like to thank the Jelly Belly Candy Company for providing Jelly Belly sample packs, the County of Yolo for their time and lunch tote donations, Yolo County Flood Control for their time and water bottle donations, CALFED for sponsoring the Adopt-A-Reach program, and the Coastal Commission and all of its affiliates for making this event possible. 

Spring 2005

The Putah Creek Council would like to thank all the volunteers who helped to cleanup Putah Creek on Saturday, April 23. Over a ton of trash and tires were removed from the City of Davis property along Putah Creek off of Mace Blvd. Special thanks to the City of Davis,

 Yolo County Public Works (for waiving landfill fees) and the Captain Planet Club at Davis High School.

In addition to the trash and tires collected near Mace Blvd., over 30 tires were collected along Putah Creek in the vicinity of Winters. The tires, several with wheels were taken by the Vacaville Firestone store for recycling as part of a nationwide Earth Day Cleanup partnership. A few additional tires were too large for Firestone's equipment and were taken at a discount by Les Schwab Tire Center also in Vacaville. The removal of tires is a significant contribution to the health of Putah Creek since waste tires are among the most common solid waste items in the creek channel and disposal is difficult. 

2004 Fall Cleanup

 

Approximately 6 tons of trash and 1,100 pounds of recyclables were removed from local waterways when volunteers came out for the 20 th Annual Coast and Creek Cleanup Day sponsored by the CA Coastal Commission.   This year also marked the first official Yolo County Creek Cleanup Day.   On September 7, Yolo County Supervisors passed a resolution to name the Coast and Creek Cleanup Day our official Yolo County Creek Cleanup Day and encouraged volunteers to come out and help their local waterways.  

 

Over 240 volunteers participated at 8 different sites along Putah Creek, Cache Creek, and the Deep Water Ship Channel in West Sacramento to scour the waterways of Yolo County for trash and recyclables. Children and adults from both Yolo and Solano Counties came together to rid our local creeks of broken beer bottles, plastic bags, old newspapers, aluminum cans, and countless other items that have been thoughtlessly strewn along the creek's banks.   The most unusual items found were a television with a dead fish inside, foam insulation, and various car parts.   A Watershed Fair at Lake Solano with a BBQ, band, and water activities followed the event.

2004 Spring Cleanups

The 2004 spring cleanups on Putah Creek took place on Sunday, April 25 in Davis and Saturday, May 8 in Winters. The Davis cleanup was held from 9:00 am until noon along Putah Creek near Mace Blvd.  The event was a joint project of the Putah Creek Council, City of Davis, Yolo County Public Works and local landowners. The cleanup was followed by celebration activities including pizza for all participants!  The spring cleanup in Winters took place on Saturday, May 8 at the Creekside Way section of the Putah Creek Nature Park.  he cleanup/workday included a trash pickup and a final repair of the irrigation system at Creekside Way.  The workday was held from 9 AM until 1 PM including a pizza lunch.

On Sunday, March 21, 2004 from 10 am until 1 pm volunteers helped to cleanup a portion of Putah Creek near Mace Blvd.  As part of the event, volunteers had the opportunity to tour the site and learn about this City of Davis property and the restoration plans for the area.  The lunchtime tour of the site included a discussion of wildlife species, native plants, and invasive weed species.

The event was hosted by the City of Davis and Putah Creek Council.  Home made snacks were provided by three bronze award scouts, Linnea Ransom, Julia Ainsworth and Cassie Moore who helped in the organization of this event.  The City of Davis and Putah Creek Council would like to thank these scouts and their local Girl Scout Troop 427 for their help. 

2003 Fall Cleanup

6.7 tons of trash and 2.2 tons of recyclables were removed from Putah Creek when volunteers came out on Saturday, September 20th for the 19th Annual Coast and Creek Cleanup Day sponsored by the CA Coastal Commission. Volunteers met at two sites in Winters, the Putah Creek Nature Park downtown and the FARMS/Audubon office at 5265 Putah Creek Road.

Over 140 volunteers participated at 8 different sites to scour Putah Creek for trash and recyclables. Children and adults from both Yolo and Solano Counties came together to rid our local creek of broken beer bottles, plastic bags, old newspapers, aluminum cans, and countless other items that have been thoughtlessly strewn along the creek's banks. Some of the most unusual items found included a toilet seat, kitchen sink, coyote skull, washing machine, mini motorcycle, table saw and a truck camper shell.

Participants in the Putah Creek Cleanup were treated to a breakfast provided by First Northern Bank of Winters with a discount from Town and Country Market and coffee from Starbucks. 95.3 KUIC out of Vacaville helped to sponsor the event and provided free tickets to Six Flags for participating volunteers. Starbucks also helped to sponsor the event as part of their “Make Your Mark” program by donating $10/hour worked to the Coastal Commission for the first 80 volunteers as well as free baseball caps. Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District purchased “Keep CA Waterways Clean” window clings that were given to each participating volunteer along both Putah and Cache Creeks. Local Winters restaurants, Cody’s Delicatessen, Kountry Kitchen, Pizza Factory, and Putah Creek Café, provided discounts on lunch to cleanup participants. Special thanks to all of the site captains along Putah Creek!

The Putah Creek Cleanup was a partnership between Putah Creek Council, Winters Putah Creek Committee, FARMS Leadership Inc., Audubon CA, Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and the City of Winters. Special thanks are extended to all of these organizations, to Vacaville Sanitary and Yolo County Waste Management for providing dumpsters and waiving landfill fees, to Craig McNamara of Sierra Orchards for providing a dump truck and driver, to CALFED for sponsoring the Adopt-A-Reach program, and to the Coastal Commission and all of its affiliates for making this event possible. 

2003 Spring Cleanup

Over 3.5 tons of trash and 28 tires were collected at the Putah Creek Council’s Spring Cleanup on Saturday May 17th. Fifty Volunteers participated in the three-hour long event to beautify Putah Creek and collected tractor tires, rusted oil drums, and various other items. Volunteers worked from Mace Blvd. toward the Yolo Bypass, clearing away trash items along the banks of Putah Creek as well as in the creek itself. At the end of the day, volunteers were rewarded with lunch and prizes for their hard work and dedication to a cleaner and more beautiful environment along Putah Creek.

Valley Oak Seeding, Planting, and Watering

Seeding and Growing the Valley Oaks

Individuals and classes had the opportunity to raise valley oaks from acorns to seedlings. Volunteers helped the Society for Conservation Biology to pot valley oak acorns and schools adopted the oaks to raise for future planting events. Conservation Biology members visited the classes to share their knowledge of oaks and native vegetation.   The classes raised 120 valley oak trees and planted them along the banks of Putah Creek at the UC Davis Riparian.

This project added 120 valley oak seedlings to the 60 that were planted by the Society for Conservation Biology in Spring 2003.  The hope is to return this fire-ravaged site to a native oak savannah.Volunteers have planted 180 valley oak trees along the banks of Putah Creek over the past two years in a collaborative effort with the Putah Creek Council, UCD Riparian Reserve and the Society for Conservation Biology.

Summer Watering and Care

A dedicated group of volunteers have faced sweltering temperatures, ticks and star thistle to help ensure the survival of the valley oak seedlings by watering the trees throughout the hot Davis summers. The first oak seedling planting took place in Spring 2003 and this core group of volunteers has helped to keep the valley oaks alive and thriving by watering them over the past two summers. Your help is needed to water oaks again this summer!

Adopt a Flat: Fall 2007, Winter 2007

We are once again entering the season of creek restoration!  The Putah Creek Council and UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve will be hosting the Adopt-A-Flat Program for the third year. Volunteers with this program raise native grass plugs and return to plant them at the UC Davis Riparian Reserve. Over the past two years, volunteers raised and planted 14,000 native grass plugs.

At the seeding days, PCC and the Riparian Reserve will provide volunteers with native grass seed, trays, soil, and instructions. One seeding day took place on Saturday, October 14 and the next is scheduled for Saturday, November 11. The seeding days will take place from 10:00 AM until noon.

Individuals and classrooms have also been involved with the Adopt-A-Flat project. We are working to develop in-classroom activities for teachers to accompany the grass plug flats. 

If you have a class or multiple classes interested in participating in the program, please contact Dawn Calciano at (530) 795-3006 or dawn@putahcreekcouncil.org so that we can arrange for enough materials for class participation. Alternate seeding and planting dates can also be arranged.

Directions to the site:

  • From Interstate 80 take the Highway 113 exit North toward Woodland.
  • From Highway 113, exit at UC Davis-Hutchison Drive
  • At the stop sign turn left on Hutchison Drive and go 1.4 miles.
  • Turn left (south) onto Hopkins and go to the end.
  • Turn left and park along the road.
  • This is the Alpha Phi Omega Picnic Grounds at the center of the reserve.

Why Native Grasses?

Native grasses, like the ones used in our seed mixes from Hedgerow Farms are well adapted to local environmental conditions.  They evolved with the other plants and animals in the area.  Native grasses help to maintain or improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, and often require less fertilizer. One of the most important reasons, especially for Putah Creek, is that functioning, healthy native grass and plant communities are better able to resist invasive plant species (like arundo and the prickly yellow star thistle). Native plants also provide familiar sources of food and shelter for wildlife.

Here are some highlights of our most-used grasses (thanks to the Yolo County Resource Conservation District “Know Your Natives” guide for this information):

Creeping Wildrye: This tall grass spreads by rhizomes (underground roots that can form new plants), making it good for ero sion control. It lies flat during flooding, so water flows past. It grows on mostly heavy soils in riparian areas and is the most com mon and widespread native grass of the Sacramento Valley. It provides good water fowl and upland game nesting habitat.

Purple needlegrass: Our California state grass, this is well adapted to droughty soils and clay soils. It has a strong root system and establishes well on disturbed areas. It will resprout after spring or fall burns.

Blue Wildrye: This highly variable species is a very tall perennial bunchgrass. It tol erates wide variations in soil and weather conditions. It is good for streambank resto ration and excellent for burned or disturbed areas in oak woodland. It can provide habi tat for mammals, birds, and waterfowl.

Slender Wheatgrass: Adapted to clay soils, this perennial bunchgrass is tall, up­right, and fast growing. It prefers open, sunny areas and is primarily a riparian and wetland grass. It provides habitat for nest ing birds and wildlife and its dense root system allows it to survive most fires. It was used by Native Americans for food.

Additional Information

To download a PDF of the instructions to care for you flat, please click here for the Adopt a Flat Instruction Page

Native grasses included in the seed mix:

  • Purple Needlegrass (Nassella pulchra)
  • Creeping Wildrye (Leymus triticoides)
  • Squirrel Tail (Elymus multisetus)
  • Meadow Barley (Hordeum brachyantherum)
  • Blue Wildrye (Elymus glaucus)
  • Slender Wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus)

 

For more information on native grasses:

 

CA Native Grass Association Know Your Natives: A Pictorial Guide to California Native Grasses (Full color images of seeds, seedlings, mature plants, and seedheads of 20 grass species on heavy glossy stock paper for field use).  Costs $30 and is available by contacting the Yolo Resource Conservation District at (530) 662-2037, ext. 119 or yolorcd@yolorcd.org .

Adopt a Flat: Fall 2004, Winter 2005

It’s the fall again and for all those involved in restoration, it means that rains are coming and the time to plant grasses and trees is near. The Putah Creek Council and UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve were so happy with the volunteer turnout to raise native grass plugs last year that we will be continuing the program this fall. As part of the program last year, you helped raise and plant 8,000 native grass plugs.

At the seeding days, volunteers will be provided with native grass seed, trays, soil, fertilizer and instructions. There are two seeding days scheduled at the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (November 19 and December 17). 

Individuals and classrooms got involved in the Fall 2004/Winter 2005 Adopt-A-Flat project with some students using the grass plugs plantings as the basis for larger environmental projects. Linda Biewer-Elstob’s fifth-sixth grade class from Patwin Elementary used the Adopt-A-Flat program as part of their Jiminy Cricket Environmentality Challenge for which they won 2nd place statewide. They were among 40,000 students in the state of California that participated in the challenge.

Directions to the site:

  • From Interstate 80 take the Highway 113 exit North toward Woodland.
  • From Highway 113, exit at UC Davis-Hutchison Drive
  • At the stop sign turn left on Hutchison Drive and go 1.4 miles.
  • Turn left (south) onto Hopkins and go to the end.
  • Turn left and park along the road.
  • This is the Alpha Phi Omega Picnic Grounds at the center of the reserve.

Why Native Grasses?

Native grasses, like the ones used in our seed mixes from Hedgerow Farms are well adapted to local environmental conditions.  They evolved with the other plants and animals in the area.  Native grasses help to maintain or improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, and often require less fertilizer. One of the most important reasons, especially for Putah Creek, is that functioning, healthy native grass and plant communities are better able to resist invasive plant species (like arundo and the prickly yellow star thistle). Native plants also provide familiar sources of food and shelter for wildlife.

Here are some highlights of our most-used grasses (thanks to the Yolo County Resource Conservation District “Know Your Natives” guide for this information):

Creeping Wildrye: This tall grass spreads by rhizomes (underground roots that can form new plants), making it good for ero sion control. It lies flat during flooding, so water flows past. It grows on mostly heavy soils in riparian areas and is the most com mon and widespread native grass of the Sacramento Valley. It provides good water fowl and upland game nesting habitat.

Purple needlegrass: Our California state grass, this is well adapted to droughty soils and clay soils. It has a strong root system and establishes well on disturbed areas. It will resprout after spring or fall burns.

Blue Wildrye: This highly variable species is a very tall perennial bunchgrass. It tol erates wide variations in soil and weather conditions. It is good for streambank resto ration and excellent for burned or disturbed areas in oak woodland. It can provide habi tat for mammals, birds, and waterfowl.

Slender Wheatgrass: Adapted to clay soils, this perennial bunchgrass is tall, up­right, and fast growing. It prefers open, sunny areas and is primarily a riparian and wetland grass. It provides habitat for nest ing birds and wildlife and its dense root system allows it to survive most fires. It was used by Native Americans for food.

Additional Information

To download a PDF of the instructions to care for you flat, please click here for the Adopt a Flat Instruction Page

Native grasses included in the seed mix:

  • Purple Needlegrass (Nassella pulchra)
  • Creeping Wildrye (Leymus triticoides)
  • Squirrel Tail (Elymus multisetus)
  • Meadow Barley (Hordeum brachyantherum)
  • Blue Wildrye (Elymus glaucus)
  • Slender Wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus)

 

For more information on native grasses:

 

CA Native Grass Association Know Your Natives: A Pictorial Guide to California Native Grasses (Full color images of seeds, seedlings, mature plants, and seedheads of 20 grass species on heavy glossy stock paper for field use).  Costs $30 and is available by contacting the Yolo Resource Conservation District at (530) 662-2037, ext. 119 or yolorcd@yolorcd.org .

Dry Creek: February 23, 2003

Sunday February 23rd was our first restoration day along Dry Creek, one of the primary tributaries of lower Putah Creek, working with a Davis Girl Scout Troop and a private landowner. The Adopt-A-Reach program, in cooperation with California Audubon, the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and the Winters Putah Creek Committee led a workday placing jute mesh to help control bank erosion, planting creeping wild rye grass plugs, the predominant native grass and planting willow and cottonwood stakes along the toe of the bank.

Habitat Planting in Winters: February 1, 2003

Saturday, February 1st was our first planting day of the season in Winters at Creekside

 Way along Putah Creek. Over 25 volunteers attended this event, co-sponsored by the Winters Putah Creek Committee, donating 100 hours, an estimated value of $1,200, and planting over 4,000 grass plugs.

The slideshow below shows pictures from the day of the event. The photo on the right is from a volunteer who visited the site a few years later to visit the trees he planted. 

Habitat Enhancement at UCD Riparian Reserve: January - February 2003

On Saturday January 25th, over 40 volunteers donated 160 hours of volunteer time, an estimated value of $1,900, and planted 6,000 grass plugs at the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve. This area was burned in a wildfire last October and is being replanted as part of the overall management plan for the Reserve. The project was a collaborative effort between the UC Davis Putah Creek Reserve Manager, Andrew Fulks, the Putah Creek Council’s Adopt-A-Reach program, and a number of local student groups (elementary-college).

On Saturday, February 22nd the Adopt-A-Reach program in conjunction with the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve held a second planting day at the Reserve with over 55 volunteers helping to plant willow cuttings and oak seedlings along the creek. This restoration day involved collaborations not only with UC Reserve but also with the Society for Conservation Biology, CalPIRG and an elementary school class from Davis.

Restoration at Vickery Property: December 2003

Ten volunteers helped to stabilize a bank along Putah Creek that was badly eroded in the November storm event. An acre of the bank was seeded with creeping wild rye, a native grass species, and volunteers raked the seed into the soil and spread hay over top to slow down erosion.

Pleasants Creek Restoration Day: 2002

Thirty-five people attended and planted over two thousand willow stakes, distributed seed-rich hay bales, and helped to place straw waddles for erosion control. Rick Poore, geomorphologist with Streamwise, led a talk and tour of the bank stabilization practices he employed at this site. The event was followed by a BBQ for all.

Geology Hike: 2004

Cory Golden, Davis Enterprise attended the event and the following article: 

If Putah Creek is the unexplored back yard, then the geology of the Central Valley is a mystery novel left unread by all but a few.What's underneath our feet -- and why's it's so flat -- is actually just as interesting (as the mountains)," Eldridge Moores, UC Davis professor emeritus of geology, said recently. 


Moores -- recognized nationally both as a booster of geography education and as Pulitzer Prize-winner John McPhee's guide for the book "Assembling California" -- likes to call geology not a mystery novel, but a "historical archive you can read if you learn the language." 

 

That language is geology. 

And on a recent, warmer-than-average Saturday in April, he and Robert Matthews, also a UCD professor emeritus of geology, joined about 45 people for a 3-mile hike along the south side of Putah Creek, between Winters and Lake Berryessa in Solano County. 

The Putah Creek Council sponsored the daylong event, which covered a range of subjects, from everyday uses of the creek to ongoing restoration to a long-view of the area in creeping geologic time that can be hard to fathom.

Dressed in khaki and using grass as a pointer, the bearded Moores explained that the landscape before them was there for a reason -- geology and geologic activity, that it had formed over millions of years and that, right there in the sunlight, they were watching it form and change at the rate it always had. 

Putah Creek, he told the hikers, predated the uplift of the Coastal Range, which began 3 million years ago; the uplift continues today at a rate of one or two millimeters per year, as the Pacific and North American plates rub as they slide past one another. The Coastal Range is also moving slowly east. 

Putah Creek has been able to continue cutting through the rock fast enough to keep flowing. 

Geologists believe the reason the valley is so flat is because it's a big slab of oceanic crust and dense mantle sitting on the edge of the continental plate, Moores explained. The valley rests on a microplate, one that's "stuck" -- or relatively stuck: moving northwestward with the Pacific plate, but even more slowly. 

Moores surveyed the green landscape behind him, seemingly soft, rolling hills that in truth cover rock by a foot or two: 

"If we look off to the slopes off to the north of us, what we see here is Great Valley sediments and these are steeply tilted. They're tilted at about 80 degrees or so ... These rocks in here are about 80-90 million years old," he said. "As you get into the valley, there are some rocks in there that are about 50 million years old, so it's younger. And then up on top (of the ridge) there's a black blob, that's actually an outcrop or close to an outcrop, of some basalt, it's a volcanic rock that's about 15 million years old. 

"Above that you can see some lines up on the hillside that are resistant layers which are tuffs, these are volcanic deposits you can see on the road cuts down over and here and up Pleasants Valley Road ... those are about 1.8 million years old. That's the Putah Tuff, an air-fall deposit that was formed probably by some eruption near the north end of Napa Valley, although the eruptive center has never been found." 

Moores told the group it was important to try to understand the time such movement takes. He suggested the hikers think of one year as one millimeter. 

"All of recorded human history is within the last 10,000 years. Ten thousand years is 10,000 millimeters, that's 10 meters, that's from here down to those logs...," he said. "If you continue on eastward counting off your millimeters, get on Interstate 80, the dinosaurs wipe out at about Sacramento. 

"In order to get all the way to the origin of the earth..., from here you've got to go to Boston." 

The surface of the landscape, Matthews noted, can change all too quickly. 

He talked to the hikers about slides at the site of one of several major ones in the area in January 1998, when Highway 128 was closed in several places. 

The coastal range, Matthew said, is home to in all shapes, sizes and speeds of slides, from slow mud flows to boulders bearing down the like Greyhound buses with the breaks out. 

He talked about how cattle grazing can exacerbate the problem, and how little expensive engineering can do to stop slides. 

In 1906, Matthew said, Cache Creek was dammed by a mudslide before breaking through. To date, about 100 slides have been mapped along that waterway, along with two active fault lines. 

Said Moores, "The moral of the story is, don't put a dam there." 

The land where the geology hike took place is part of three parcels totaling 526 acres along Highway 128. It has been partially owned since 1989 by Tom Cahill, a UCD professor emeritus of physics and atmospheric science and research professor in engineering, and his wife, Ginny, a deputy attorney general who also teaches environmental and water law at UCD. 

The hike began just off the Cahill property at Four Winds Nursery, where John and Mary Helen Seeger grow 50 varieties of dwarf citrus trees and ship them off to grow on patios across the country. 

John Seeger walked the hikers through the process, detailing how weed seeds are filtered out from creek water and the water treated with ozone to effectively sterilize it, eliminating the need to use fungicides, and how a vintage drip system helps the growers minimize the amount of water they use. 

An enthusiastic host, Cahill told the story of how thanks to taking out another mortgage on their Davis home and the bumbling of a marijuana farmer who lit a blaze that ended up damaging part of the land, reducing the asking price, Cahill, his wife and a friend could afford the land. 

"It looked terrible," he said. 

Their goal since has been to restore it, as best they can, to its natural state. By sparing the ground the cattle grazing that had ravaged it, already the land is surging back to its natural state. 

Cahill stood on a grassy spot, dotted by lacy blue larkspur and dozens of varieties of other, smaller flowers, and talked about the "surprising and delightful" return of purple needle grass and other native species to a spot burned in a fire last year. 

He pointed to an area where two weeks earlier he founded matted grass and blood; there, he felt certain, a mountain lion had leapt down upon its dinner. 

The land, which climbs steeply about 1,000 feet in places, is also home to more than 35 species each of birds and butterfly, from hawks to western bluebirds to turkeys, fox and some healthy-looking coyotes, he said. Blue oak trees and manzanita give way to gray pine, valley oaks, black walnuts. Red buds have come back, reaching up through poison oak. 

Cahill lamented poachers and trespassers with off-road vehicles, then chatted about how the creek reached 8,700 cubic feet per second over the winter, compared the 1,500 cubic feet per second of the American River in summer, wiping out an island of willows and scrubbing rocks clean of vegetation. 

"The creek constantly reworks itself like that," he said. 

The Cahills have opened the land up to researchers from UCD, ranging from botanists to biologists, and small groups of campers and hikers. 

On the day of the Putah Creek Council's hike, he relaxed with his visitors as they chewed their lunches at creekside. 

"That's what it makes it so fun for us," Tom Cahill said. "I just love sharing (the land). I'm sorry it was under-appreciated before, but I like taking people to the land that appreciate it now." 

Cahill said he planned to see to it the land is never developed and will always remain open to the public in some way. He imagines property owners someday stitching together hiking trails stretching east all the way to the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area. 

"It's an amazing treasure we have here -- and it's just sort of a hidden one," he said. 

At one point along the trail, Cahill stopped at what, at first glance, appeared to be ordinary puddles along the trail. 

In fact, they were salt springs, vaguely smelly spots of brackish water that can be found up and down the coastal ranges. The puddles are often an indicator of fault lines, though Moores said no thorough geologic examination of that reach of Putah Creek has been done. 

"They're actually remnant marine waters that were incorporated in the sediment at the time of the formation..," Moores said. "This water stayed in the sediments and it's being squeezed out right now, in part because of the tectonic activity taking place." 

Salt water, oozing to the surface -- a sign of the intense pressure below our feet, another sign that the plates of the earth are still moving on, as slowly as fingernails grow. 

"You don't not want to step in this mud," Cahill warned the hikers, "your shoes will never be the same."

Beaver Management Workshop: February 1, 2004

Beavers are among the most skillful builders in the animal world and are famous for constructing dams across rivers and streams.  Beavers are also known locally for wreaking havoc on newly planted restoration projects and native trees.  In order to protect restoration plantings while keeping both beaver and other wildlife healthy, methods have been developed to manage beavers in local riparian areas.  Progressive beaver management methods include wire wrapping of mature trees, beaver gnawing deterrents, and beaver exclusion fencing.

Join the Putah Creek Council for a workshop this Sunday, February 1 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm to learn more about beaver behavior and management.  Local beaver expert Mary Tappel who has mapped and photographed the beaver dams and ponds along Putah Creek will lead the workshop.  The workshop is free and open to the public.  Please meet at the UC Davis Putah Creek Reserve picnic area and fire ring.

Mary Tappel was raised in Davis and spent her childhood exploring Putah Creek.  She has a degree in Botany from UC Davis and does consultant work on beaver management for the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA).  She will be speaking on her own time as a volunteer for this workshop and not on behalf of any agency.

Building Bird Boxes: March 8, 2003

On Saturday March 8th over thirty-five volunteers from elementary schoolers to their grandparents attended a bird box building day at the Audubon/FARMS center in Winters, CA. Volunteers learned about bird species along Putah Creek and their habitat requirements, constructed bird boxes from pre-cut kits and hung bird boxes on Craig McNamara’s property, in an organic walnut orchard and along the creek, to add to the Putah Creek Nest Box Trail.

Putah Creek Bio-Monitoring Group

[As of 2010, the Bio-Monitoring Group is inactive, though monitoring continues by Ken Davis. This page is here for historical reference.]

The Putah Creek Council Stream Biomonitoring Group is a dedicated group of “bug samplers” tracking the spread of the New Zealand Mudsnail and continuing baseline monitoring of which insects currently call Putah Creek home. This core group of dedicated, trained volunteers willingly give up Saturday mornings once a month to help establish baseline data on the insects that are found in Putah Creek. This baseline data provides an  overview of how the ecology of Putah Creek is functioning, and will provide information on how the New Zealand mudsnail impacts the Putah Creek ecosystem and food chain. 
 
The group works with Ken Davis, Independent Aquatic Biologist, who oversees all aquatic Putah Creek sampling efforts and monitoring of the New Zealand Mudsnail. 
 
This group has done a great deal to document the extent of the Mudsnail, and the response of native aquatic insects to this invasive snail. In 2009 Ken Davis released a report based on the group's findings which showed that our intermittent creeks--those such as Dry Creek which only have flow during storms--are perhaps the best biological bank of insect diversity for Putah Creek. 
 
Ken Davis' project report for work in 2008-2009 is available at this link. 
 
The slideshow below is a good representation of a fun field day in 2009. 

Adopt a Flat

Overview

In recent years, the Adopt-A-Flat program has worked with local teachers to introduce students to the concept of restoration through classroom presentations and raising native grasses for planting along Putah Creek. During the 2007-2008 school year, fourth grade classes raising grass flats had the opportunity to conduct investigations, like comparing growth between potting soil and compost substrates, as a means to better engage students and fulfill state science standards. At the end of their studies students plant their native grass plugs on class field trips or public planting events at the UC Davis Riparian Reserve or select sites around Winters.
 
2007-2008 School Year
 
In January 2008, PCC staff and UC Davis interns visited classrooms to present information on native grasses and the need for restoration.  Students seeded grasses and cared for them over the course of several weeks, eagerly awaiting germination and seeing how fast they would grow!
 
Seven classes from four schools in Davis participated in AAF this spring.  Four of these classes analyzed the results of growing blue wildrye (Elymus glaucus) in different soils to help the PCC fine-tune its growing instructions.  All Davis classes donated their grasses back to PCC for use during a Saturday public planting event at the UC Davis Riparian Reserve. 
 
Five classes from Shirley Rominger Intermediate School in Winters also raised native grasses.  Two months after their seeding assembly, students from four of these classes took a field trip to the Youth Campground Area at Lake Solano Regional Park.  Over two days, students planted the grasses they had grown, took a short hike, and collected plant cuttings to start a habitat restoration project for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly.  These large black butterflies appeared as if on cue for each group, adding greatly to everyone’s excitement.
 
In total, approximately 300 students were exposed to the joy of growing native grasses and the pride of helping the creek’s human and wildlife community.  By extension, 300 families were introduced to the work of the PCC through newsletters, planting invitations, and field trip information graciously distributed by participating teachers.  And let’s not forget the on-the-ground results made possible by AAF: about 2,500 viable plugs were planted at two sites for increased erosion control and habitat.
 
School Experiments
 
Birch Lane, Willet, and North Davis Elementary Schools participated in native grass growing experiments.  4th grade students from Willet compared the growth rates of 4 species of native grasses (Purple Needlegrass, Blue Wildrye, Creeping Wildrye, and Meadow Barley) while North Davis and Birch Lane 4th graders compared different soil mediums.  The results of their classroom experiments are below:
 

Advocacy and Collaboration

Putah Creek fish killPutah Creek Council began as a group of nature enthusiasts coming together to appreciate and learn about nature nearby in 1988, and to protect what little stream-side habitat remained. In 1989 a drought hit our region during which so much water was diverted from the creek that the lower 23 miles substantially dried. The creekbed was littered with dead fish, and all eyes looked to Putah Creek Council to take action (see photo, right). 

The history of the legal suit which won in-stream flows for the creek to maintain wildlife, and other positive outcomes of the 10-year suit are detailed in Putah Creek Council's history. 

Current efforts to advocate for the health of the creek and collaborate with other groups working toward the same include:

  • Collaborating on writing and implementing grants which improve the health of the creek and bio-region
  • Meeting quarterly with other groups working on environmental education along Putah Creek via the group "Putah Creek Discovery Corridor"
  • Meeting quarterly with the Delta Tributaries Mercury Council to learn about mercury pollution in Putah and other creeks

Native Plant Nursery

*To volunteer at the Putah Creek Nursery, register for an event at our Events Calendar.*

ABOUT THE NURSERY

Watch a short video about the Putah Creek Nursery (Produced by Sinead Santich, with music composed by Matt Marcure and Jarod Quiring)

Putah Creek Council engages our community through hands-on volunteer stewardship, habitat enhancement, and restoration work using plants native to the Putah Creek watershed. 

Through an innovative partnership between the Council, Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee, and CAL FIRE's L.A. Moran Reforestation Center in south Davis, we have the ability to grow our own native plants from seeds and cuttings that are collected locally. 

The Putah Creek Nursery in Davis includes facilities and equipment which are currently un-used due to State budget cuts. CALFIRE graciously (and generously!) has allowed our partnership to use a potting shed, greenhouse, and 1/4-acre shadehouse. The fact that the State is willing to allow us to use the facility and provides water and electricity for the site shows just how supportive and forward-thinking they are about California's natural resources. 

Putah Creek Council volunteers propagate the plants and help take care of the native plant nursery through regular, planned events. If you would like to help, we'd love to have you. Please register for an upcoming nursery event, or contact us to let us know if you would like a special volunteer role at the nursery. 

PLANT AVAILABILITY

We sell plants to our restoration partners, Putah Creek landowners, and others who need native plants for habitat enhancement purposes or public-benefit projects. If you are interested in purchasing plants, please click here for our most recent plant availability list. Give us a call at 530-795-3006 to tell us about your project and place an order, or if you have any questions. 

 

Off Highway Vehicle Project--UC Davis Sites

The UC Davis site included in our OHV project intends to block access to the creek by illegal motorized trespass, and to enhance stream-side habitat. By blocking access to the creek at this and adjoining sites, we hope to end and prevent further damage to Putah Creek in the area which has seen the most damage from motorized trespass. 

Motorized trespassers would access the Creek from the UC Davis site, ride through the creek (including through prime salmon-spawning areas), and cross onto neighboring properties. 

The general site plan/ concept can be found at this link.

The slide show below is from our December 19th community volunteer day. We planted 124 native trees, shrubs, and grasses. Just as the last volunteer left, the skies opened up and a downpour watered-in the plants nicely!

 

Fund conservation with your old car

CARS_Spring17_1_0.jpg

 

Donate your vehicle, support Putah Creek Council. Simply call 855-500-RIDE (7433) or fill out this online form, and they come pick it up (working or not), sell it, send the proceeds to Putah Creek Council. You get a tax write off, and the glowing feeling that comes from knowing you did something wonderful. 

It sounds too good to be true: have a willing donor make a call to donate an unwanted vehicle, someone arrives a the donor's door within the week to pick it up, and once the car is sold, Charitable Adults Rides and Services (CARS) finalizes the donation and takes care of all the paperwork... 

Yet, the CARS car donation programs has already been very successful for Putah Creek Council. 

It works.

It's easy. 

Contact Devi Eden at devi@putahcreekcouncil.org or 530-795-3006 if you have any questions. 

Our History

The founding meeting of Putah Creek Council took place on Feb. 3, 1988, with the idea of bringing together people who would protect the creek's remaining riparian habitat and the water level in Putah Creek. During the summers of 1989 and 1990 the lower creek--a roughly 23-mile stretch from the Solano Diversion Dam to the Putah Creek Sinks in the bypass--experienced lengthy periods of drying that resulted in substantial fish deaths and a general depression of the overall fish population and consternation on the part of creekside landowners, conservationists, birders, nature lovers and environmentalists.

On May 23, 2000, Putah Creek Council, City of Davis and UC Davis officially resolved a lawsuit against Solano County Water Agency, Solano Irrigation District, and other Solano entities. The suit sought permanent environmental flows for the 23 miles of Putah Creek below Putah Diversion Dam.

On May 24, 2000 all parties to the new accord gathered at the diversion dam to celebrate a new era for Putah Creek. For the Solano agencies, the new era brings water security, mutual reductions during extended droughts, a clear management strategy for riparian diversions, and some operational flexibility. For the environment, there are new flows for resident fish and ocean-run salmon and steelhead, substantial restoration funds, a permanent streamkeeper and the new Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee.

A Quick Review

"An environmental tragedy is unfolding on the outskirts of Davis. Because of bureaucratic confusion about water rights and inadequate water releases below Lake Solano dam into the natural stream, the lower six miles of Putah Creek have been dry for over two weeks. Countless fish and aquatic life have been lost, cottonwood and willow trees are beginning to die out, and numerous species of wildlife have abandoned the riparian and wetland habitat they rely on for survival . . . Beaver dams and lodges sit exposed in the sweltering heat and thousands of dried carcasses of fish, tadpoles and crustaceans are imbedded in the drying mud of the creek's disappearing potholes."

The passage above jolted readers of the July/August 1989 issue of Putah Creek News just as much as the events had disturbed the Camp Putah day-camper kids who were watching the creek go dry at the UC Davis Riparian Reserve.

For the Putah Creek Council and its many partners, an 11-year odyssey began in which Winters and Davis residents—and supporters everywhere—worked hard to secure adequate flows for the creek.

In the summer of 1989, the state was settling into its seven-year drought and the creek went dry. The drought was not the only problem. The state never required flows to protect the creek's environment following completion of the Solano Project in 1957. Worse, the releases that were required to supply landowners included a "dry year" release schedule that permitted reduced flows when inflow to Lake Berryessa fell below 150,000 acre-feet (af) per year.

In early 1990, the Council and others sought to purchase water from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) to avoid a repeat of the summer of 1989. On Aug. 15, 1990, the Council chose direct legal action and obtained an injunction securing temporary relief for the creek. The Council then filed a more formal suit in early 1991.

In 1993 a coalition was formed between the Council, UC Davis, and the City of Davis. The cornerstone of this alliance involved the university and city joining the Council's 1991 suit for greater instream flows

By early 1996 our day in court had arrived and we pursued our case for five weeks before Judge Richard Park of the Sacramento Superior Court. The judge ordered 50 percent more water for the creek. This was not all that the Council sought. The judge did not find the case for salmon and steelhead strong enough and perhaps he was concerned that the "water cost" to the Solano agencies to release water for these fish might be too high. Still, the Solano agencies appealed, halting implementation of new flows and, in time, starting new negotiations.

Read about the Six Elements of the Putah Creek Accord

Why Were We Successful?

The Law. State laws concerning instream flows strongly suggested that higher flows were needed for Putah Creek's water-dependent resources: native fish, recreation, research, etc. The Public Trust Doctrine imposes an affirmative duty on the state to protect the environment associated with its waterways and tidelands. Section 5937 of the state's Fish & Game Code requires dam operators to maintain fish below dams in good condition.

These two laws were the cornerstones of our case, and because no environmental flows had ever been set for Putah Creek, we weren't arguing for reconsideration, we were saying: Do what was never done, what should have been done 40 years ago. This was persuasive in court and informally to individuals and public agency staff.

The Coalition. The community coalition was broad and formidable. While the Council started the instream flow suit, UC Davis and the City of Davis were invaluable partners. Without them, Putah Creek would not have permanent flows.

Our principles. The Putah Creek Council was guided by an elegant rule: base all positions on the best available evidence. We never sought to exaggerate our case. If anything, we were constantly conservative to protect our credibility and maintain the strength of our coalition. Our hydrologic models of the creek were never seriously challenged. Neither was fish data. The debate focused on interpretation of information and the appropriate level of protection. We knew it was better to recognize water costs and advocate for the needs of the creek rather than delay progress with factual arguments.

Our supporters. What a wonderful group it is that watches over the creek. Meeting after meeting, regardless of the immediate prospects for success, volunteers wanted to help. Ever-present were friends who consulted on an issue, landowners who added a perspective, or old-timers who would generously share information on the creek's former state.

Hammering out the settlement. Final resolution came from negotiations, outside the adversarial constraints of a courtroom. This was ideal. It allowed for detailed provisions that made the settlement work. But the setting for the final round of negotiations was unique.

Changing values. Protecting the creek was also influenced by new recognition that water projects must provide greater consideration to the environment. In 1992 the Central Valley Project Improvement Act nudged the Bureau of Reclamation in this direction. In 1994 the Los Angeles Department of water and power agreed to accept protections for Mono Lake.

And in 1995 the ambitious federal-state CALFED program began its work to heal the Bay-Delta and its tributaries from the effects of water project. These events all made it clear that environmental protections for the creek could not be avoided.

(History by Joe Krovoza, former Putah Creek Council Board Chair)

Learn about our wonderful community of partners, supporters, and funders.

Our Wonderful Community of Partners, Funders, Cooperators and Supporters

Fishing and Camping

Putah Creek has great public access for both fishing and camping. We provide information in this section to help direct you to those who can help you enjoy public resources, but we have no direct management of either fishing or camping resources.


Fishing on Putah Creek

Inter-Dam reach fishing access sites

 
 

Historical Conditions of the Creek

The history of Putah Creek would not be complete without ample mention of flood and drought, the emigrant farming families which settled Putah region, and how early settlers changed the creek to make settlement possible.

This section discusses some of the human-led events which changed the creek. The Native American history of Putah Creek can be found here. 

The Creek was historically a very "flashy" system--one whose flow could change over night during a large storm. The tendency for Putah Creek to overflow her banks in a large storm made the flat, fertile farmland from Winters and east an ideal place to grow wheat...unless the flows were so large that farms were wiped out...or unless the rains and flood waters never came and left the region and its wheat crops parched. In other words: Putah Creek and her flow were unpredictable at best, and destructive at worst. The creek had a vast riparian (stream-side) forest which extended miles in either direction, and its substrate was gravel and cobble (rocks). The riparian forest was dominated by alder, willow, and cottonwood close to the creek, and oaks including valley, coast and interior live oak farther out from the live channel. As the creek meandered its way to "Davisville" it entered a vast expanse of tule and "swamp." 

Much of what we now think of now as Putah Creek bears little resemblance to the geography and hydrology of the creek prior to the 1870s.

As farmers moved to the area after the gold rush, much of the stream side forest was cleared for farming.  

The upper Putah Creek Watershed, all 576-square miles of it, receives over 90% of the precipitation which falls in the watershed. The water is collected behind Monticello Dam in Lake Berryessa, one of the largest reservoirs in California. 

The Putah Creek watershed receives a substantial amount of rain every year, most of which is now contained behind Monticello Dam in Lake Berryessa. The upper Putah Creek watershed encompasses 576 square miles of rugged terrain. 

Make a donation

We are now able to accept online donations via PayPal:

Or you are welcome to mail a contribution to: Putah Creek Council :: PO Box 743 :: Davis, CA 95617

Explore Putah Creek e-book

The Putah Creek e-book highlights the public access areas of Putah Creek, and what one would experience there on a visit. Explore public access points by clicking here.

Putah Creek Watershed

The Putah Creek watershed is home to myriad rare plants and animals (including Western Pearlshell mussels), and a strong community of people who care about its preservation. Putah Creek is probably named for the Pooewin (Patwin) village, Puta-to, located in what is now downtown Davis.

The Putah Creek watershed begins from springs on the east side of Cobb Mountain. The creek is ~70 miles long and its watershed encompasses a vast array of ecosytems whose make up is determined by geology, elevation, and micro-climates.

Defining attribues of the watershed include Monticello Dam (forming Lake Berryessa, one of the largest reservoirs in California) and the Yolo Bypass. The upper watershed lies above Berryessa and is characterized by oak savannas, rolls hills, and steep terrain. The watershed below the dam includes 32 miles of Putah Creek, much of which is flat and flanked by agriculture.

Read more here about the Putah-Cache Bioregion

To learn more about the history of Putah Creek, and its journey from a dried up creek bed to the flowing, thriving community resource it is today, read the 5-part Putah Creek Legacy series, a joint reporting project from Climate Confidential and The Davis Enterprise. 

 

Water and water-based research and issues

On this page you will find links to studies on water and water quality research on and around Putah Creek. Please feel free to suggest additional links. This page will continue to be updated. 

Labratory for Health-Related Research (super fund site on Putah Creek): LEHR Fact Sheet 10_11.pdf

Water and water-based research and issues

On this page you will find links to studies on water and water quality research on and around Putah Creek. Please feel free to suggest additional links. This page will continue to be updated. 

Laboratory for Health-Related Research (super fund site on Putah Creek): LEHR Fact Sheet 10_11.pdf

Yolo Hiker

Cache Creek wildernessYolo Hiker is a project of Tuleyome. The Yolo Hiker website will connect you with areas to hike, and if you desire, group hikes to join. 

Pleasants Creek

Pleasants Creek Project info here

Pleasants Creek

Pleasants Creek Project info here

Urban Greening

Off Highway Vehicle Project (2010-2013)

On October 1, 2010, Putah Creek Council and partner Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee won a large grant to restore damage caused by illegal "off highway vehicle" trespass. The funds are intended to restore the integrity of habitat along the creek and prevent further trespass. 

The photo below gives you an idea of some of the abuse these riparian (stream-side) areas of Putah Creek have suffered from off-highway vehicles. Click on the photo to see more photos from additional sites to be restored under this contract. 

This is a 3-year project, and will include the installation of:

  • 19 acres of native grassland
  • 1.7 miles native plant hedgerow
  • 400 canopy trees
  • 12 gated access points to deter trespass, while still allowing legal landowner access

Funding from this project comes from the California State Parks' Off Highway Vehicle program, which is funded by license fees from off highway vehicle registration. 

The work will be accomplished at four primary sites, each of which has its own habitat enhancement and trespass deterrence plan. 

  • UC Davis---3 areas
  • Olmo Property
  • Nishikawa Property
  • City of Winters' Putah Creek Nature Park 
  • Dry Creek

Native Plant Hedgerows

Hedgerows are linear plantings of native trees, shrubs, and forbs. They provide many benefits, including; blocking illegal vehicle trespass, providing food and shelter to wildlife, attracting beneficial pollinators, preventing erosion, filtering run-off,  and improving water quality.  

Planting a variety of species helps insure there is always something blooming for pollinators. Different horizontal layers (canopy, understory, and groundcover)  provide cover, nesting habitat, and food for a variety of insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals along the creek.

The trees, shrubs, and forbs we plant have been propagated from seeds and cuttings taken from native plants in the Putah Creek watershed. We grow them in a native plant nursery in Davis with the help of community volunteers. Please see our "Upcoming Events" section to sign up to help in the nursery. 

Dry Creek

Although the Dry Creek channel is dry most of the year, it is an important tribuatry of Putah Creek. In winter, the channel fills with water and carries gravel and cobble into gravel-starved Putah Creek. Gravel is a crucial element in creeks because it provides habitat for insects, and spawning areas for fish. 

Additionally, because Dry Creek is ephemeral, the exotic invasive New Zealand mudsnail cannot survive there. The New Zealand mudsnail endangers the food chain by outcompeting native snails and water insects for food, leading to sharp declines in the native populations. Fish populations then suffer because the native snails and insects are their main food source. Dry Creek is home to many native insects, and when it flows, it helps replenish the food chain in Putah Creek.

Purchase Putah Creek Council Merchandise

We have a small selection of fun merchandise for sale. All proceeds go toward our education and community stewardship programs and advocacy on behalf of Putah Creek.

To order something, simply send an email to:  admin@putahcreekcouncil.org or call our office at (530) 795-3006. We can mail your order (postage added) or set aside your purchase for pick-up at our Winters office. We can also accept secure credit card payments over the phone. 

MERCHANDISE - See photos below

Putah Creek Council Guidebooks    $15

Vintage Putah Creek Council Poster (Yan Nascimbene artwork)  $15

Vintage Logo Tee Shirts - Short Sleeve    $20

Vintage Logo Tee Shirts - Long Sleeve    $25

Putah Creek Boxed Fine Art Notecards (Rob Stone photography)    $20

Putah Creek Council Pint Glasses    $5 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Use Reporting

WPCP Water Monitoring (Click on Photo)

 

OHV Water Monitoring (Click on Photo)

 

2010 Putah Creek Cleanup

By Diana Morris, volunteer

Over 100 volunteers collected 7,000 pounds of trash along Putah Creekin theWinters area during the 11th annual Putah Creek Cleanup, Saturday, September 25 in conjunction with the California Coastal Commission’s annual California Creek and Coastal Cleanup day.

Young families, students, grandparents, local residents, foreign visitors and friends of the creek turned out to spend the morning scouring trails and collecting trash along the creek.

With 80,000 participants state wide, the Commission awardedits annual  “Most  Unusual Item Found” to the Winters volunteers for “dead cow in a bag” discovered by Winters High School volunteers Alex Balasek and Holly Bailey. This was a repeat award as Winters won the same acknowledgement last year for a grand piano hauled up from the creek.

Putah Creek Council charter member and cleanup volunteer Sally Moore says, “The amount of litter and trash along the creek has improved over the years.”Moore goes on to say litter has declined in recent years. She attributes the decline to school programs educating children about litter and public awareness, also due to publicity and education.

A number of volunteers sited the need to increase the creek’s ability to sustain habitat for wildlife, beneficial insects and natural vegetation areas as reasons for spending a warm, late summer morning working at a grimy, dust-choking, base chore. Among the six designated locations sited for cleanup, Boyce Lane appeared to have the most “large items.” It took eight volunteers pushing and pulling on tow ropes to pull a refrigerator, washer/dryer combination, various beds and box springs, and more up the steep slope of the creek.

Sacramento surgical veterinarian Celia Val Verde brought her visiting friend Jan White, also a veterinarian, from Washington. Val Verde canoes onPutah Creek and speaks of the “beautiful vegetation,” the swallows in the spring that nest under the bridges, the Western Pond Turtles, osprey, fishing eagle and the river otters that make the creek their home. She says other local rivers, Natomas or Consumnes, don’t have the wildlife Putah Creek supports and are often crowded with people.

Registration began at 9 am at Rotary Park with all volunteers signing in and offered free water bottles, coloring books, and more to remind everyone of the importance of maintaining a clean and healthy creek. Libby Earthman, Putah Creek Council Director, gave a brief welcome and followed up with general instructions regarding disposition of trash. Volunteers from Davis joined the crowd remarking what goes into the creek in Winters ends up in Davis. So they were eager to keep the debris from finding its way to their fair city.

The Balasek family, dad Kurt, daughters Alex and Rebecca, are repeat volunteers and enlisted friends from Winters High School. Students Denise Fernandez, Andrea Fernandez, Danllely Leon and Jose Valdez came for the additional service hours to be used for High School classes and to add volunteer experience to their resumes. Nine year old Sienna Mazza says this is her second year and she “believes the earth should be cleaner.”

Paul Marcotte, attached to the UC Davis chancellor’s office, brought 13 volunteers from the Humphery Fellows Program. Marcotte says this is a unique program established by the US Department of State to bring high ranking environmental employees from around the world to Davis to study environmental issues, return to their homeland and implement new programs. Participants came from Ethiopia, Uganda, Botswana, Vietnam, Mexico, Argentina, Zambia, and China.

Participants returned to Rotary Park for lunch and a fun filled time of raffle prizes for some unique and unusual finds along the creek. Luz Taposok from the Philippines received her choice from the prize table for “Traveling the Farthest.” GI Joe with no clothes, clothes were later found farther down the creek, won Elizabeth Williams the prize for “Most Unexpected” find. The “Largest Number of Items” prize went to Sally Moore for the 370 spray paint cans collected at Stevenson Bridge (aka Graffiti Bridge).The category “Would have worked but…” went to Logan Fox for a fire extinguisher. And the award-winning “Dead Cow in a Bag” won for “Most Disgusting Find” with Alex Balasek and Holly Bailey garnering prizes from the table.

 

 

2011 Putah Creek Cleanup

 

By Diana Morris, Putah Creek Council Volunteer

In conjunction with the California Coastal Commissions’ 27th annual Coastal Cleanup, Putah Creek  Council sponsored the annual Putah Creek Cleanup on Saturday, September 17th.  Check in began at 9 am with a short introduction by Libby Earthman, executive director of the Council, and hard-working volunteers chose their desired sites heading out to collect trash in buckets and bags. 

Earthman began by explaining why Sacramento Valley waterways, including the creeks and streams surrounding Winters and Davis, need to be cleaned, “All litter and debris eventually flow to the Delta then on to San Francisco Bay before it makes its way to the ocean.”

Volunteers labored along the north and south sides of Putah Creek from the car bridge to I-505 and on past I-505 on the south side of Putah Creek, including over 20 people working at Stevenson Bridge. In addition, a new location was cleaned this year in the Dry Creek area off The Horseshoe in Winters.

Making every effort to create less waste, the Council suggested volunteers bring their own buckets, gloves and reusable water bottles.  In all, over 100 volunteers collected over 4,560 pounds of litter and dumped items.

First year participants included locals Heather Pilmanis and son Caleb, 3. Having grown up in the area, Heather Pilmanis said, “It’s great to see how much it has improved. We hope to make the Cleanup an annual experience.”

Once again, Humphrey Fellows from UC Davis, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, participated. Coming from approximately a dozen different countries, the fellows are mid-career professionals specializing in climate change, natural resources, and agriculture. When asked why the group volunteers, Gwen Benner, assistant director of the program said, “the participants of the program want to give back to the taxpayers” who provide this learning opportunity.

Volunteers returned to Rotary Park at noon for a burritos lunch from Winters’ own El Pueblo Taqueria . Contests and raffle prizes were awarded as the Cleanup finished up. Prizes were awarded to the longest returning volunteer, Mick Klasson, 8 years; youngest volunteer, Caleb Pilmanis, age 3; and most seasoned volunteer, Pierre Neu.

Honorable mention goes to ten-year old Walker Holmes of Winters. Holmes has been coming to the Putah Creek Cleanup with his mother, Jean Whitsman, since he was 3.

Volunteers included several students from Wolfskill High School, donating community service hours for graduation requirements. Students participating from Winters High School’s Interact Club were on-hand as were parents and students from Davis’ Waldorf School.

Participants commented on the unique and unusual items pulled from the creek this year: a complete bedroom suite with a lovely mirror which was intact­­, voted most reusable item found; an interesting piece of art: a twisted, metal wire bonsai tree on a marble base; and of course the most disgusting item.

Local businesses donating raffle prizes included Putah Creek Café, First Northern Bank, Turkovich Family Wines, and gift certificates from Red Robin.  The Council expressed its appreciation to all the contributing businesses, and Putah Creek Week sponsor businesses including Ace Hardware, Berryessa Gap Vineyards, Preserve, RootStock, Tomats, and Warrier Video from Winters; and Blake’s Heating and Air from Davis.

A local Winters family offered a $500 matching gift if the Council could raise $1,000 from the community by September 30, 2001. Earthman gratefully reported $3,300 had been raised and was extremely thankful to the generosity of the community.

All volunteers are to be commended for a “dirty job” well done.

 

 

North Davis Riparian Greenbelt: An Urban Greening Project

The North Davis Riparian Greenbelt project intends to "green" a stormwater channel in north Davis by replacing weeds with drought-tolerant native plants, establishing trees to shade the channel, and creating educational areas to learn about native plants and sustainable landscape managment. 

Project Objectives Include:

  • Improve air and water quality – Improve the buffer between agricultural areas and dwellings to reduce drift of pesticide and dust
  • Improve the riparian ecosystem and its adaptability to climate change – Improve the corridor for riparian wildlife habitat and migration, particularly for the Swainson’s hawk (state listed threatened)
  • Improve public health – Improve local, non-motorized, public recreation in nature nearby, on foot and bike, as part of the City of Davis’ greenbelt network
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions – Provide increased shade from trees to help reduce
  • urban heat island conditions
  • Conserve water – Plant native, drought-tolerant trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants and riparian plants
  • Increase stewardship – Provide interpretive areas and signs noting the benefits of drought-tolerant native riparian vegetation; engage and train local volunteers for community benefits
  • Minimize long-term maintenance – Provide sturdy interpretive facilities and signs and propagate low-maintenance vegetation

 

Project partners include:

The specifics of how the channel will be re-planted are to be determined, based on community input, City maintanence needs, and habitat value. We welcome your input! To stay informed about this project, please email: rgp@putahcreekcouncil.org to be put on our email list to hear about upcoming meetings, tours, and more.

 

 

2017 Board of Directors

 

 Wendy Rash, Chair

 

 

 

John McNerney, Secretary

 

 

 

Gary Godefroy, Treasurer

 

 

 

Eric Davis

 

 

 

Erin Hasbrook

 

 

 

 

Katherine Holmes

 
 
 

  
Frank Loge
 
 

 

 

Stephen McCord

 

 

Chris Rose

 

 

 

Valerie Whitworth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteer

 

We have both general and specific volunteer needs. Visit our Event Calendar to sign up for a regular weekend event, or read about and join special groups listed below.

Download the Putah Creek Council Liability Waiver.

North Davis: public comments, and ideas for the channel, greenbelt

The following schematics are ONLY IDEAS/ CONCEPTS, they are NOT the plan to be implemented! 

We provided them at the first public meeting in order to start a conversation about what might be possible. These ideas DO NOT YET incorporate feedback from the community, as we want to hear from more people before drafting a formal first draft. They do include observations of what already exists in the channel and surrounding area. 

  • The first draft of the plan will be available at the end of February, and will be created per your input on these idea.
  • The final plan for the channel will be available in May, 2013.  

Please submit comments on the comment page, available at this link.

 


CHANNEL IDEAS

Click on each link below to be taken to a PDF of the document. 

Section 1 (PDF)

Section 2 (PDF)

Section 3 (PDF)

Section 4 (PDF)

Section 5 (PDF)


GREENBELT IDEAS

The following link provides the poster presented at the initial public meeting regarding potential educational elements that could be integrated between the channel and greenbelt. Again, the ideas DO NOT YET incorporate feedback from the community, as we want to hear from more people before drafting a formal first draft. 

Please note that "option A" for the recycled materials garden is no longer under consideration. 

Greenbelt ideas (PDF)

 

 

 

 

 

Research on Putah Creek

Putah Creek benefits from extensive research by professional scientists, UC Davis students, and others. If you would like your research featured here, please contact us.

 

Land and land-based research

 

 

 

Water and water-based issues

 

 

 

Fish and wildlife

 

 

 

Insects and aquatic organisms

Fish and Wildlife Research on Putah Creek

Putah Creek benefits from ongoing studies of fish and wildlife along Putah Creek, much of which is headed by the UC Davis Museum of Fish and Wildlife Biology. 

The following links will take you to documents outside of this website:

Putah Creek Terrestrial Wildlife Monitoring Program 1997-2009: Comprehensive Report

Putah Creek Terrestrial Wildlife Monitoring Program 1997-2009 Report: Map Volume

 

 

North Davis Riparian Greenbelt: Project Objectives

 

Project objectives include:Current weedy condition

  • Improve air and water quality – Improve the buffer between agricultural areas and dwellings to reduce drift of pesticide and dust
  • Improve the riparian ecosystem and its adaptability to climate change – Improve the corridor for riparian wildlife habitat and migration, particularly for the Swainson’s hawk (state listed threatened)
  • Improve public health – Improve local, non-motorized, public recreation in nature nearby, on foot and bike, as part of the City of Davis’ greenbelt network
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions – Provide increased shade from trees to help reduce urban heat island conditions
  • Conserve water – Plant native, drought-tolerant trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants and riparian plants
  • Increase stewardship – Provide interpretive areas and signs noting the benefits of drought-tolerant native riparian vegetation; engage and train local volunteers for community benefits
  • Minimize long-term maintenance – Provide sturdy interpretive facilities and signs and propagate low-maintenance vegetation

Project partners include:

Office Address and Phone

107 Main Street

Winters, CA 95694

Phone: 530-795-3006

 

PUTAH CREEK COUNCIL VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT AND RELEASE FROM LIABILITY

If volunteer is under 18 years of age, a parent or guardian must print, read, sign, and return the release below. 


PUTAH CREEK COUNCIL

VOLUNTEER AGREEMENT, RELEASE FROM LIABILITY, INDEMNIFICATION, and PHOTO RELEASE

Awareness and Assumption of Risk: I am volunteering my services for Putah Creek Council’s Community Stewardship Program (Program) on projects which may involve work planting, plant care, irrigation, trash cleanup, and in a native plant nursery on a voluntary basis without anticipation of payment of any kind, and I specifically acknowledge that I am engaging in this activity as a volunteer, at my own request and risk. I understand that my participation in this Program involves certain inherent risks, including, but not limited to, the risks of possible injury, infection or loss of life as a result of any hazardous materials found, poisonous bugs or snakes, or from over-exertion, drowning or other environmental conditions. Despite the risks, I still choose to participate in such Program. I know of no physical limitation that should keep me from undertaking the activities associated with this Program. In consideration for being allowed to participate in this Program , I hereby personally assume all risks in connection with the Program for any harm, injury or damage that may befall me as a participant, including all risks connected therewith, whether foreseen or unforeseen.

Safety Rules and Instruction: I will not use any equipment or tools with which I am unfamiliar or do not know how to operate safely; I will perform only those tasks assigned to me, observe all written and verbal instruction safety rules, and use care in the performance of my assignments;

Waiver and Release of Claims: I hereby agree to release Putah Creek Council and any other agency co-sponsoring the Program, including the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA), the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee (LPCCC), City of Davis, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, any landowner involved in this Program, any agency that is a part of the LPCCC and any agency or person that contributed funds to this Program or to the LPCCC or Putah Creek Council, and any other organizers or promoters or sponsors or property owners involved in this Program, and their respective employees, officers, agents or assigns, (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Released Parties”), from any liability for any injury, death or other damages to me or my family, heirs, or assigns that may occur as a result of my participation in this Program.

Indemnification: To the fullest extent permitted by law, I hereby agree to indemnify and hold harmless the Released Parties from and against all liabilities, claims, demands and causes of action of any kind on account of any loss, damage, illness or injury to any third party or damage to property in any way arising out of or relating to my participation in the Program.                                                                                                                  

Medical Care Consent and Waiver: I authorize Putah Creek Council to provide to me with first aid, and through medical personnel of its choice, medical assistance, transportation, and emergency medical services. This consent does not impose a duty upon Putah Creek Council to provide such assistance, transportation, or services. In addition, I waive and release any claims against the Released Parties arising out of any first aid, treatment or medical service, including the lack or timing of such, made available to me in connection with my participation in the Program.

Publicity Consent: I consent to the unrestricted use in any form of any photographs, interviews, film, other visual or auditory recordings, in any other medium, including the Internet, of me that the Released Parties or others may create in connection with my participation in the Program. I waive my right to inspect or approve the final product and acknowledge that I am not entitled to any compensation for creation or use of the finished product.

___________date   ______________________________Signature  _________________________Printed Name

 

If the volunteer is under 18 years of age, parent or guardian must read and sign the following: This release, its significance, and assumption of risk have been explained to and are understood by the minor.

 

___________date   ______________________________Signature  _________________________Printed Name

 

North Davis Channel: Draft Plans

The following links provide draft revegetation plans for the North Davis channel. The plans were created based on community feedback regarding the values residents hold about the channel.

We worked hard to balance the input, and community comments on the draft plans to date reflect that we are headed in the right direction. Comments to date on this set of  plans are at this link. Major changes include reduction in the number of trees (fewer than 150 are proposed), a focus on firewise plants, and focusing shrubs on the farm side of the channel opposite most homes. 

Habitat enhancement plans are divided into 5 sections from upstream (section 1, near Spiderweb park) to downstream (section 5, which ends at F Street):

If you would like to see the maps printed out in large format, they are available for viewing at the front desk of the Community Development and Sustainability Department at City Hall. They are available Monday-Friday, 8 AM - 5 PM. 

Comments on the plans can be either submitted online, emailed to Libby Earthman, or mailed to: Putah Creek Council, 106-C Main St., Winters, CA 95694. 

 

Mailing Address

107 Main Street

Winters, CA 95694

Putah Creek Activities and Public Access

Putah Creek has great public access for both fishing and camping. We provide information in this section to help direct you to those who can help you enjoy public resources, but we have no direct management of either fishing or camping resources.

Berryessa Trail Guide

Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve

Putah Creek Wildlife Area

Putah Creek Fishing Access Sites

Lake Solano Park and Campground

Winters Putah Creek Nature Park

UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve

Yolohiker (Hiking along Putah Creek and throughout Yolo County)

Restoration and Habitat Enhancement Projects

Putah Creek Council engages our community with bio-regional restoration and habitat enhancement projects through hands-on volunteer stewardship work. Sometimes we work on our own projects, sometimes we bring community volunteers to other organization's projects. We also try to keep the community informed of what projects are going on along Putah Creek, even those in which we are not involved. Check our Event Calendar for currently scheduled habitat enhancement volunteer opportunities.

The list below is not exhaustive, but rather seeks to highlight past achievements, and give an overview of what we are doing. 

CURRENT PROJECTS ALONG and NEAR PUTAH CREEK

Winters Nature Park Extension

A project funded by the City of Winters. This project is designed to convert a parcel consisting of a stormwater drainage canal and former farmland into oak woodland and upland riparian habitat, which will support a diverse array of wildlife and serve as an open space for Winters residents. Project timeline: May 2018 - June 2021 

Project co-leads: Putah Creek Council, Yolo County Resource Conservation District, Center for Land-Based Learning

Lake Solano Park, Winters

A project funded by Solano County Parks. This project is designed to engage community members in helping prevent erosion, enhance water quality, and increase habitat for humans and wildlife at Lake Solano Park. Project timeline: Ongoing. 

Project co-leads: Solano County Parks, Solano Resource Conservation District, Putah Creek Council

Putah Creek Nature Park, Winters

A project funded by CA Natural Resources Agency, River Parkways Program. This project narrowed the active flow channel of Putah Ceek to enhance water quality and habitat for humans and wildlife. Project timeline: August 2011-September 2018. 

Project lead: Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee

 

PAST PROJECTS ALONG PUTAH CREEK

 

North Davis Riparian Greenbelt

A project funded by CA Natural Resources Agency, Urban Greening Program. Volunteers planted native plants to "green" an urban stormwater drainage in north Davis. Timeline: 2013-2016

Project co-leads: Putah Creek Council, Yolo County Resource Conservation District

 

Pleasants Creek Erosion Control, Winters

A project funded by State Water Resources Control Board to reduce excessive sediment from Pleasants Creek. Project timeline: August 2012-September 2015. 

Project lead: Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee
 

Off Highway Vehicle Habitat Restoration

A project funded by CA State Park's "Off Highway Vehicle" restoration program. This project aims to restore and enhance Putah Creek riparian habitats damaged by off-road vehicle recreation. Project timeline: October 2010-September 2013. 

Project co-leads: Putah Creek Council, Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee

Winters Area Habitat Enhancement Project

The 'Winters Area Projects' were designed to increase habitat along Putah and Dry creek, and decrease illegal trash dumping along Putah Creek Rd. Timeline: 2008-2010

Project co-leads: Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee, Audubon Landowner Stewardship Program, Solano Resource Conservation District (with help from Putah Creek Council volunteers)

Winters Percolation Dam Removal:

The Winters Percolation Dam was removed in the summer of 2009 to allow for enhanced fish passage, make the creek safer, and allow for further habitat enhancement. The project was funded by California Natural Resources Agency. Project timeline: 2009

Project lead: Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee

Adopt A Flat: 2006-2007

Volunteers seeded and grew native grasses at home, then convened at UC Davis to plant them in restoration projects. Project timeline: Fall 2006-Winter 2007

Project lead: Putah Creek Council

 

Adopt A Flat: 2004-2005

Volunteers seeded and grew native grasses at home, then convened at UC Davis to plant them in restoration projects. Project timeline: Fall 2006-Winter 2007

Project lead: Putah Creek Council

 

Valley Oak Growing, Planting, Watering

Volunteers watered Putah Creek Council-volunteer-planted oaks on the UC Davis campus through scorching summers. Project timeline: 2003-2005

Project co-leads: Putah Creek Council, UC Davis Riparian Reserve

 

UC Davis Riparian Reserve Habitat Enhancement

Volunteers planted native plants along the Putah Creek riparian area to enhance habitat at the UC David Riparian Reserve. Project Timeline: Fall 2003

Project co-leads: Putah Creek Council, UC Davis Riparian Reserve

 

Dry Creek Restoration and Erosion Prevention

Volunteers planted native grasses and placed jute mesh to prevent erosion and mass wasting along Dry Creek in Winters. Project timeline: Fall 2003

Project lead: Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee

 

Pleasants Creek Restoration and Erosion Prevention

Volunteers planted native willow and grass, and learned about bio-engneering.  Project timeline: Fall 2002

Project lead: Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee

Putah Creek Club

Spring of 2013 also saw the return of Putah Creek Club. Putah Creek Club aims to connect local youth to Putah Creek in an effort to promote the next generation of creek stewards.

Five 6th grade students from Winters Middle School participated in Putah Creek Club. Students alternated between attending "Explore" events lead by  Alejandro Rojas Garcia and "Restore" Events lead by Putah Creek Council staff; Libby, Sara and Martha. While "Exploring" with Alejandro, PCC Club members learned about the plants and animals native to Putah Creek. They also tried their hand at restoration activities such as preparing bare root roses, installing drip irrigation, and planting oaks. 

Many thanks go out to Alejandro for his vision and dedication and to Rebecca Fridae for providing transportation and serving as a mentor and role model.

Winters Putah Creek Parkway

The Putah Creek River Parkways project narrowed the low-flow channel along about 1 mile of creek. The project cut fill from steep banks, and moved it into a form such that the creek now has a walkable riparian area, and improved wildlife habitat. 

The information at the following links tells the story of the project and expected long-term outcomes. 

1: Project History

2: Why the Project Matters

3: Floods and Dams on Putah Creek

4: Habitat for Humans, Habitat for Wildlife

 

The following people have volunteered with this project since 2011:

Study Identifies Erosion as Threat to Local Water Supply

Note: This is the second in a three-part series of articles by Putah Creek Council to educate residents about a creek restoration project to improve water supply reliability in Solano County.

Water is diverted from Putah Creek for the cities of Vacaville, Fairfield, Suisun City, Benicia, and Vallejo via the Putah South Canal. The quality of the untreated water entering drinking water treatment plants can depend on the sediment coming out of Pleasants Creek, a major tributary to Putah Creek just north of Vacaville.

Putah Creek Streamkeeper, Rich Marovich, had trained his eye to Pleasants Creek for years as he watched ranchers lose acres to the hungry, aggressive creek during rain storms. “I had brought a number of river engineers out to Pleasants Creek to look at the erosion problems, and they all scratched their heads and said, ‘This is caused by cumulative effects,’ which meant to me that they didn’t know specifically what was causing the massive erosion, especially since we were seeing a complete re-formation of the creek in a few decades—something that normally takes thousands of years.” 

Erosion is a natural process that brings new gravel, cobble, and soil into a creek, replenishing what washed downstream in earlier storms. Excessive erosion can put so much fine sediment, or soil, into a creek that the creek flows brown and muddy for days. Water with a lot of soil in it can be challenging to clarify at local drinking water treatment plants.

Scientists can approximate the amount of fine sediment in water with a measure of turbidity, or how murky the water is, on a scale called Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTUs). In the US, typical drinking water standards require that treated water cannot exceed one NTU. To get the water this clear the sediment must be settled and filtered out of the water.

After one massive storm in 2002, Marovich became curious about the fate of all the soil washing downstream from Pleasants Creek. “I went to the North Bay Water Treatment Facility in Fairfield and asked them if they noticed a change in water quality following the storm. An engineer handed me a container full of muddy water that he had saved from when the storm water reached the treatment facility. At 3,200 NTU it was the highest NTU reading they had seen in twenty years. They brought in retired engineers to keep the plant running,” said Marovich.

During especially large storms in 2006 and 2008 the water in Pleasants Creek carried sediment loads in excess of 4,000 NTUs, and some downstream water treatment facilities along the Putah South Canal are unable to use the water, primarily due to high levels of turbidity. Several water treatment facilities had to bypass all Putah South Canal (i.e. Putah Creek) water and rely on limited storages of processed water until water quality improved in both Putah Creek and the Putah South Canal. By comparison, baseline non-storm conditions in both Pleasants Creek and the Putah South Canal are typically under 20 NTUs. 

Thankfully, the storms have been fairly short in duration. Water reserve tanks have finite capacity.

To get this massive amount of sediment out of the water, it needs to be settled out by gravity and then filtered through sand. However, gravity settling alone would be too slow to keep up with demand, so water treatment facilities add non-toxic compounds including alum (aluminum sulfate) and various polymers to speed the process along. The compounds aggregate the billions of tiny specks of soil into small flakes that are heavy enough to fall to the bottom of settling ponds.

A study commissioned by Solano County Water Agency pin-pointed the predominant source of sediment headed toward the water treatment facilities: Pleasants Creek. The same storms that caused erosion which ripped out acres of soil were delivering the soil to the drinking water treatment facilities for 400,000 water users downstream.

According to the 2010 report, entitled “Investigation of Sources of Turbidity, Sediment, and Aquatic Vegetation in Putah South Canal,” the increased water demand as cities continue to grow will put pressure on water treatment plants. “Increasing demand places greater constraints on the water treatment plants’ abilities to by-pass turbid water. Some plants, such as the Waterman Treatment Plant only have the system storage capacity to by-pass Putah South Canal water for 24 hours until they need to accommodate less desirable quality water to meet user demands.”

Much of the erosion along Pleasants Creek is due to Monticello Dam at Lake Berryessa, a massive dam on Putah Creek about seven miles upstream of Pleasants Creek. The process by which upstream dams cause erosion in downstream tributaries is covered in detail, including a slide presentation at www.putahcreekcouncil.org/news

Put another way: the instability of the banks along Pleasants Creek threatens the usability of the water supply secured by Monticello Dam, at least during storms. The unintended cascade of impacts following dam construction has important, and costly, ramifications for decades following the completion of the dam.

Thankfully, the State of California recognizes the important role functioning stream systems play in water supply security, and invests in projects to address erosion control. One such project is currently underway in Pleasants Creek.

Be sure to read next week’s third and final article in this educational series about local water supply: “Putting Nature to Work to Secure Solano’s Drinking Water Supply.” If you missed last week’s article on this topic, it’s available here.

Where Salmon Once Swam, Vacaville Pioneer Pilots Creek Restoration Project

NOTE: This is the first in a three-part series of articles by Putah Creek Council to educate residents about a creek restoration project to improve water supply reliability in Solano County.      

During the 1950s old car bodies whose engines had been removed were commonly embedded along river banks by self-reliant farmers who needed to control severe erosion, a method called ‘Detroit riprap.’ This method was employed by some along Putah Creek, including Ethel Hoskins’ family who owned much of Pleasants Creek. The use of Detriot riprap was sufficiently widespread that in the late 1990s when one of Ethel’s friends visited he looked at the banks of Pleasants Creek and joked about all the car bodies, “Wow, Ethel. That must have been quite a car wreck.”

Erosion is a natural process which moves soil and rock downhill and downstream, and an important force in shaping rivers. It is possible to have too much of a good thing: human activities occasionally speed up this process enough that erosion can threaten property and imperil drinking water supply.

Hoskins set out to find a permanent solution to the erosion problem in 2002.  With funding from a variety of local, state, and federal agencies, her ranch became a demonstration site for working with natural materials including rocks and native vegetation to help undo prior damage and prevent further degradation.

Hoskins has an easy laugh, sunny disposition, and wry sense of humor. As a life-long resident of Pleasants Creek, tributary to Putah Creek, Hoskins likes to laugh about the fact that she is the granddaughter of the original 1850 homesteader on the creek: William James Pleasant. Hoskins is quick to point out that after 150 years, she remains on the original homestead with only three generations separating herself from the man who homesteaded much of 4,000 acres of Pleasants Valley.  

William James Pleasants came to Pleasants Valley in 1850 after leaving Bidwell’s Bar gold mining operation just months before the gold miners struck gold near Chico. He never looked back, “This was a better strike than any gold I could imagine,” Ethel remembers her grandfather quipping about the ranch.

Even today, a visit to the homestead feels like a step back in time. Men with thick hands buzz about the property, eager to volunteer to keep the place in working order to preserve a glimpse back to days gone by. John Knowles, ranch manager, was eager to join in the conversation about the 2002 creek project that stabilized the creek and brought back much of the wildlife that enriches the area. “It’s a different creek today than it was before the project. When you go down there today, it’s peaceful. It’s beautiful. For a while, you are someplace else.”

Hoskins has her grandfather’s daily journals, dating back to the mid-1800s. Wildlife in the Putah Creek tributary was abundant. He wrote of hunting bear, elk, and antelope on the property, and catching steelhead upstream of the homestead on a tiny tributary to Pleasants Creek.

“How many elk, bear, antelope roamed this area? We will never know. We do have one heck of a creek now, even if it’s not entirely what it once was. We have mink, otters, beaver, bluebirds. We have documented 119 species of birds on the property,” Knowles gladly reported.

The changes present at the ranch today are a result of concerted effort to reduce erosion using native plants and natural materials, control invasive weeds, and welcome wildlife back to a portion of its former range.

In moderation, erosion is not a problem, it is even beneficial. Erosion is a natural process that brings new gravel, cobble, and soil into a creek, replenishing what washed downstream in earlier storms.  

The troublesome erosion in Pleasants Creek began in the 1950s, soon after the completion of Monticello Dam and Lake Berryessa. During the dam-building push after World War II, few understood the unintended consequences of damming a river. While some worried about the impact it would have on salmon and other wildlife, few if any understood the impact it would have on tributary creeks downstream of dams.

Decades of experience and dozens of dammed rivers later we have a better understanding of the complex relationship between dams and erosion. Few anticipated one of the largest unintended consequences of dams: they often cause massive erosion in downstream tributaries. For more information on the mechanics of this process, visit www.putahcreekcouncil.org/news

Hoskins remembers Pleasants Creek as a moderate dip in the landscape, perhaps fifteen feet deep and thirty feet wide. The accelerated erosion since the completion of Monticello Dam dug the channel up to forty feet deep and 100 feet wide, with sheer cliff walls void of any vegetation. As acres of land washed away during storms, heritage oaks were lost to the creek.

Native plants, plants which evolved in the region and provide erosion control and wildlife habitat, could not survive on the resulting sheer walls of Pleasants Creek.

The residents along Pleasants Creek, shocked at the sudden change, began arming banks with Detroit riprap and the California Conservation Corps came in to plant a “miracle” plant: arundo. Arundo is a false bamboo that was then-believed to be a silver bullet for halting erosion—it grew quickly, spread rapidly, and needed no additional water or maintenance.

Many of the very characteristics that made it a go-to in the 1950s are what make arundo so problematic to eradicate now that we understand the problems it causes.

Like many invasive weeds, arundo displaces native plants that provide wildlife habitat. And while arundo grows quickly, it does not prevent erosion—it accelerates it. The tough, upright stalks impede flow, slow water velocity, and cause fine sediment to accumulate among the plants. The stalks essentially bury themselves in sediment and act like rebar in concrete forming hardened pillars during storm flows, deflecting water away from the plant and toward the banks. In areas where arundo is thick it is common for the water to carve a new channel around the arundo rather than pass through it, making the erosion problem even worse.

Another life-long resident of Pleasants Creek, Coy Nichols, has witnessed erosion eating away at his land. He believes the creek has deepened thirty feet along his property since the 1950s. One stormy night the creek cut back his bank sixty feet into his orchard for 280 linear feet. “When the bottom gets washed out, the top comes crumbling down,” said Nichols, describing the process of the creek undercutting the banks and causing them to collapse due to gravity.

Putah Creek is dammed twice before it reaches Winters: once at Monticello Dam to create Lake Berryessa, and again less than ten miles downstream at the Putah Diversion Dam to create Lake Solano. Pleasants Creek joins Putah Creek just upstream of the Putah Diversion Dam, so the massive sediment it carries downstream during storms is delivered to Lake Solano—the diversion point for water heading south to Solano County for drinking water and agriculture.

Such massive amounts of sediment being dumped into the diversion point for a significant portion of the drinking water for Solano County makes treating the water to drinking water standards very complicated. This problem can be very expensive to address.

See next week’s article, “Study Identifies Erosion as Threat to Local Water Supply” to learn about how erosion and sediment impact an important drinking water source for Solano County.  

For more information about this project, please click here.

 

Putting Nature to Work to Secure Solano’s Drinking Water Supply

Note: This is the third in a three-part series of articles by Putah Creek Council to educate residents about a creek restoration project to improve water supply reliability in Solano County.

In 2010 Putah Creek Streamkeeper, Rich Marovich, applied for and was awarded the “Pleasants Creek Sediment Reduction Project” from Proposition 50 water bonds through the State Water Resources Control Board to address erosion coming from Pleasants Creek, a tributary to Putah Creek. The work intends to stabilize eroding stream banks which deliver so much sediment downstream during rain storms that it threatens the reliability of one of Solano County’s drinking water sources: Putah Creek.

Unprecedented erosion along Pleasants Creek began shortly after the completion of Monticello Dam on Putah Creek. The dam creates Lake Berryessa, a major source of drinking and irrigation water for Solano County during the summer.

During rain storms, Pleasants Creek swells in size, sending thousands of gallons per second into Putah Creek. However, Monticello Dam retains the water which would have naturally flowed down Putah Creek, keeping Putah Creek fairly small even during storms. Because the magnitude of storm flows on Putah and its tributary Pleasants Creek are now unequal, Pleasants Creek enters Putah Creek at a steeper slope, essentially a mini-waterfall. Pleasants Creek began to down-cut and widen to disperse its energy, causing massive erosion. Pleasants Creek and other tributaries downstream of Monticello Dam are now roughly three times deep and wider than before the dam was constructed. More detail on this process is available at www.putahcreekcouncil.org/news

Ranchers living along Pleasants Creek began to lose land to erosion at an alarming rate after the completion of Monticello Dam. They armed creek banks with an invasive plant, arundo (a false bamboo), in the hopes that it would curb the erosion and prevent their land from being washed away.

Within a decade, the opposite happened: arundo had spread so aggressively that it sped up erosion. “At the time, the federal government was promoting arundo as a cure-all for erosion,” said Marovich. “What they didn’t realize is that because arundo is not native to this area it does not behave favorably during storm flows. Our native streamside plants like willow lay flat during storm flows, allowing water to pass with little obstruction while their roots hold streambanks in place. Arundo does the opposite—it’s like having millions of cement pillars in a creek, each of which stands rigid during storms, sending raging water into unprotected banks and promoting streambank failure,” said Marovich.

Marovich is now at the helm of a three-year project to begin addressing the massive erosion in Pleasants Creek, the first step of which is to control arundo.

“We need to control the weeds before we can address the erosion. As was demonstrated at Ethel Hoskins’ ranch in 2002, once we get the arundo under control we can bring in heavy equipment to re-shape the banks from sheer cliffs of soil into a sloped hillside which will support native vegetation, said Marovich. “Native plants are the binding ingredient to making all of this work,” he added.

Marovich’s team will work with willing landowners to survey high priority sites, treat arundo, and install native plants at places where arundo was removed. The re-shaped banks will be armored by native plants, and the stream flow will be directed away from vulnerable banks using lines of boulders in the channel. The lines of boulders will be placed by trained stream engineers into structures which re-direct the water’s energy away from eroding banks using a method called bio-engineering.

A pilot project at Hoskins’ ranch in 2002 stabilized an eroding bank with boulders and vegetation that withstood high flows in 2006 and 2008 without damage.  The project created gently sloped floodplains along the flow channel where native vegetation now flourishes. The boulders have disappeared under thickets of willow, rushes, cattails and other native vegetation in what was previously a barren and vertical streambank. The vegetated floodplains slow flood flows and protect the banks from being undermined. The native vegetation also provides habitat for watchable wildlife.

“The construction of two big box stores in Fairfield generated a tremendous amount of boulders that we will use in this and other projects. The companies needed a place to take the waste rock, and were even able to truck it to us. Such collaborations have stretched our budget, and will allow us to serve more landowners,” said Marovich.

Marovich went on to clarify that, “None of the methods can be used in isolation. No quantity of boulders could stabilize the streambed unless we first control the arundo, slope back the banks in high-priority areas, and then use the boulders to direct the stream flow away from vulnerable banks. Moreover, the long-term success of this project hinges on establishing native plants in disturbed areas. Native plants’ roots will form a web of deep-reaching roots which will provide the strongest erosion protection possible,” said Marovich.

Native plants not only provide superior erosion control, they also provide habitat for wildlife. “Our partnership has been monitoring wildlife at restoration sites along Putah Creek for about fifteen years. Once native vegetation is restored to the landscape, native wildlife follows. We’re often amazed at how quickly birds move back into a restored area that was once dominated by impenetrable thickets of weeds,” said Marovich.

Hoskins agreed. “I have my grandfather’s journals dating back to the mid-1800s, and he documented everything from farm yields to weather to wildlife. We’re never going to see what he witnessed, but as I’ve watched wildlife return to my land over the past decade it’s been very gratifying to see that doing right by my land has brought back some of the richness my grandfather enjoyed.”

The project will continue through December 2014.

Hoskins hopes many landowners will choose to participate. “What is the benefit to keeping it how it is?” she asked. One of the project partners on Ethel’s 2002 project likened the project to giving the creek back its peace. “I really like that,” said Ethel. “It does feel more peaceful down there now.”

While no one anticipates rolling back the hands of time, project success will increase the reliability of water supplies downstream, reduce invasive weeds delivered to downstream locations, and increase wildlife habitat. Given the success of the similar pilot project at Ethel Hoskins’ ranch in 2002, the project team anticipates similar results for more Pleasants Creek landowners in the coming years, and helping Pleasants Creek—and landowners, wildlife, and downstream water users—find more peace.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, please visit the Pleasant Creek Project page. When the rains return this fall, Putah Creek Council will organize groups of volunteers to help replant restored areas with native plants. If you’d like to hear about tree planting opportunities, sign up for Putah Creek Council’s e-newsletter on the home page at www.putahcreekcouncil.org

Readers of this paper are invited to take a quiz about what they learned from this article. A winner will be randomly drawn from all entries, regardless of how many answers are correct, in October. The winner will get $100 cash. Deadlines and the quiz are available here.

 

Staff

Kent Anderson
Executive Director
kent (at) putahcreekcouncil (dot) org

Karin Young
Education Program Manager
karin (at) putahcreekcouncil (dot) org

Brian Keeley
Stewardship Program Manager
brian (at) putahcreekcouncil (dot) org

Nina L.
Program Assistant
nina (at) putahcreekcouncil (dot) org

Tyler Tiffin
Office Assistant
tyler (at) putahcreekcouncil (dot) org

North Davis Greenbelt Landscaping: August 19th Meeting Recap

The North Davis Riparian Greenbelt Project has two phases:

  1. Replacing weeds with native riparian plants within the channel, and
  2. Creating environmental education areas along the greenbelt

We have finished planning the first phase, and are now planning the second.

At the community meeting on August 19, 2013, community members discussed four potential areas of focus, and opened a dialogue about what community members would most like to see, and where they would like to see it. 

Notes from the August 19th community meeting are at this link. You will be able to add your comments and suggestions at the bottom of the same page

North Davis Riparian Greenbelt: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Was the project planned prior to the first public meeting?

A: No. This project was stalled due to administrative issues with the contract for two years until late 2012, yet the funding will still expire in March 2015. The ideas presented at the January 15, 2013 meeting were generated prior to the meeting by the project team simply to jump-start the conversation with the community. Input from the January 15 community meeting, other communications from community members, additional advisory committee meetings, and communications with City of Davis staff will all be used to draft a restoration plan for discussion in our next community meeting and in permit applications.

Q: Will the project remove the healthbeat stations?

A: No. The project will not remove the healthbeat stations. At the January 15, 2013 meeting we did present some initial ideas of moving some of the stations to accommodate educational areas, though community input has made it clear that new zones to be developed should be placed in areas which are not currently occupied by the heathbeat stations. We could improve some of the stations, if there is enough interest. The only greenbelt “removal” to be considered is the gazebo in Bird Entry Park.

Q: Have you analyzed the impact of the project on flood control?

A: This project includes a flood analysis by a licensed, professional engineer. The forthcoming project plans will require engineering review and permits both by the City and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board prior to any significant field work.UPDATE, AUGUST 26, 2013: The Central Valley Flood Protection Board approved our application for this project.  

Q: Have you analyzed the impact of the project on fire hazards?

A: The City of Davis Fire Marshall evaluated the channel’s current fire hazard. The project will be designed not to exacerbate such risks.

Q: Will the project remove existing trees, including eucalyptus trees along the bike path?

A: Based on public input, trees along the bike path and in the channel are ongoing. 

Q: Will this project help create a recreational trail in the channel or along the farm-side of the channel?

A: No. The City of Davis is interested in retaining current uses of the channel and not encouraging further use by creating a formal trail that would need to be maintained.

Q: Will dogs continued to be allowed in the channel? Will it become an off-leash dog park?

A: Dogs and their two-legged companions will always be welcomed in the channel. City regulations will still apply: the area is not an official off-leash area. This project will not change that designation.

Q: Will kids still be free to ride bikes and explore the area, or will it become a “nature preserve?”

A: Kids will remain welcomed in the channel, and we anticipate that some of their activities (building ramps, BMX tracks) could impact portions of the restoration vegetation. Once established, native plants will be relatively resistant to rough use.

Q: What are the plans to create a “Friend of” type group to support this channel after the project is established?

A: We will learn from Friends of West Davis Pond and will facilitate the development of such a group for this channel. Our project advisory committee, which consists of local community members who are interested in the channel, could turn into such a group.

Q: Who will be responsible for the channel after the term of the project?

A: After the project term, maintenance of the channel and greenbelt landscaping will revert back to the City of Davis. The project is intended to reduce maintenance with less-weedy landscaping.

 

 

Notes from Stewardship Team Members

"Volunteering with Putah Creek Council is a very satisfying and rewarding experience for me. Knowing that I'm helping make a precious habitat healthier for wildlife helps me to sleep better at night!" --

"I have lived in this area for over a year now, without learning about its ecology and without making any positive contribution. This group seemed like the perfect place to do both. After volunteering one time with PCC, I was certain I wanted to be part of it." --

"I volunteer with PCC to help restore this beautiful creek back towards its natural state, perhaps somewhat like Patwin natives might have experienced." --

"I didn't grow up in this part of the US, so helping restore Putah Creek is my way of getting to really know this place....When I am on pavement and asphalt I could be anywhere, but the creek is unique." --

"I love watching kids discover the creek through restoration. Not only do they learn about the ecology of an important resource in their community, but they also learn to work together to accomplish something they can be proud of. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this experience with them." --

"Putah Creek Council is my favorite local travel agency. Volunteering with PCC almost always is an opportunity to explore a whole new nook of the wood. Putah Creek is a defining feature of our local landscape but it is often easy to overlook. Being involved with PCC allows me to learn about the wonderful creek that connects the people in our county." --

"When I first discovered that Putah Creek exists, I was amazed. A flowing creek with nesting orioles and ash-throated fly catchers amongst a field of walnut orchards--amazing! I was even more thrilled to find out there was an organization that was working to improve the creek's ecosystem and connect the community with the fascinating creek system that surrounds us." --

 

Putah Creek Council Stewardship Team

Putah Creek Council's Stewardship Team is core to everything we do: they are the heart and soul of our habitat enhancement projectsnative plant nursery, and creek cleanups.

Stewardship Team members multiply the effectiveness of Putah Creek Council and the work we can do on behalf of the wild (and human!) communities which depend on this place. Our team is diverse, and each person has a different reason for joining. As one Steward said, "After volunteering one time with PCC, I was certain I wanted to be a part of it!" See what other Stewardship Team members are saying about their experience.

It's not an exaggeration to say that we accomplish what we do because of this dedicated team of community stewards!

Stewardship Team volunteers commit to a year-long leadership position within Putah Creek Council. They act as mentors to other community volunteers. They provide guidance in proper planting techniques during field events, help interpret local ecology to the public, help with native plant propagation and care at our nursery, act as site captains during creek cleanup, and help with preparation and clean up before and after events. 

Are you interested in becoming at Stewardship Team member? See details below. If you prefer to attend events as a community volunteer, we welcome you, too! Find upcoming events on our calendar

Stewardship Team members must:

  • attend 2 annual training days
  • commit to co-leading at least five community volunteer events per year
  • be at least 18 years of age 
  • be able to provide own transportation to and from events
  • be willing to work outside in all types of weather and terrain

Our annual training may include:

  • an overview of Putah Creek Council history, mission and current projects
  • learning from various local experts about creek restoration projects, Putah Creek history and ecology, native plants, pollinators, fish, and other wildlife,
  • helpful techniques for interpreting the natural world to volunteers and creek visitors, and
  • hands-on demonstrations and practice in proper planting techniques.

If you are interested in joining Putah Creek Council’s Stewardship Team, please call Brian Keeley at 530-795-3006 or email brian@putahcreekcouncil.org.

2012 Putah Creek Cleanup

The 2012 Putah Creek Cleanup was a fantastic success, with over 80 volunteers in attendance. Volunteers removed over 3,900 pounds of trash from Putah Creek, including 126 spray paint cans!

A special thanks to Winters teacher Rebecca Fridae for encouraging so many of her students, past and present, to attend!

See photos of the event at this link.

Putah Creek Cleanups

Every year Putah Creek Council volunteers turn out in droves to remove illegally dumped items and litter from Putah Creek. Every year we have more volunteers, and every year we find less trash. The creek cleanup event brings more volunteers out to the creek than any other individual project, and is a beloved part of what the Putah Creek Council community does to care for the creek.

We are making great strides, but we can't do it without you. 

If you have not seen it, we recommend that you watch this entertaining video to learn about how accidental litter makes it way into our creek, and out to the Pacific Ocean. Do your part: put litter in its place, and help keep our creeks clean!

In 2017, Putah Creek Council and the City of Davis talked about the annual California Coastal Cleanup Day on Lois Richter's That's Life radio show on Davis KDRT 95.7. Listen to the interview here.

Visit the links below to learn more about our past cleanup events.

 

Putah Creek Cleanup Archives

2019 Spring

2018 Fall

2018 Spring

2017 Fall

2016 Fall

2015 Fall

2014 Fall

2013 Fall

2012 Fall

2011 Fall

2010 Fall

2009 Fall

2008 Fall

2007 Fall

2006 Fall

2005 Fall, 2005 Spring

2004 Fall, 2004 Spring

2003 Fall, 2003 Spring

North Davis Channel

Join UC Davis at Cache Creek Conservancy for a day of story telling and exploration. Details about the Saturday, October 20 event are at this link

Pleasants Creek Erosion Reduction

A project funded by State Water Resources Control Board to reduce excessive sediment from Pleasants Creek.

Project timeline: August 2012-September 2015.

The information at the following links tells the story of the project and expected long-term outcomes. 

1: Where Salmon Once Swam, Vacaville Pioneer Pilots Creek Restoration Project

2: Study Identifies Erosion as Threat to Local Water Supply

3: Putting Nature to Work to Secure Solano’s  Drinking Water Supply

4: Unintended Consequences of Monticello Dam

 

The following people have volunteered with this project since 2013:

Our Mission, Vision, Values, and Guiding Principles

MISSION

Putah Creek Council protects and enhances Putah Creek, its watershed, and tributaries through advocacy, education and community-based stewardship.

VISION

We envision Putah Creek as a thriving corridor of native riparian and aquatic ecosystems connecting the Coast Ranges to the Sacramento River and the Delta. We envision a Putah Creek watershed community of people who value their creek and are committed to its stewardship.

VALUES

  • We connect our programs and communities to Putah Creek, its tributaries, and the watershed.
  • We base our advocacy, education, and stewardship on sound science.
  • We are inclusive, transparent, and non-adversarial. 
  • We respect the private property rights of landowners along the creek. 
  • We provide accessible science to people and empower them with this knowledge. 
  • We encourage a culture of respect and appreciation for Putah Creek among diverse communities of people. 
  • We work diligently to protect and enhance the many values of Putah Creek as its guardian and advocate. 
  • We are a grassroots organization that engages volunteers, in cooperation with landowners and agencies managing public and private lands throughout the creek and its watershed.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • Putah Creek Council bases its advocacy and restoration policies, practices, and priorities on the best available scientific information. The Council encourages research, planning, and cooperative ventures that will lead to the improved health of the creek.
  • The Council’s legal and advocacy strategies focus on constructive ends that will clearly benefit the long-term health of the creek. The Council pursues these activities in a civil, respectful, and professional manner with all participating parties.
  • The Council places primary importance on protecting and enhancing the natural resource values of the creek. Other considerations, such as public access and recreational use, are secondary to the natural resource values.
  • The Council considers landowners (both public and private) the primary stewards of their land, and recognizes that all planning and coordination related to Putah Creek restoration must consider the concerns, interests, and rights of landowners.
  • The Council is guided by the knowledge that pubic understanding of Putah Creek’s history and environmental assests is the basis for continuing public support for the creek. Public engagement in the restoration process deepens understanding of the creek’s resources and condition, even as their work directly improves the health of the creek.
  • The Council’s past success has been enhanced by its focus on activities that directly benefit its mission. Though interested in the overall health of the Putah Creek watershed, the Council places secondary importance on general watershed or environmental issues not directly related to the riparian corridors of lower Putah Creek and its tributaries.
  • While Putah Creek Council recognizes the value of studying the lessons learned in other watersheds, it also is aware of the unique aspects of Putah Creek that require different or modified strategies. For example, Putah Creek is an east-flowing stream in the Coast Range, does not receive significant inflow from the watershed in its lower reaches, and much of its riparian land is held by private landowners.
  • The foundation of Putah Creek Council’s work to foster personal and community understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of Putah Creek is the involvement of dedicated and informed volunteers, supported where possible by the work of paid staff.
  • The Council recognizes that its work should benefit all residents in the Putah Creek watershed, and values the inclusion of all residents in its activities.  

Adopt A Flat, 2014

 

Putah Creek Council is pleased to offer in-class environmental education in the 2013-2014 school year through our Adopt-a-Flat program. In this program students raise native plants in the classroom and plant them along Putah Creek to improve wildlife habitat.  The program provides an opportunity for hands-on learning about native plants, soil, wildlife, and water quality. Adopt-a -Flat is designed for fourth grade level, but is appropriate for 3/4 and 4/5 combo as well.

Our watershed education program is tailored to fit the needs of teachers by providing core science curriculum and experiential learning opportunities. Through two in-class presentations and a field trip to Putah Creek, we hope to engage students in cooperative experiences that benefit each learner.

Program elements include:

  • In-class visits from PCC education staff to introduce the project and help students seed flats of native plants to be grown in the classroom
  • In-class activities which connect the project with California science standards
  • A field trip to Putah Creek, or outdoor area, for students to plant their natives. Field trips provide students a great opportunity to visit their local creek, see wildlife, and enhance wildlife habitat.

Salmon in the Classroom

Putah Creek Council is pleased to offer a new, in-class environmental education program in the 2013-2014 school year: Salmon in the Classroom. This program provides an opportunity for hands-on learning about native fish, streamside habitat, wildlife, and water quality as students raise salmon, from eggs, in your classroom. The program can be tailored to any grade.

Our watershed education program provides core science curriculum and experiential learning opportunities. Through three in-class presentations and an opportunity to take a field trip to the Yolo Bypass, we hope to engage students in cooperative experiences that benefit each learner.

Program elements include:

  • In-class visit from PCC education staff to introduce the project
  • In-class activities lead by PCC education staff which connect the project with California science standards
  • A field trip to the Yolo Bypass to provide students with an opportunity to visit a local wetland, see wildlife and learn about wetland habitats. 

 

Winters Trash Project, 2014

This spring, Wolfskill High School students will start the Winters Trash Project. Working with teacher Charlotte Kimball, students will collect trash and recyclables off the streets in Winters and keep record of how much trash they are preventing from entering Putah Creek. The collected trash will be encased in large bins and put on display in the Putah Creek Council side yard at 106-C Main Street. Come by and take a look!

Putah Creek Club, 2014

Putah Creek Club starts in January for selected Winters 6th graders.

Putah Creek Club aims to connect local youth to Putah Creek in an effort to promote the next
generation of creek stewards. This spring we will continue to work with Rebecca Fridae and Alejandro Rojas Garcia to provide an opportunity for students to connect to Putah Creek.Students will alternate between bi-monthly “Explore” events lead by Alejandro Rojas Garcia and “Restore” Events lead by Putah Creek Council staff. 

Last spring, Putah Creek Club activities included: about native plants and animals, how to recognize common birds, and how to identify animal tracks. They also tried their hand at restoration activities such as preparing bare root roses, installing drip irrigation, and planting oaks. After participating in Putah Creek Club as 6th graders, students have the option of continuing their involvement by acting as mentors when they are in 7th and 8th grade.

Programs and Projects

Restoration
Dig into habitat enhancement and restoration with native vegetation planting and invasive plant removal projects.

Native Plant Nursery and Plant Propagation
Help us grow native plants from local seed sources.

Creek Cleanups
Every year Putah Creek Council holds at least one major creek cleanup event. Over 100 volunteers come to remove litter and dumped items from the creek.

Insect Monitoring
Putah Creek Council volunteers work with expert aquatic ecologists to monitor species composition in the creek.

Education
We work in K-8 classrooms to provide hands-on education. Also, CreekSpeak runs from May-October to discuss nature, art, and culture in the bioregion.

Internships
Putah Creek Council has summer internships available for local residents ages 16 and older.

Advocacy and Collaboration
Putah Creek Council is a voice for Putah Creek. We work with other regional groups to support and collaborate on local habitat enhancement and environmental education.

Adopt A Flat, 2013

 

In 2013, we saw the return of two education programs that had been dormant for several years. First, the Adopt A Flat program, where students raise native plants in the classroom and then plant them along the creek to improve wildlife habitat. This program provides an opportunity for hands-on learning about native plants, soil, wildlife and water quality. Fourth grade students from Shirley Rominger Elementary in Winters and Dingle Elementary in Woodland raised wildflowers in their classrooms and planted them along Putah Creek in Winters during a half day field trip. During the field trip students also learned about the creek food web and created ephemeral art in the flood plain. 

Through a collaboration with Wild Campus, a student run UC Davis conservation club, several additional elementary schools in Davis were also able to participate in the Adopt A Flat program.

Thank you to Luna Vista Rotary, for their generous support of this program, and to the numerous volunteers who assisted with the classroom lessons and the field trips.

To find out more about the second education program to emerge from dormancy in 2013, click here.

Classroom Education

Classroom Projects

We work in K-8 classrooms to provide hands-on education.  

Adopt a Flat, 2014

Putah Creek Club, 2014

Salmon in the Classroom, 2014

Winters Trash Project, 2014

Adopt a Flat, 2013

Putah Creek Club, 2013

 

 

Contribute today

 

Putah Creek Council welcomes you our community! We hope you will consider making a financial contribution to help us continue our important work. I visit our membership sign up page, please click this link.

North Davis Riparian Greenbelt: An Urban Greening Project

The North Davis Riparian Greenbelt project will "green" a storm water channel in north Davis by replacing weeds with drought-tolerant native plants, establishing trees to shade the channel, and creating educational areas to learn about native plants and sustainable landscape management. Funding for this project is provided by the Strategic Growth Council's Urban Greening Program, funded by the voters of California via Proposition 84. Project objectives and partners are at this link

To stay informed about this project, enter your email below so we can keep in touch. 

 
 
If you would like to volunteer, see our events listings for opportunities along the channel and other local natural areas, or consider joining the "Friends of the North Davis Ditch." More information about the Friends group is available at this link.

Current activities in the channel and along the bike path: January - February 2017: 

  • Thursday, January 5: Yolo County RCD staff will be spot-spraying weeds as weather permits.
  • Wednesday, January 11: Putah Creek Council & Yolo County RCD staff will be removing drip irrigation systems in Sections 3 & 4, house side and adding grass seed in bare spots on the channel.

PHASE 1: Replanting the channel with native plants

  • Please see this link for the final plans, approved by Davis City Council
  • The specifics of the project were determined based on community input, City maintenance needs, and habitat value. Click here to view comments on the plans, and click here to visit frequently asked questions about the project. 
  • Channel planting began Fall 2013. Phase 1 activities are now maintenance, weeding, and monitoring plant success.

PHASE 2: Environmental Education Areas

  • The first community meeting was held August 19, 2013. 
  • Construction: October 2014
  • Final plans are available on this page. Due to budget restraints, some elements had to be cut from the final installations (such as benches). If you are interested in donating a memorial bench in the North Davis Greenbelt, please contact the City of Davis Parks and Community Service Department at (530) 757-5626.
  • PDFs of the Interpretive Panels, landscape guides, and links to additional resources are available at this page.

Seasonal project schedule:

Spring, 2013 Summer, 2013 Fall, 2013 Winter, 2013-2014 Spring, 2014 Summer, 2014 Fall, 2014 Winter, 2014-2015 Spring, 2015

1) Planning channel planting elements

1) Plan landscape elements;  2) Initial weed control;  3) Tree limbing and targeted removals

1) Student and community planting events

1) Student and community planting events;   2) Installation of bird and owl boxes 

1) Student and community planting events,  2) Irrigation;  3) Weed control

1) Irrigation, weed control

1) Irrigation, weeding, monitoring plant success;  2) Installation of educational landscape elements

1) Community re-planting events

1) Weed control

The following people have volunteered with this project since 2013:

 

 

About Putah Creek Council

Putah Creek Council is a community of people who care about Putah Creek.

We are nature enthusiasts.

We are volunteers.

We work so our creek and community will thrive. 

Butzin

Hein

Lechmaier

Marovich

Riggs

Sanders

Elwood

Herr

Velas

Wellington

Garcia Rojas

Mawdsley

Davis

Lindley

McCord

Conrad

Whitworth

Explore Putah Creek

Explore the Creek

Putah Creek provides nature nearby for us to explore, study, enjoy, and appreciate.

There are variety of ways to help enhance and restore the Putah Creek watershed.

If you are eager to help, we are eager to have you.

We have volunteer opportunities through scheduled volunteer events and special projects.

Help Restore and Enhance Putah Creek

Support our Work on Putah Creek

Putah Creek Council depends on the generosity of people like you.

Putah Creek and Putah Creek Council would not be what they are today without the support we receive from our community. Please volunteer or donate today.

Contact

Contact Us

Stop by our office.

Be in touch.

We love hearing from you.

Spring 2004

Fall 2004

Spring 2005

Fall 2008

Spring 2008

Fall 2007

Spring 2007

Spring 2006

Fall 2006

Fall 2005

Spring 2009

Spring 2010

Fall 2011

Fall 2012

Fall 2013

Adopt A Flat

Putah Creek Council is pleased to offer in-class environmental education in the 2013-2014 school year through our Adopt-a-Flat program. In this program students raise native plants in the classroom and plant them along Putah Creek to improve wildlife habitat.  The program provides an opportunity for hands-on learning about native plants, soil, wildlife, and water quality. Adopt-a -Flat is designed for fourth grade level, but is appropriate for 3/4 and 4/5 combo as well.

Our watershed education program is tailored to fit the needs of teachers by providing core science curriculum and experiential learning opportunities. Through two in-class presentations and a field trip to Putah Creek, we hope to engage students in cooperative experiences that benefit each learner.

Program elements include:

  • In-class visits from PCC education staff to introduce the project and help students seed flats of native plants to be grown in the classroom
  • In-class activities which connect the project with California science standards
  • A field trip to Putah Creek, or outdoor area, for students to plant their natives. Field trips provide students a great opportunity to visit their local creek, see wildlife, and enhance wildlife habitat.

 

Friends of the North Davis Ditch

Join the Friends of the North Davis Ditch! This informal group of volunteers will work with the Yolo Resource Conservation District (RCD) to continue to establish and care for native plants along The Ditch. Volunteers are welcome to work with the group on Wednesday mornings from 8:30 - 11 AM, or volunteers can work independently at a time convenient to the volunteer (on projects assigned by RCD staff). The Yolo RCD staff will provide tools and direction to the group on Wednesday mornings. Volunteers do NOT need to come every week but rather can join as their time and interest dictate. 

If you have questions about the group, or would like to help lead the group, please contact Karin Petrites, (510) 517-6410.

Please let us know you are interested by signing up below. We will send the Friends occasional emails about upcoming tasks, and meeting points for the group on Wednesday mornings.

Putah Creek Club, 2014

Putah Creek Club starts in January for selected Winters 6th graders.

Putah Creek Club aims to connect local youth to Putah Creek in an effort to promote the next generation of creek stewards. This spring we will continue to work with Rebecca Fridae and Alejandro Rojas Garcia to provide an opportunity for students to connect to Putah Creek.Students will alternate between bi-monthly “Explore” events lead by Alejandro Rojas Garcia and “Restore” Events lead by Putah Creek Council staff.

Last spring, Putah Creek Club activities included: about native plants and animals, how to recognize common birds, and how to identify animal tracks. They also tried their hand at restoration activities such as preparing bare root roses, installing drip irrigation, and planting oaks. After participating in Putah Creek Club as 6th graders, students have the option of continuing their involvement by acting as mentors when they are in 7th and 8th grade.

Salmon in the Classroom, 2014

Putah Creek Council is pleased to offer a new, in-class environmental education program in the 2013-2014 school year: Salmon in the Classroom. This program provides an opportunity for hands-on learning about native fish, streamside habitat, wildlife, and water quality as students raise salmon, from eggs, in your classroom. The program can be tailored to any grade.

Our watershed education program provides core science curriculum and experiential learning opportunities. Through three in-class presentations and an opportunity to take a field trip to the Yolo Bypass, we hope to engage students in cooperative experiences that benefit each learner.

Program elements include:

  • In-class visit from PCC education staff to introduce the project
  • In-class activities lead by PCC education staff which connect the project with California science standards
  • A field trip to the Yolo Bypass to provide students with an opportunity to visit a local wetland, see wildlife and learn about wetland habitats.

Winters Trash Project, 2014

This spring, Wolfskill High School students will start the Winters Trash Project. Working with teacher Charlotte Kimball, students will collect trash and recyclables off the streets in Winters and keep record of how much trash they are preventing from entering Putah Creek. The collected trash will be encased in large bins and put on display in the Putah Creek Council side yard at 106-C Main Street. Come by and take a look!

Adopt A Flat, 2013

In 2013, we saw the return of two education programs that had been dormant for several years. First, the Adopt A Flat program, where students raise native plants in the classroom and then plant them along the creek to improve wildlife habitat. This program provides an opportunity for hands-on learning about native plants, soil, wildlife and water quality. Fourth grade students from Shirley Rominger Elementary in Winters and Dingle Elementary in Woodland raised wildflowers in their classrooms and planted them along Putah Creek in Winters during a half day field trip. During the field trip students also learned about the creek food web and created ephemeral art in the flood plain.

Through a collaboration with Wild Campus, a student run UC Davis conservation club, several additional elementary schools in Davis were also able to participate in the Adopt A Flat program.

Thank you to Luna Vista Rotary, for their generous support of this program, and to the numerous volunteers who assisted with the classroom lessons and the field trips.

 

Putah Creek Club, 2013

Spring of 2013 also saw the return of Putah Creek Club. Putah Creek Club aims to connect local youth to Putah Creek in an effort to promote the next generation of creek stewards.

Five 6th grade students from Winters Middle School participated in Putah Creek Club. Students alternated between attending "Explore" events lead by Alejandro Rojas Garcia and "Restore" Events lead by Putah Creek Council staff; Libby, Sara and Martha. While "Exploring" with Alejandro, PCC Club members learned about the plants and animals native to Putah Creek. They also tried their hand at restoration activities such as preparing bare root roses, installing drip irrigation, and planting oaks.

Many thanks go out to Alejandro for his vision and dedication and to Rebecca Fridae for providing transportation and serving as a mentor and role model.

North Davis Riparian Greenbelt: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Was the project planned prior to the first public meeting?

A: No. This project was stalled due to administrative issues with the contract for two years until late 2012, yet the funding will still expire in March 2015. The ideas presented at the January 15, 2013 meeting were generated prior to the meeting by the project team simply to jump-start the conversation with the community. Input from the January 15 community meeting, other communications from community members, additional advisory committee meetings, and communications with City of Davis staff will all be used to draft a restoration plan for discussion in our next community meeting and in permit applications.

Q: Will the project remove the healthbeat stations?

A: No. The project will not remove the healthbeat stations. At the January 15, 2013 meeting we did present some initial ideas of moving some of the stations to accommodate educational areas, though community input has made it clear that new zones to be developed should be placed in areas which are not currently occupied by the heathbeat stations. We could improve some of the stations, if there is enough interest. The only greenbelt “removal” to be considered is the gazebo in Bird Entry Park.

Q: Have you analyzed the impact of the project on flood control?

A: This project includes a flood analysis by a licensed, professional engineer. The forthcoming project plans will require engineering review and permits both by the City and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board prior to any significant field work.UPDATE, AUGUST 26, 2013: The Central Valley Flood Protection Board approved our application for this project.

Q: Have you analyzed the impact of the project on fire hazards?

A: The City of Davis Fire Marshall evaluated the channel’s current fire hazard. The project will be designed not to exacerbate such risks.

Q: Will the project remove existing trees, including eucalyptus trees along the bike path?

A: Based on public input, trees along the bike path and in the channel are ongoing.

Q: Will this project help create a recreational trail in the channel or along the farm-side of the channel?

A: No. The City of Davis is interested in retaining current uses of the channel and not encouraging further use by creating a formal trail that would need to be maintained.

Q: Will dogs continued to be allowed in the channel? Will it become an off-leash dog park?

A: Dogs and their two-legged companions will always be welcomed in the channel. City regulations will still apply: the area is not an official off-leash area. This project will not change that designation.

Q: Will kids still be free to ride bikes and explore the area, or will it become a “nature preserve?”

A: Kids will remain welcomed in the channel, and we anticipate that some of their activities (building ramps, BMX tracks) could impact portions of the restoration vegetation. Once established, native plants will be relatively resistant to rough use.

Q: What are the plans to create a “Friend of” type group to support this channel after the project is established?

A: We will learn from Friends of West Davis Pond and will facilitate the development of such a group for this channel. Our project advisory committee, which consists of local community members who are interested in the channel, could turn into such a group.

Q: Who will be responsible for the channel after the term of the project?

A: After the project term, maintenance of the channel and greenbelt landscaping will revert back to the City of Davis. The project is intended to reduce maintenance with less-weedy landscaping.

Carlson

Crane

Wiese

Reay

Rippner

Solins

Russell

Hicks

Staats

Huang

Hopkins

Job Announcement: Executive Director

Staff Training Plans, so fun

This is where we tell people how we want to train them.

This is Carrie and Stephen's page

This is another page

And even more!

 

Lake Solano Docent Program

**Sign up to attend Lake Solano docent-led tours on our Events Calendar**
 
Starting in Spring 2014, Putah Creek Council began managing the Docent Program at Lake Solano Park. Lake Solano Park offers a vast array of natural resources and recreational opportunities for the public to enjoy, including hiking, bird watching, wildlife photography, picnic areas, camping, fishing, and boating. The scenic park is located just west of Winters in the foothills of the Coastal Range, and receives more than 60,000 visitors a year. Docents help serve as tour guides who help the public interpret the park's natural resources and ecology, as well as assisting with park activities such as trail or restoration work.

What's a Docent?
A docent is a trained guide who conducts tours, leads guided walks, or otherwise helps the public understand the park's resources and opportunities. Docents are volunteers who donate their time and skills toward improving visitors' experience and enjoyment of Lake Solano Park. 

What is expected of Lake Solano Docents?
Volunteer docents assist in interpreting, restoring, and preserving park natural and cultural history by assisting rangers with interpretive hikes and working with rangers to assist in trail and native flora restoration projects. Training is provided; docents should be eager to learn and eager to share their knowledge. Docents commit to 12 hours a year at the park and must abide by relevant Solano County rules and regulations.

If you are interested in joining as a Docent, we invite you to attend an upcoming Info Session! Visit our calendar to find the next info session & training dates. Please email Karin Young (karin AT putahcreekcouncil.org) for more information. 
 

Help lead Nature Walks at Lake Solano

Lake Solano Park and Putah Creek Council are seeking nature lovers and local history enthusiasts to help lead public tours at Lake Solano throughout the summer and fall as part of the Lake Solano Docent program!

All are invited to attend an informational session on Saturday, June 28, 10 am – 12 noon at the Lake Solano Nature Center, 8685 Pleasants Valley Road in Winters. 

The morning event will include a walking tour to learn of Lake Solano’s history, ecology and recreation opportunities, a discussion of tips and tricks for being a successful interpretive guide, and an overview of the Lake Solano Docent program. 

What's a Docent?
Docents are volunteers who donate their time and skills toward improving visitors' experience and enjoyment of Lake Solano Park by conducting tours, leading guided walks, or otherwise helping the public understand the park's natural resources and recreation opportunities. Docents assist in interpreting, restoring, and preserving park natural and cultural history by assisting rangers with interpretive hikes and working with rangers on trail and native flora restoration projects. 

Training is provided; docents should be eager to learn and eager to share their knowledge. Docents commit to 12 hours a year at the park and must abide by relevant Solano County rules and regulations.

Although we are seeking volunteers to help lead future tours, no commitment is necessary to attend this informational session. Please register for this for this free event by clicking here, or call the Putah Creek Council office at 530-795-3006.

More information about the Docent Program is available here, and learn more about Lake Solano Park by clicking here

CreekSpeak

Putah Creek Council runs an annual 6-month series of public talks about the history, culture, and nature of our region called CreekSpeak! 

We hope to see you at some of this year's CreekSpeak events. This year's speaker schedule is below.

  • Putah Creek from Head(waters) to Toe (Drain), with Marc Hoshovsky (May 25, Winters)
  • Lessons Learned from Climate Change Outreach in Mexico, with Itzel Morales (June 15, Davis)
  • Big-Picture Restoration Planning along Putah Creek, with Amy Williams and Rich Marovich (July 20, Winters)
  • Local Dragonflies of the Putah Creek Drainage, with Greg Kareofelas (August 17, Davis)
  • The Cache Creek Tending & Gathering Garden, with Cache Creek Conservancy (September 21, Winters)
  • Serpentine Soils of the Putah Creek Region, with Susan Harrison (October 19, Davis)

Davis events are held at the Veterans Memorial Theatre Club Room, 203 E. 14th Street, Davis
Winters events are held at the Winters Community Library, 708 Railroad Ave., Winters

Each year we educate the public about important creek issues. Past topics have included aquatic insects, native fish, farming in the watershed, local wildlife, the history of the region, and more. 

Putah Creek Council Oral History

Putah Creek Council celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013.  The board of directors and many generous donors honored this milestone by funding a project to record the impressive history of the Council's early years for future generations of creek advocates. 

Founded in February 1988, Putah Creek Council focused its early efforts toward educating the communities along the creek about the wonderful resource we had, getting to know the landowners and farmers along the creek and beginning to clean up some of the legacy dumps. In the summer of 1989, our "little creek group" was alerted that large stretches of the lower creek had gone dry and that fish and other wildlife were suffering.  

From our earliest efforts to purchase water to put back into the creek, to the decision to embark on a 10-year legal journey to secure adequate flows for Putah Creek and its anadromous fish, to our current successful programs in stewardship and education, Putah Creek Council's story is worthy of a permanent record. Explore and enjoy the stories of our early years from the women and men who "steered" Putah Creek Council down the path of success. 

Banner Photo Credit:  Greg Rihl, Enterprise file photo

The Putah Creek Council Oral History Project was directed by jesikah maria ross

Audio interviews by jesikah maria ross, Praxis Projects

Photos by Steve Fisch, Steve Fisch Photography

Transcriptions were reviewed and formatted by jesikah maria ross.   Attempts were made to ensure correct spelling of names, but errors may be found.

The Putah Creek Oral History Project is a collaboration of Dr. Eric Larsen’s Research Lab, University of California Davis and Putah Creek Council.

Click on a name below to learn more about an early Putah Creek Council member and to hear their interview and/or read the interview transcript: 

 
         Steve Chainey

 

     Susan Sanders

 
      Robin Kulakow


   Barbara Kendrick


        Bill Julian

        David Okita

    Libby Earthman

     Joe Krovoza

      Dan O'Hanlon

      Sid England

     Manfred Kusch

       Peter Moyle

California Coast and Creek Cleanup 2014

Every year Putah Creek Council volunteers turn out in droves to remove illegally dumped items and litter from Putah Creek. Every year we have more volunteers, and every year we find less trash. The creek cleanup event brings more volunteers out to the creek than any other individual project, and is a beloved part of what the Putah Creek Council community does to care for the creek. We are making great strides, but we can't do it without you.

This year, the annual cleanup will be on Saturday, September 20, 9am - noon. Putah Creek Council is coordinating signups for multiple sites in both Davis and Winters. Please visit the event signup page for more detailed information about each site.

How does all of the trash end up in the creek? Some of it is from "legacy" dump sites - places where people have been illegally dumping appliances, couches, etc. for years. Other trash arrives from city streets. Have you seen a "No Dumping - Drains to Creek" sign? When water flows down a storm drain, it carries with it whatever is on the street. The water that flows down storm drains is not treated, filtered, or cleaned. So if there is any trash in the street, it will end up down in the creek. The "No Dumping - Drains to Creek" signs on storm drains really do mean that the drain ends in a creek! 

For more information about prior years' cleanups, please visit our archives

Steve Chainey

Steve was a co-founder - with Susan Sanders - of Putah Creek Council.  He and Susan were the first co-chairs of the original Putah Creek Council Steering Committee and they served together on the early board of directors through the litigation. Steve was instrumental in working with our expert witnesses and building our case during the litigation.  

Steve became interested in Putah Creek in the 1980s, first as a student in Landscape Architecture and then Range and Wildlands Science at U.C. Davis. His appreciation for the creek continued to grow as he worked on the 1986 U.C. Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve Management Plan.

Steve has been a professional resource ecologist for 28 years and has worked for several of the most highly-regarded private consulting firms in northern California. He currently works for AECOM and is a recognized expert and leader in watershed management and restoration, and wetland and riparian ecology.

Listen to Steve's oral history recording below.

Read Steve's oral history transcript 

Barbara Kendrick

Credited with suggesting the name “Putah Creek Council,” Barbara Kendrick was one of the earliest members of the original Steering Committee and our longest serving board member – 22 years! She and her friend, Ann Dyer-Bennett, helped with everything in the early years, from stuffing envelopes to working with landowners along Putah Creek to driving our expert witnesses to the courtroom during the litigation.

Barbara owned and managed the Happy Horse Riding School on County Road 96 and fell in love with Putah Creek while taking her horses for rides along and in the creek starting in the 1960s.  She continued to run the riding school from the early years of her involvement with Putah Creek Council through the litigation.  

Barbara served Putah Creek Council from the time she was in early 60s until her mid-80s. She is long-retired from her riding school days but is still a devoted and beloved supporter of Putah Creek Council.

Listen to Barbara's oral history recording below.

Read Barbara's oral history transcript. 

Susan Sanders

Susan was a co-founder – with Steve Chainey – of Putah Creek Council. She and Steve were the first co-chairs of the original Putah Creek Council Steering Committee and they served together on the early board of directors through the litigation. Susan coordinated and managed the litigation from its inception through the trial in 1996. 

Susan became involved with Putah Creek Council when she and Steve started a conservation committee for Yolo Audubon (formerly Davis Audubon) that focused on riparian zones.  Their first project was Putah Creek. At the time, Susan had recently finished her Ph.D. in Zoology at U.C. Davis, was working as a private environmental consultant and was starting a family with her husband, Ted Beedy.

Susan and Ted and their young children moved to the Sierra Foothills in 1996 and Susan has been a highly-sought after consulting wildlife biologist for over 30 years. She is currently a Senior Wildlife Biologist with AECOM.

Listen to Susan's oral history interview below.

Read Susan's oral history transcript

Bill Julian

Bill Julian became involved with Putah Creek Council as soon as the creek dried up in the summer of 1989. A lawyer by profession, and married to Council Steering Committee member Robin Kulakow, Bill provided invaluable "behind the scenes" perspective, political connections and legal guidance throughout the litigation.  

Bill came to Davis from Indiana in 1982 and got admitted to practice law at that time.  For many years he worked as a utility regulation specialist for the State Assembly and then worked for the Public Utilities Commission.  At the time of the litigation, he was also the Chair of the Yolo County Democratic Party. Enthusiastically supportive of Robin's work with Putah Creek Council, Bill was drawn to the protection and restoration of Putah Creek and its value as a local natural resource capable of bringing communities of people together. As a veteran of complicated, sophisticated legal battles, he was also motivated to help with the litigation. 

Bill is currently semi-retired and lives in Davis with his wife, Robin Kulakow.  

Listen to Bill's oral history recording below

Read Bill's oral history transcript. 

Dan O'Hanlon

Dan O'Hanlon was the main lawyer for Putah Creek Council during the trial in March and April, 1996 and throughout the negotiations that resulted in the Putah Creek Accord in May, 2000.  Dan, along with Brett Moffatt, worked for Beveridge and Diamond and they represented Putah Creek Council pro bono. 

Dan first became familiar with Putah Creek as an undergraduate at U.C. Davis in the late 1970s and early 1980s. After graduating in 1981, he received his J.D from U.C. Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco then began his career in 1985 practicing securities and banking litigation. Dan took over the Putah Creek litigation from the late Susan Cagann, who represented Putah Creek Council during early negotiations with Solano County water interests starting in 1990.

As a result of his involvement with the Putah Creek litigation and the people he worked with at U.C. Davis, the City of Davis and Putah Creek Council, Dan moved back to Davis in 2000 and joined Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard in Sacramento where his practice emphasizes water and water-related resource law and environmental law.

Listen to Dan's oral history recording below.

Read Dan's oral history transcript. 

David Okita

David Okita has been the General Manager of the Solano County Water Agency and representing Solano County water users for 25 years.  He was hired into the brand-new position of General Manager in the fall of 1989 - right in the middle of the drought that brought about the lawsuit.  He was instantly involved in the dispute over the lack of flows in Lower Putah Creek. He attended nearly every meeting and negotiation over the life of the dispute and lawsuit from 1989 on, including sitting at the table when the settlement was reached that resulted in the Putah Creek Accord.   

David came to "SCWA" after 11 years working on water issues and Delta politics with Contra Costa County. He immediately noticed that the litigation over downstream flows in Putah Creek was unique - more like a difference of opinion between local professionals and neighbors, mediated by elected officials like Vic Fazio who represented both sides. 

David is still the General Manager of Solano County Water Agency, which serves as the umbrella group for irrigation, municipal and industrial water users in Solano County.  He has built SCWA from a one-person operation into an organization of 12 professionals. David continues to support and participate actively on the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and SCWA also greatly supports the work of the Putah Creek Streamkeeper, Rich Marovich, and Putah Creek Council. 

Listen to David's oral history recording below. 

Read David's oral history transcript. 

Libby Earthman

Libby was Putah Creek Council's executive director from 2009 until 2014. She revived and expanded Putah Creek Council's community stewardship programs and events and nurtured and expanded our cooperative programs with the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee, the Solano and Yolo County Resource Conservation Districts, Solano County Parks and Recreation Division and numerous other partners. 

Libby came to California from Colorado in 2001 to do salmon habitat restoration work with the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Program. She moved from Humboldt County to Yolo County with her husband, Reid Bryson, so he could go to graduate school at U.C. Davis. With several years of successful fundraising and restoration work under her belt, Libby was hired to take on the challenge of leading Putah Creek Council during the height of the recession and state grant freezes and she was very effective and successful. 

Libby continues to advocate for salmon and trout habitat restoration and watershed planning with Trout Unlimited. She lives in Winters with Reid - who is one of Putah Creek Council's outstanding Stewardship Team members. 

Listen to Libby's oral history recording below. 

Read Libby's oral history transcript. 

Joe Krovoza

Joe became involved with Putah Creek Council as a volunteer in the early 1990s. From 1994 - 1996 he worked on the litigation as a junior attorney for the City of Davis' lawyer, Martha Lennihan. After the lawsuit ended in 1996, Joe started work at UC Davis and became Chair of Putah Creek Council. Joe represented the Council throughout the negotiations leading to the settlement and Putah Creek Accord and is responsible for securing the additional flows needed to attract fall-run Chinook salmon back into Putah Creek. One of our longest-serving members, Joe remained Chair of Putah Creek Council until 2003 and active on the board until 2007. 

Joe and his wife, Janet, moved to Davis in 1991 so that Joe could attend law school at UCD's King Hall and study natural resource law - in particular, water and environmental law. He became a teaching assistant for Hap Dunning, who was one of the university's main experts during the adjudication and from there connected to Putah Creek Council. His first memory of being on the creek was getting wet and dirty during a Putah Creek Council creek cleanup near Winters. 

Joe is a life-long environmentalist and continues to work at the university as Director of External Relations and Development for the Institute for Transportation Studies and the Energy Efficiency Center. He also served on the Davis City Council for four years, and was mayor of Davis for over three years. 

Listen to Joe's oral history recording below. 

Read Joe's oral history transcript. 

Sid England

Sid was the U.C. Davis point person throughout the Putah Creek adjudication and eventual litigation. He and Marjorie Dickinson, who was UCD's director of government and community relations, worked closely with Putah Creek Council and they coordinated expert UCD faculty (fisheries biologist Peter Moyle, water law professor Hap Dunning, water resource engineer Vern Scott) and the university's lawyer, Alan Lilly. 

After running his own consulting business for several years, Sid came to Davis in 1980 for graduate school. After earning a Ph.D. in Ecology, he was hired in 1990 to work on campus as the university's first environmental planner. On his first day of work at the new job, his boss pointed to a stack of papers and said "I left something on your desk...it's something legal and I don't really know what it's about. Figure it out and let me know what's going on." It turned out to be the first notice from Solano County Water Agency that they were proposing to adjudicate the riparian water rights of Putah Creek. 

Sid continues to work at U.C. Davis and is Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability. A life-long environmentalist, he has also been on the board of Yolo (formerly Davis) Audubon for over 20 years and on the board of Audubon California for 9 year. 

Listen to Sid's oral history recording below. 

Read Sid's oral history transcript. 

Manfred Kusch

Manfred was a very early Putah Creek Council Steering Committee member and was one of several Putah Creek landowners who were involved in the early years. To help publicize Putah Creek Council, Manfred and former Winters-resident, Paul Kaiser, built Wood Duck boxes to be installed along Putah Creek by volunteers. He helped with mailings, with fundraisers and he wrote letters to the editor of local papers and testified at the trial about the effect the drying up of the creek was having on the vegetation and wildlife on his section of Putah Creek.   

Manfred came to Davis in 1971 to teach French at U.C. Davis and he retired in 2002. In 1986, he and his wife, Jamie Madison, and Jamie's brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Diane Madison, purchased 42 acres of land along the south bank of Putah Creek downstream of Stevenson Bridge. They built homes, established farms and created lovely gardens on what had been fallow ag fields filled with star thistle. 

An avid birdwatcher and photographer, Manfred continues to be involved with and support Putah Creek Council and the Yolo Audubon Society. He graciously makes his lovely gardens and property along Putah Creek available to birdwatching tours and for Putah Creek Council celebrations, events and reunions. 

Listen to Manfred's oral history recordings below. 

Read Manfred's oral history transcript. 

Peter Moyle

Peter is the preeminent expert on California native fishes. He became involved with Putah Creek Council at the very beginning because his students had been sampling fish in the creek since the late 1970s and he knew that Putah Creek had a lot of potential value for teaching and research. Peter gave generously of his time and expertise during the litigation, trial and settlement negotiations and he was one of our most important expert witnesses. The sampling data his students collected since 1979 formed the basis of our arguments about how the old dry-year release flows negatively affected the native fish fauna. In addition, Peter's recommendation for pulse flows, agreed to in the Accord, has led to increasing numbers of fall-run Chinook salmon making their way back up Lower Putah Creek to spawn upstream of Stevenson Bridge.   

Peter came to U.C. Davis in 1972 after teaching at Fresno State for three years where he travelled all over the San Joaquin Valley and Sierra foothills with his students sampling fish. His first memory of Putah Creek was from an early evening walk to the "picnic grounds" where Camp Putah is now held. In 1972 that reach was being mined by UCD for gravel, there was no vegetation and Putah Creek was a thin thread of water winding through the edge of the gravel pit. Peter and another Assistant Professor at the time, Kerry Dawson, soon became interested in establishing a riparian reserve along Putah Creek on the south side of campus. 

Peter continues to teach and do research at U.C. Davis where he is a Distinguished Professor and former Chair of the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. He and his laboratory group have been studying the ecology and conservation of freshwater and estuarine fishes in California for over 40 years. 

 

Listen to Peter's oral history recording below. 

Read Peter's oral history transcript. 

Robin Kulakow

Robin was one of the very earliest members of the original Putah Creek Council Steering Committee - along with Steve Chainey and Susan Sanders - and she was also a founding board member. Robin served for many years as our Treasurer and also took on many other important roles related to early fundraising efforts and the litigation. One of our longest-serving members, Robin was on the Putah Creek Council board until 2004. 

Robin became involved with Putah Creek Council after moving to Davis from Weaverville, CA where she had been a soil scientist for the U.S. Forest Service. After attending the U.C. Davis Graduate School of Management and working for the City of Davis and state Department of Finance, Robin found kindred spirits in Putah Creek Council.

While still serving as Putah Creek Council’s Treasurer, Robin (and other early Council supporters) began advocating for the establishment of a state wildlife area in the remnant wetlands of the Yolo Bypass. Robin is currently Executive Director of the Yolo Basin Foundation and has received numerous awards for her conservation and environmental education work over the past 25 years.

Listen to Robin's oral history recording below.

Read Robin's oral history transcript

Al-Saleh

Eden

Rippner

Holmes

Nowak

Hickman

Dixon

Payne

Ayala

Torbert

Petersen

Culpepper

Perona

Putah Creek Legacy Series

Photo credit Peter Moyle

Explore Putah Creek Legacy, a joint reporting project from Climate Confidential and The Davis Enterprise. This 5-part series tells the story of Putah Creek's early days and its journey from a dried-up creek bed to the flowing, thriving community resource it is today. 

"The Putah Creek Legacy" explores the conditions that led to the drought and initial community responses. It tells the story of the lawsuit that led to the Putah Creek Accord and the subsequent restoration projects, as well as the work of Putah Creek Streamkeeper, Rich Marovich and U.C. Davis Professor, Dr. Peter Moyle. The series ends with a discussion on how the lessons we've learned from Putah Creek may inform future dam management, especially in the face of prolonged drought.  

The full series, as well as photos, community stories, maps, and other historical resources are available here: www.putahcreeklegacy.com

Climate Confidential produced the Putah Creek Legacy as part of its Local Edition series, which highlights local environmental issues in partnership with community media. The series was written by Elizabeth Case, Davis Enterprise staff writer. 

 

Losmozos

Big Day of Giving 2015 - #BIGDog2015

24 HOURS TO GIVE WHERE YOUR HEART IS! 

May 5, 2015

Job Announcement - Putah Creek Council Stewardship Coordinator

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY – JOB ANNOUNCEMENT

STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR

Application Deadline:  April 30, 2015 (12:00 midnight)

Target Hire Date:  May 18 – June 1 for a 6-8 week part-time training period.

Full-time employment to start mid-July, 2015

Putah Creek Council seeks applications for a dedicated, highly motivated and enthusiastic Stewardship Coordinator to lead our volunteer Stewardship Team and carry out community stewardship events to protect and enhance fish and wildlife habitat in the Lower Putah Creek watershed and adjacent waterways.

Background:

Putah Creek Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the enhancement and protection of Putah Creek through advocacy, education, and community-based stewardship.

Putah Creek Council was founded in 1988 by a group of local nature enthusiasts to protect and increase local appreciation for the remaining riparian habitat along Putah Creek.  A year later, a severe drought affected northern California and large sections of Lower Putah Creek dried up, impacting the fish, wildlife and riparian habitat.  Putah Creek Council found itself spearheading (and eventually winning) a 10-year legal effort to ensure environmental stream flows and safeguards for Putah Creek fish and wildlife.

While Putah Creek Council is renowned and highly respected for the legal work to protect flows for the creek, we believe the most enduring protection for Putah Creek comes from a community of people that understands the creek’s local and regional significance and takes action to enhance it.  We continually seek ways to connect our community with projects to improve fish and wildlife habitat and the overall creek environment.

We seek staff with a passion for the environment and who are resourceful and wish to help continue this tradition of local environmental stewardship and education.

Summary of the Position:

Putah Creek Council is a small organization that takes a team approach to its work. Our current stewardship and education programs focus on engaging community volunteers in habitat planting events, creek cleanups, growing and tending native plants from local sources for planting in our watershed and providing both classroom and outdoor creek-based education opportunities for children, youth and adults. 

The Stewardship Coordinator oversees all aspects of a suite of contract and grant-funded community stewardship projects, including managing volunteers and volunteer events, database management, and the outreach, publicity and administrative tasks necessary to ensure project success and grant compliance. The Stewardship Coordinator works with the Education Coordinator and Executive Director and our professional partners to coordinate all tasks necessary to successfully carry out each assigned project.  The Stewardship Coordinator may also be assigned tasks on projects being lead by other staff when necessary.  In addition, the Stewardship Coordinator will actively work with the Executive Director to plan and fund current and future initiatives in support of Putah Creek Council’s strategic plan.

The ideal candidate will be a resourceful individual who is comfortable taking the initiative on projects, is conscientious and provides follow-through on areas of responsibility.  He/she will need to be flexible and willing to take on new tasks and projects as Putah Creek Council’s stewardship and education program opportunities evolve and/or change with new funding sources. 

The Stewardship Coordinator must have a passion for the environment and have knowledge of ecosystem and watershed concepts and an understanding of the local natural history of Yolo and Solano counties, including native plants, plant communities, and fish and wildlife species and their habitats, water quality issues, and stream geomorphology and hydrology.  Some experience with habitat restoration, volunteer management, community engagement, environmental education, and/or outreach is also required. The Stewardship Coordinator must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with a broad range of individuals and advocate for the creek while honoring private property rights.

Position Information:

This is a full-time position (depending on secured funding). Main work hours will be during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm), however, early morning, evening and weekend work is required regularly throughout the year.

Compensation and Benefits:

  • $17.00 - $23.32 hourly / $35,360 - $48,500 annually
  • Starting pay is commensurate with education, experience and skills.
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Supportive board of directors and partner organizations
  • $400/month medical insurance stipend
  • Cell phone stipend
  • Paid vacation, holidays and sick time
  • Fidelity Simple-IRA Plan and 3% company match

Application Process:

  • Qualified applicants please submit:  1) cover letter, 2) resume, and 3) writing sample via email only.
  • The writing sample should be from a newsletter, press release or other outreach piece. If not available, please substitute something you believe conveys your ability to clearly interpret the natural world with the general public.
  • Submit all three pieces together in one document (MSWord or PDF) no later than 12:00 midnight on April 30, 2015 to:

Carrie Shaw, Executive Director

Putah Creek Council

carrie@putahcreekcouncil.org

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

POSITION DESCRIPTION

Stewardship Coordinator

Type:  Full-time, Nonexempt. 40 hours per week through March 1, 2016 (with potential to continue full-time dependent on available funding).

Pay Range:  $17.00 - $23.32 hourly / $35,360 - $48,500 annually. Starting pay is commensurate with education, experience and skills.

General Information:

Under supervision of the Executive Director, the Stewardship Coordinator works as a team with the Council’s Education Coordinator and Executive Director and our restoration partners, to coordinate and carry out all necessary duties to successfully complete a suite of community stewardship projects, including conducting volunteer events and managing volunteers and the associated outreach, publicity and administrative duties necessary to ensure program success and grant compliance.  The Stewardship Coordinator may also be assigned duties or asked to assist on stewardship events or projects being lead by other staff when necessary.  In addition, the Stewardship Coordinator will actively work with the Executive Director to plan and help develop funding for current and future initiatives in support of Putah Creek Council’s strategic plan.

Job Duties and Responsibilities:

  1. Stewardship Team/ Community Stewardship Events ~ 70%
    • Recruit, train, motivate and manage Putah Creek Council Stewardship Team members.
    • Work with the Education Coordinator to plan and carry out annual Stewardship Team and Lake Solano Docent Training (October) and interim training events as warranted.
    • Coordinate closely with our restoration partners (Putah Creek Streamkeeper, Yolo County and Solano County Resource Conservation Districts, U.C. Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve, Cities of Winters and Davis, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Center for Land-Based Learning, Audubon California, etc.) to plan, advertise, carry out and document assigned community stewardship events (habitat restoration, native plant propagation, erosion control, etc.).
    • Recruit and manage community volunteers for assigned stewardship events.
    • Maintain accurate records of community volunteers, the events they participate in and a record of their liability waivers.
  2. Native Plant Nursery – 15%
    • Assist the Putah Creek Streamkeeper with operation and maintenance of the LPCCC / CALFIRE native plant nursery (e.g., plant inventories, project invoicing, nursery cleaning).
  3. Creek Cleanups – 10%
    • Help secure funding for one or more cleanup events annually.
    • Plan the annual Coast and Creek Cleanup event (September) and coordinate staff involvement.
    • Plan and carry out additional, targeted spring cleanup event (funding permitting)
  4. Miscellaneous – 5%
    • Assist the Education Coordinator and Executive Director on projects when necessary, (annual potluck, summer internships, education events, etc.).
    • Perform other outreach and administrative duties as assigned by the Executive Director.

Qualifications and Required Experience:

Minimum Qualifications:

  • An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with a major or significant coursework in the life and/or physical sciences, for example:  biology, environmental science/studies, natural resources, geography, geology, hydrology, ecology, plant or soil sciences, landscape architecture, nature interpretation
  • At least two (2) years of professional and/or volunteer experience in environmental education, watershed restoration, habitat enhancement, or closely-related fields.  A graduate degree may be substituted for some of this experience, if appropriate.
  • Experience with native vegetation restoration techniques
  • Experience managing and supervising volunteers
  • Experience with community engagement, environmental education and/or outreach
  • A demonstrated history of volunteerism and a commitment to environmental stewardship
  • A valid California driver’s license and the ability to operate various vehicles such as passenger cars, delivery trucks and 4x4 pickup trucks with trailers
  • Advanced computer skills, especially with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), web browsers, email, and calendaring

Knowledge of:

  • Ecosystem and watershed concepts
  • California native plant species, plant communities, noxious weeds and fish and wildlife species and their habitats
  • Water quality issues, and stream geomorphology and hydrology. 

Ability to:

  • Manage projects and events successfully, including:  planning, implementation, time management, organization, attention to detail and ability to complete staff work on time and within budget.
  • Problem-solve and be creative in working through obstacles
  • Prioritize a full workload and work in a fast-paced environment
  • Work a flexible schedule including evening and weekend hours as necessary throughout the year
  • Write and speak publically in a professional manner
  • Communicate with the public clearly through publicity, marketing and outreach pieces, for example, press releases, newsletter articles, brochures and newspaper articles
  • Learn and use the open-source website editing program Drupal and volunteer/contact management/donor database CiviCRM
  • Work positively with a variety of people including community volunteers of all ages, partner organizations and agencies, landowners/farmers, scientists/academics and the general public
  • Take a leadership and mentoring role, especially with community volunteers and student interns
  • Share a passion for nature and teach children, youth and adults about nature and the importance of Putah Creek to the communities of Yolo and Solano Counties and our region
  • Safely use a variety of hand and small power tools

Additional Desired Skills:

  • A sense of humor and easygoing temperament
  • Current CPR and First Aid certification (required, training provided)
  • Familiarity with, or willingness to learn, the Adobe Creative Suite including: Adobe, InDesign, PhotoShop, and Illustrator
  • Ability to drive a flatbed truck with a clutch/stick shift
  • Experience using an ATV, mower, power washer and string trimmer
  • Ability to make project maps with Google Earth and/or GIS
  • Familiarity with GPS
  • Good photography skills
  • A basic understanding of HTML
  • Familiarity with the non-profit model of business
  • Grant writing and grant management experience

Physical Requirements:

This position is approximately 50%-50% office work and outdoor field work. Office work requires frequent computer and telephone use.  Field work requires the willingness and ability to work in a variety of outdoor settings and occasionally in inclement weather on uneven terrain/irregular surfaces. 

Considerable physical ability and stamina is required and may involve walking up to two miles, regular lifting of up to 25 pounds and occasional lifting of up to 50 pounds, stooping, squatting, twisting, kneeling, reaching, bending etc.

 

Spring Watershed Wonders Tours and Events

Birds of Putah Creek - Knowing the Feathers Around You

Saturday, May 2nd, 8 AM – 1 PM

Did you know that over 150 species of birds reside along Putah Creek?  In early May, spring migration will be in full swing and year-round resident birds will be nesting. 

Visit quiet, secluded locations along Putah Creek upstream and downstream of Winters that are not accessible to the public with local birding experts Steve Hampton and Michael Perrone. They will help you identify resident and migratory birds by both sight and sound.

Open your eyes and ears as you learn about migratory patterns, ecological niches, bird behavior and the value of birds to the Putah Creek riparian ecosystem. Enjoy a picnic lunch at a beautiful, local creekside property. 

In the morning we will meet at Rotary Park in Winters, and we will end the morning of birdwatching with a picnic lunch at a lovely creekside property downstream of Stevenson's Bridge. Lunch and drinks will be provided. 

Hosted By:  Stephen McCord | 530-220-3165 | stephen.a.mccord@gmail.com

Cost:  $75 per person. Lunch and drinks are included.
Minimum/Maximum Number of Attendees: 10 / 20  

To Register, click here. 

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Putah Creek Bats - Flyers in the Night Sky

Saturday, May 9th - 7:30 to 10 PM

Up to 10 species of bats could be living along Putah Creek and local wildlife biologist, Leila Harris, is conducting surveys to try and document their presence. 

Visit several secluded bat foraging locations along Putah Creek after sunset with Ms. Harris and her colleagues. Open your eyes (with night vision equipment!) and ears (with acoustic detectors!) as you learn about our local bat species, their ecological niches and behavior and their value to the Putah Creek riparian ecosystem.

Depending on our luck, we may view bats up close as the researchers conduct a capture-release survey of local bats. Watch and learn about different species as they are identified, measured and released. 

Hosted By:  Valerie Whitworth | 530-795-2009 | valeriewhitworth@gmail.com

Cost:  $50 per person. Hot chocolate and dessert included!
Minimum/Maximum Number of Attendees: 8 / 15  

To Register, click here. 

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Nature's Theater for Kids - Explore Putah Creek

Sunday, May 17th - 10 AM - 2 PM

Bring the kids, bring the grandkids! 

They will find outdoor time irresistible with this adventurous Nature's Theater walking story along Putah Creek. 

Lyndsay Dawkins and Jeff Fayln unlock children's imaginations on this theatrical outing of play and wonder. Costumed characters set up a nature story along the creek and children embark on a mini-quest to stop villains, meet other characters and save the day. This experience offers children a taste of being real-life heroes as they explore, play games and interact with the characters. 

The location will be on a gorgeous working walnut orchard and organic farm along Putah Creek just east of Winters. 

Hosted By:  Erin Hasbrook | 530-795-0745 | rex5111@aol.com

Cost:  $25 per child | $15 each additional child from the same family. Lunch and drinks provided. 
Minimum/Maximum Number of Attendees: 10 / 30   

To Register, click here.  

 

 

One Creek | Putah Creek Restoration Internships

Putah Creek Council offers summer internships to community members ages 16 and older. Interns in the program work closely with Putah Creek Council staff and interns working at the U.C. Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve (UCD) and with Solano County Water Agency (SCWA). They also work with, and learn from, our restoration partners who are experts in the fields of habitat restoration, native plant landscaping, outdoor recreation management, native plant propagation, and nursery management.

Internships are a valuable way to gain job skills, learn about a profession, receive mentorship, and be part of an important local community effort. Interns who successfully complete their internship receive a stipend (prorated - up to $575) and letter of recommendation from Putah Creek Council, which can be an asset for college and job applications.

The 2017 Summer Intern schedule will be 20 June - 9 August; on Tuesdays, 8:30-11:30 AM at the native plant nursery in South Davis, and on Wednesdays, 8:30–11:30 AM at various restoration sites in Yolo and Solano Counties with Putah Creek Council partners. Interns will work under the supervision of Putah Creek Council staff. 

In the nursery, interns will learn native plant identification, propagation, and other aspects of nursery operations. In the field, interns will learn how to run, maintain, and repair drip irrigation, care for field-planted native vegetation, build and maintain trails, and manage other public recreation resources.

  • Training will be provided. 
  • Interns must provide their own transportation to the native plant nursery in south Davis. Vanpools from UCD may be available to some restoration sites.  
  • Interns must be physically fit, able to lift twenty-five pounds, able to walk and stand on uneven ground, and willing to work in an outdoor setting without access to air conditioning during the months of June-August.
  • Interns will be expected to participate in all events; 8 nursery events on Tuesday mornings, and 8 restoration events on Wednesday mornings. 

To apply for the 2017 One Creek Restoration Internship, please complete this ONLINE APPLICATION. Rolling applications will be accepted, with priority given to earlier applications. Interns will be notified of their acceptance beginning May 15.

If you are interested in learning more, please email Amy Williams, Putah Creek Council Stewardship Coordinator, at amy@putahcreekcouncil.org, or call: 530-795-3006.

To view a great article about our 2013 summer interns, click here.

What's a hedgerow?

Hedgerows can provide many benefits to farm fields. The University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources has some publications that identify some of these services that hedgerows offer:

Pacific Horticulture has an overview of urban hedgerows, including a resource list for further research. For a discussion on suburban hedgerows, explore this article from Mother Earth News.

The following are resources to help you find native plants to use in your hedgerow at home:

 

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This page is intended to supplement material found on interpretive panels installed along the North Davis Channel environmental education areas. Curious about the other panels? Check out their pages:

PDFs of all panels are available here.

Looking upstream...

Did you know that most of the trash in the Channel comes from litter on Davis streets? Visit the links below to learn how you can help combat this problem and keep the Channel clean:

To learn more about nonpoint source pollution, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's fact sheets on polluted runoff and agricultural runoff.

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This page is intended to supplement material found on interpretive panels installed along the North Davis Channel environmental education areas. Curious about the other panels? Check out their pages:

PDFs of all panels are available here.

Looking downstream...

Interested in learning more about the North Davis Channel project? A history, plans, and project updates are available at the PCC project page.

If you'd like to volunteer to help maintain the project, please check our upcoming events calendar! Channel workdays may include "North Davis Channel" or "Ditch" in the title. If you can't find something that works with your schedule, send us an email and we'll check if there are projects you can work on independently. 

For a more detailed map of the Channel, explore the City of Davis' Drainage Map (April 2007)

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This page is intended to supplement material found on interpretive panels installed along the North Davis Channel environmental education areas. Curious about the other panels? Check out their pages:

PDFs of all panels are available here.

Monarchs need milkweed...

Learn about the ongoing monarch butterfly research project happening in the North Davis Channel: Monitoring Milkweed-Monarch Interactions for Learning and Conservation (MMMILC). This project is coordinated by the Yang Lab in the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

Information about monarch butterfly biology and conservation can be found at Monarch Watch. Take an active role in contributing to monarch science by helping Journey North track migrations!

Information subject to change, but below is a list of some places we've found native milkweeds (plants and/or seeds) for sale near Davis. Make sure to buy milkweed species that are native locally, such as Narrow-leaf (or narrow-leaved) milkweed and Showy milkweed. Species native to different parts of the country have different timelines for producing leaves, setting seed, etc. and this may cause local monarchs to mis-time their migrations. This KCET article has more information that you may find helpful. 

You can also use the Xerces Society's Milkweed Seed Finder tool to find sources of native milkweed seed.

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This page is intended to supplement material found on interpretive panels installed along the North Davis Channel environmental education areas. Curious about the other panels? Check out their pages:

PDFs of all panels are available here.

Have you seen these resident birds?

This page from the Baltimore Bird Club provides a how-to guide to landscaping to attract birds. 

For an explanation of why native plants make the best bird gardens, visit this resource page from the Sacramento Audubon Society.

The Napa-Solano Audubon Society has many resources that you may find helpful as you plan a bird-friendly backyard:

For more resources and ways to become involved with bird conservation, visit these agency and society pages:

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This page is intended to supplement material found on interpretive panels installed along the North Davis Channel environmental education areas. Curious about the other panels? Check out their pages:

PDFs of all panels are available here.

Look out for migratory birds...

Learn about the Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership - a collaboration between Audubon California, The Nature Conservancy, and Point Blue Conservation Science. Local Audubon chapters can connect you to opportunities to help local bird populations:

Found a baby bird? It may not need help: check Wildcare's handy flowchart to figure out what to do! 

If you've found injured wildlife, it should be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator or a veterinarian that accepts such animals. Here's a few local resources:

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This page is intended to supplement material found on interpretive panels installed along the North Davis Channel environmental education areas. Curious about the other panels? Check out their pages:

PDFs of all panels are available here.

What's the buzz?

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This page is intended to supplement material found on interpretive panels installed along the North Davis Channel environmental education areas. Curious about the other panels? Check out their pages:

PDFs of all panels are available here.

Ditch your lawn

Thinking about removing your lawn? There are a number of online resources to help you get started:

EcoLandscape has numerous resources for environmentally-friendly gardening, with tips for local contractors and sample planting plans for lawn removals.

For local water conservation tips, visit the City of Davis' water page.

For a more in-depth read on arguments for lawn removal, check out the Public Policy Institute of California's publication on Lawns and Water Demand in California

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This page is intended to supplement material found on interpretive panels installed along the North Davis Channel environmental education areas. Curious about the other panels? Check out their pages:

PDFs of all panels are available here.

Winters Putah Creek Nature Park and Putah Creek Council

Dear Putah Creek Council Supporters,

Some citizens in Winters have recently expressed their concerns about the upcoming final phase of the Winters Putah Creek Park Channel Realignment Project because it will disturb an existing beaver colony.  Putah Creek Council is taking this opportunity to describe our role and our support for the project.

Putah Creek Council’s Role

Putah Creek Council is a core member of the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee (LPCCC), which was formed in May 2000 by an Accord between Solano County water interests and Yolo County environmental advocates, to protect and enhance the fish and wildlife resources of Putah Creek. The LPCCC represents the Boards of Supervisors of Solano and Yolo Counties; the Cities of Davis, Fairfield, Suisun, Vacaville, Vallejo and Winters; Solano County Water Agency; Solano Irrigation District; Maine Prairie Water District; UC Davis; Putah Creek Council; and riparian landowners.

Putah Creek Council’s role on the LPCCC is as an advocate for Putah Creek and its fish and wildlife. We also provide community outreach about LPCCC projects, host volunteer stewardship activities for the public along Putah Creek, and conduct both classroom and creek‐ based environmental education programs. Much of our stewardship work along Putah Creek is funded through grants developed by the LPCCC and implemented by LPCCC members.

One of the LPCCC’s first major accomplishments, with community participation, was a Watershed Management Action Plan (WMAP) for Lower Putah Creek . The Winters Putah Creek Park Channel Realignment Project is the highest priority project in the WMAP.  This project implements the City of Winters Putah Creek Park Master Plan and is supported by the Winters Putah Creek Committee, Winters City Council, and Winters Chamber of Commerce.

Why We Support the Project

Putah Creek Council has a long‐term, creek‐wide, science‐based ecological perspective when it comes to our work on behalf of the creek and its wildlife. The flows that Putah Creek Council negotiated in the settlement agreement were only the beginning.  Now the challenge is to make the most of these flows by restoring a more natural channel form and ecological function

The Winters Putah Creek Park Channel Realignment Project accomplishes three goals:  1) it scales the creek channel to more functional dimensions and structure appropriate to the peak flows Putah Creek has now compared to the greater peak flows prior to construction of Monticello Dam; 2) it allows downstream movement of gravel, creating fish habitat; 3) it creates floodplains that are connected to the creek, providing increased area for development of riparian habitat in the park; and 4) it enhances both wildlife movement and public access to the creek on both the north and south banks.

Phase 3 of the project will connect the two previously realigned sections of the creek.  It will fill in a former gravel extraction pit that provides limited aquatic habitat diversity because it is overly wide and excessively deep.  It will also remove the former sewage aeration ponds, and create six acres of new creek floodplain and area for riparian habitat restoration.

The Phase 3 design was developed by a team of scientists and engineers and reviewed at several stages by the Winters Putah Creek Committee, including an ex-officio member of Putah Creek Council. The project is one of four at Winters Putah Creek Park that has attracted funding from state water bonds in statewide competition with other projects.

This project looks to a future creek, richer in diversity of fish, insects, mammals and birds.  Ongoing monitoring of fish and wildlife by UC Davis biologists has found the greatest diversity of wildlife in locations of prior restoration projects.  The fish habitat benefits of prior phases of channel realignment at Winters are already being realized with the first salmon spawning in living memory in the park and a 300% extension of perennial trout habitat.  Further channel narrowing will help extend native fish habitat including trout to the outskirts of Davis. The improved wildlife watching throughout the park as a result of this will be a legacy to future generations.

The Next Steps

Putah Creek Council is working closely with the Putah Creek Streamkeeper who has hired several wildlife biologists from UC Davis to monitor the five adult beaver and one kit that have been observed.  Work will comply with regulatory requirements of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. The beaver dens have been located, mapped and fences have been erected at an appropriate distance to protect beaver denning areas.  Wildlife monitors are accounting for any wildlife actively using the area.

The present plan is to slowly dewater the gravel pit area over a few days, giving the beavers opportunity to leave the present area during the night and move away on their own. Beavers typically move upstream and downstream naturally on waterways as they deplete favored food plants in the vicinity of their dens and search for under-used areas. When construction starts, Putah Creek Council will be coordinating volunteers to safely relocate native fish and native turtles as the channel is dewatered and will participate with planting events focused on community participation.  The construction’s timeline is uncertain at this time.

The Putah Creek Council Board hopes this provides useful information as the project progresses.  For more information, project documents can be reviewed at this link:  Winters Putah Creek Nature Park

North Davis Channel: Interpretive Panels

One component of the North Davis Channel Urban Greening Project is a series of 8 interpretive panels about the nature, ecology, and hydrology of the Channel. Links to PDFs of the panels and supplementary resources are below. Panel installation is currently projected for late August 2015.

PDFs of the 8 interpretive panels can be found here.

Supplementary resources for the 8 panels are available at the links below, by location:

Senda Nueva / Spiderweb Park:

Pedestrian footbridge @ Kestrel Place:

Bird Entry Park:

Northstar Connector:

Fall 2014

2013 Putah Creek Cleanup

Volunteers braved wet weather on Saturday, September 21st, to participate in the 2013 Putah Creek Cleanup, part of the annual California Coast and Creek Cleanup Day. A total of 122 volunteers worked together to pick up 4891 pieces of trash, tighten one mile and install 400 new feet of rope fencing, and remove 150 wire cages.

See photos of the event at this link.

 

 

 

2014 Putah Creek Cleanup

The 2014 Putah Creek Cleanup, hosted by Putah Creek Council in conjunction with California Coastal Cleanup Day and the International Coastal Cleanup, took place on Saturday, September 20th. Together, 79 volunteers were able to clear 2 miles of waterway and roadside of litter, old tires, hazardous spray paint cans and much much more. In all, over 3,000 pounds of garbage and 400 pounds of recyclables were collected and properly disposed of. The most unusual trash item was probably the Vespa scooter, which was found on a steep creek bank. The time and energy contributed by this outstanding group of volunteers was vital to the day’s huge accomplishment!

See photos of the event at this link.

Join Us for Putah Creek Cleanup 2015!

It's that amazing time of year again -- when Putah Creek enthusiasts of all ages come out for a rewarding morning of picking up refuse, trash and recyclables along their favorite reach of Putah Creek! Please join us for Putah Creek Cleanup 2015Saturday, September 19th, 9 am - 12 noon

Putah Creek Council has coordinated cleanups on Putah Creek since 1988, and thanks to the efforts of a generation of supporters, most of the large legacy dumps have been removed. But even though the big dumps are gone, lots of unsightly trash finds its way into Putah Creek annually. To help keep Putah Creek beautiful, approximately 100 volunteers come out to the creek on the 3rd Saturday in September each year to participate in our local cleanup effort.

Thanks to generous funding from the Water Resources Association of Yolo County, and partnership with Solano County Water Agency staff and interns, Putah Creek Council will coordinate several cleanup crews at sites on Putah Creek from South Fork Preserve at Mace Blvd. If you don't feel like picking up trash but still want to get involved, we would love your help checking in volunteers, distributing t-shirts, and setting up and serving lunch and drinks. Registration for the cleanup is required, please see below.

We will have two gathering spots this year - Rotary Park in Winters (for the the cleanup sites near Winters) and the Picnic Grounds at the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve (for the cleanup sites near Davis). The Winters Cleanup Sites include Lake Solano (by canoe), Winters Putah Creek Nature Park, and Putah Creek Road from Railroad Avenue to downstream of the I-505 overcrossing. The Davis Cleanup Sites include Stevenson Bridge, the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve, and City of Davis South Fork Preserve at Mace Blvd.

Because we need to have the correct amount of supplies and extra water at each site and also provide lunch after the cleanup, we ask that all participants register in advance for either the Winters or Davis cleanup sites.

Due to limited equipment availability, online registration is mandadory for any volunteers interested in the Lake Solano Canoe Cleanup. 

We hope to see you this year at the Cleanup! 

 

2015 Putah Creek Cleanup

The 2015 Putah Creek Cleanup, hosted by Putah Creek Council in conjunction with California Coastal Cleanup Day and the International Coastal Cleanup, took place on Saturday, September 19th. A whopping 176 volunteers were able to clear over 8 miles of waterway and roadside of 1100 lbs of recyclables and over 4,000 pounds of non-recyclable trash. Volunteers carted away mattresses, TVs, appliances, tires, furniture, hundreds of spray paint cans and cigarette butts, and other non-recyclable litter. The most unusual items collected included a beer keg & tap, a shopping cart, a golf ball & driving iron, and a Marlboro "end cigarette litter" pledge card.  

This huge accomplishment is due largely to the time and energy committed by this phenomenal team of site captains and volunteers. 

See photos of the event at the following links: Davis photos, Winters photos, Lake Solano photos.

 

Borba

Byron

Thorme

Putah Creek as a Salmon Stream - Believe It!

For years, Peter Moyle, U.C. Davis Professor and California fish expert, dreamed of the day when people could watch salmon spawning in Putah Creek from the Winters pedestrian bridge. Last year, his dream came true when a determined pair of salmon set up housekeeping immediately upstream of the construction crossing for the new Winters car bridge. Easily observed from the west side of the pedestrian bridge, this pair surprised many by spawning despite the construction activity and constant human presence.

These salmon were just two of an estimated 200 fall-run Chinook salmon that migrated up Putah Creek in December 2014 to spawn.  That was almost triple the highest number of fish ever recorded in any year over the previous 30 years, surprising everyone involved in the restoration of Putah Creek.  In a typical year, observers find fewer than 10 salmon in the creek.  

This year, the salmon run in Putah Creek is estimated to be over twice last year’s count! Ken Davis, an aquatic biologist who monitors the annual salmon run for the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee (LPCC), estimates that upward of 500 salmon have come up Putah Creek since the Los Rios check dam in the Yolo Bypass was removed in mid-November. Adding to everyone’s excitement are about 40 salmon that are spawning in the realigned and enhanced sections of Winters Putah Creek Park, including another fearless pair or two under the nearly completed car bridge.

Why so many salmon all of a sudden and where are they coming from? We don’t know conclusively why the number of salmon spawning in Putah Creek the past two years has been so much greater than in the recent past, but it is likely the result of at least three things: spawning flows, hatchery salmon responding to the drought, and habitat restoration.  

Spawning Flows Attract Salmon

By the 1990s, it was clear that small numbers of Chinook salmon moved up Putah Creek in late fall. To attract and support these salmon, Putah Creek Council worked with Dr. Moyle to develop a salmon spawning flow regime. These enhanced flows were incorporated into the 2000 Putah Creek Accord, which established environmental flows in Lower Putah Creek.

The spawning flows involve two steps. First, around December 1, farmers remove the Los Rios check dam. They also breach and widen a temporary crossing of the creek to allow unrestricted flows downstream and unimpeded access for salmon to migrate upstream. Then the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) releases enough water from the Putah Diversion Dam to maintain 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) flow for five consecutive days at the confluence of Putah Creek and the “Toe Drain.” The Toe Drain connects the mouth of Putah Creek to Prospect Slough, the Sacramento River, and the Delta.

This flow “pulse” attracts salmon moving up the Toe Drain into Putah Creek. After five days of increased flows, SCWA maintains flows at the creek’s confluence with the Toe Drain through mid-December. This allows additional salmon to move up Putah Creek, especially when there are big storms that produce natural “attraction flows.”  

Hatchery Fish and the Drought

Many of the Chinook salmon coming up Putah Creek are probably stray fish that were reared in the Feather River Hatchery. To improve their survival, these hatchery fish are released “off-site” in the San Francisco Bay Estuary rather than directly into unfavorable conditions in the Feather and Sacramento rivers.

When these hatchery-raised salmon mature and return from the ocean to the Sacramento River system to spawn, they don’t have a natal stream to home in on. The Putah Creek spawning flows are an attractive option to the low flows in the drought-impacted Sacramento River and the fish easily take a wrong turn into Prospect Slough and move up the Toe Drain.

In 2014, and again this year, large numbers of these salmon swam up Putah Creek past Davis immediately after the Los Rios check dam was removed. And, most importantly, as the salmon passed above the Pedrick Road overcrossing, they found good habitat for spawning.

Successful Habitat Restoration

Past gravel mining and channel straightening for flood conveyance in Putah Creek have removed or bypassed the gravels that salmon need to spawn and eliminated floodplains and side channels. But 15 years of dedicated restoration by the LPCCC has dramatically improved habitat conditions.

Rich Marovich, Putah Creek Streamkeeper, landowners, SCWA and Putah Creek Council have resized and realigned sections of creek channel, created floodplains and side channels that connect to the creek, installed rock weirs and log revetments, enhanced spawning gravels, controlled erosion, removed trash and invasive weeds, and established native riparian habitat.

The cumulative success of these restoration projects in Putah Creek has made a big difference. And no place on the creek exemplifies this success better than Winters Putah Creek Park, formerly the site of a derelict percolation dam, gravel extraction pits, and sewage aeration ponds.  The City of Winters, Winters Putah Creek Committee, LPCCC, SCWA and Putah Creek Council have worked together for 10 years to transform this reach into a publicly accessible river parkway with suitable habitat for spawning salmon and other native fishes. The 40 salmon observed in the park this year are a wonderful beginning. After the new car bridge is completed and the last section of the creek is improved, there could be many more salmon spawning in the park in late November each year.

The Future

Although recent Putah Creek salmon runs are probably mostly hatchery strays, Dr. Moyle believes that the offspring can return as wild salmon. Every year, surveys by UCD students find juvenile salmon moving downstream in the spring.  And a recent study by DWR suggests that the Toe Drain is actually a better place for salmon rearing than the Sacramento River.  Assuming these fish will grow large and migrate to the ocean, they can return to Putah Creek in 2-4 years to spawn. If they don’t get swamped out each year by less-fit hatchery strays, we could develop a wild Putah Creek salmon run.

From the habitat enhancement successes thus far, and the prospects for future restoration, the goal for spawning salmon in Putah Creek could be thousands.  A tenfold increase in spawning habitat is possible by restoring a more natural form to additional reaches of the creek.

As Dr. Moyle recently stated in a California Water Blog post, “Putah Creek as a salmon stream – hold that thought!”

Join us for our first "Celebrate Putah Creek" Conference!

On Sunday, April 3rd, 1-5pm at the Winters Community Center, Putah Creek Council will host the first ever “Celebrate Putah Creek!” conference. We hope that this will be the first of many future annual or biannual events.  Admission is free. 

The purpose of this conference is to recount the historical and more recent water management of the creek. The Council is inviting qualified speakers to talk about the political and scientific realities of the creek in common‐language terms.

Other community‐based organizations will also participate. Believing that thriving creeks build thriving communities, the Council envisions that this event will lead to a greater common understanding of the many interacting interests, roles and responsibilities that guide creek activities.

All interested adults and children are invited to attend the conference.  

Adults are invited to join an after-conference gathering for socializing: 5:00 – 6:30pm at RootStock, located at 22 Main Street in Winters. 

Click this link,  "Celebrate Putah Creek" Conferencefor more information and to register to attend.

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Photo: City of Davis South Fork Preserve by Tim Messick. 

 

 

Soil Amendment Study Underway in Winters Putah Creek Nature Park

Wood chips and walnut hulls…flags and cages…things are happening at Winters Putah Creek Nature Park. If you have visited the park in the last few months, you may have wondered about the lumps on the floodplain - raised areas where the soil has been tilled and mixed with other materials. You may have noticed flags of different hues grouped sporadically, like colorful flocks of birds. Or you might have seen a group of boisterous volunteers installing plants and cages in an ongoing effort to revegetate the floodplain. These plantings are part of a soil amendment study to address the problem of soil compaction in some areas of the park.

The goal of the Winters Putah Creek Nature Park restoration project, started in the fall of 2011, is to improve the condition of a highly degraded creek channel and streamside forest, and to reconcile its function to meet the needs of both humans and wildlife alike. This plan involved narrowing the channel, lowering the floodplain to facilitate overbank flooding, and replacing invasive plants with native riparian species. The project, along with others upstream in Putah Creek, has been wildly successful in bringing back salmon to the creek, but has faced challenges regarding the re-establishment and growth of native floodplain vegetation. Some of these challenges include four consecutive years of drought, severe damage to plantings by beaver, and soil compaction. 

To address some of these issues, Rich Marovich and Solano County Water Agency (SCWA), in partnership with soil scientist Michael Hogan and rangeland ecologist Craig Thomsen, have developed a trial to test the effectiveness of different soil amendments in promoting plant growth. Last summer SCWA created the first 17 trial plots, loosening soil to a depth of two feet and mixing in wood chips and walnut hulls. This February, Putah Creek Council staff, SCWA interns, and 52 volunteers came out over the course of six days to install almost 1000 native plants in the test plots, including willows and other trees, California wild rose, white root sedge, and mugwort. Many of the trees and shrubs were also caged to protect them from excessive browsing by beavers. 

Meanwhile on the south banks of the creek, the next phase of test plots is underway. SCWA began by deep planting large diameter cottonwood, willow, and mulefat cuttings, installing them to a depth of eight to ten feet to ensure contact with the water table. New trial plots adjacent to the pole plantings were dug to a similar depth. Here, the effects of planting riparian trees in soils that have been loosened down to the water table and amended in the top two feet will be evaluated. The pole cuttings are already leafing out and it may not be long before a line of fast growing trees and shrubs will be visible from the north bank of Putah Creek!

If you would like to learn more about and be a part of this Winters Putah Creek Nature Park project, check the Putah Creek Council Event Calendar on our website for upcoming volunteer opportunities this spring.

Photos:  Top - SCWA intern Galen Hoshovsky helps a community volunteer cage a box elder, by Amy Williams. Middle - Humphrey Fellows Harum Mukhayer and Kelsey Hutchinson plant California wild rose in the Winters Putah Creek Nature Park amended plots, by Amy Williams. Bottom - Large diameter pole cuttings of willow, cottonwood, and mulefat are beginning to sprout on the south banks of Winters Putah Creek Nature Park, courtesy of SCWA. 

Fall 2015

"Salmon-in-the-Classroom" is a Fishy Success

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Springtime means education season here at Putah Creek Council, and one of our bigger programs – Salmon-in-the-Classroom – is wrapping up for the year. This was our third year offering salmon and steelhead education to local students. We’re thrilled to be able to teach so many young people about California’s native salmon and steelhead and make the connection to the Chinook salmon that are increasingly coming up Putah Creek in late fall to spawn. 

Our Salmon-in-the-Classroom curriculum and program is supported by contributions from Council donors and sponsorships from the Water Resources Association of Yolo County, Pacific Gas and Electric, and First Northern Bank. 

In Salmon-in-the-Classroom, students learn about the life cycle, ecology, and importance of native California salmonids while raising Chinook salmon or steelhead trout in their classrooms. Local teachers receive fish eggs from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and tanks from Fly Fishers of Davis. Their students get to see the fish hatch and grow every school day, and the fish provide a handy teaching tool. Council education staff deliver lessons in which students explore connections between people and trout, or poke through trout innards and discover the uses of different fins. We discuss the many ways in which components of our ecosystem are connected, and where fish (and humans) fit in. In 7th grade, we experienced first-hand some of the hazards that fish face, and were surprised at how few fish survive to adulthood.

These lessons prepare students for, and build upon, field trips to two vastly different fish nurseries. Younger students visited Knaggs Ranch in the Yolo Bypass, where we learned how rice farmers and fish researchers are working together to manage water and land so many different creatures can use it – finned, feathered, and human. We saw shorebirds foraging in rice fields, fingerling salmon growing fat on a zooplankton feast, and experienced how poorly-sheltered the Bypass is in a rainstorm. 

The 7th graders visited the Nimbus Hatchery in Rancho Cordova, where we talked more in-depth about how salmon and trout are managed in California. Students got to see what a big salmon river looks like, feed rainbow trout, and observe the impacts of a dam up close.

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Finally, after 6-8 weeks of an aquarium humming away in their classroom, the students venture to the American River to release their carefully-tended fish. Placing “ambassador fish” in a classroom is a delightfully effective teaching tool – the fish grow and are released similar to how they would be raised in a hatchery, and they get the same start in life. But at the same time, they colonize the hearts of the students who raise them and help form a lifelong memory. Really, the fish do most of the work - all we do is step in to add some details and deepen that connection.

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What we’re hoping is that if these students keep that connection, or if they know even a few facts about their local, native fish – what they are, what they do, why they are important – they will come back to the creek not just a more educated visitor, but a more conscientious one as well.
 
In the last classroom lesson for the Winters 7th grade science class, we discussed challenges that salmon and steelhead face – ranging from short-term obstacles, like predators and food supply, to long-term problems like habitat loss, climate change, and human overpopulation. For their final assignment, the students wrote an essay answering the question, “How can my choices positively impact steelhead populations?” Winters’ 7th graders rose to the challenge, and I’m confident that their steelhead will know a better world for it. 

Support Putah Creek Council on The Big Day of Giving Tuesday, May 3rd!

Last year Putah Creek Council participated in the Big Day of Giving for the first time and we raised $11,638 from 125 online donors, exceeding our modest goal of $10,000. That $11,638 provided a significant increase in our 2015 annual education budget and allowed us to offer some wonderful K-12+ education experiences to Winters and Davis students last summer and this spring.

The Big Day of Giving is a 24-hour online fundrasing event that celebrates and supports the nonprofit community in our entire region. Last year, over 23,000 individuals gave $5.5 million to 529 deserving nonprofits in Yolo, Sacramento, El Dorado, and Placer counties. This year, we will join nearly 600 nonprofits to raise over $6 million dollars and engage 30,000 donors! 

Putah Creek Council will participate in the 2016 Big Day of Giving on May 3rd and we sincerely hope you will too. There are dozens of prize challenges and incentives to amplify your donation and make an even bigger difference. 

Our goal this year is to raise at least $15,000 and engage 175 donors. Every contribution we receive helps support our creek-based K-12+ education efforts and community stewardship events.

This year we have two fun incentives that we hope will provide some excitement and inspire you to give generously to Putah Creek Council on May 3rd:   

First, we will have a match pool of $5,000 in pledges from Council board members and some special Putah Creek "friends." Once we reach our first $5K in donations onMay 3rd, the match pool immediately doubles our contributions - BOOM! You will be able to monitor our progress toward reaching our "Board and Friends" match goal on our Putah Creek Council Big Day of Giving donation page. 

Second, each $25 online BigDOG 2016 donation we receive on May 3rd will be entered into two separate drawings for two limited-edition, signed, fine art Putah Creek posters by Rob Stone - Willow and Spring on Lake Solano - each one valued at over $100. If you donate $25, you will receive one entry into each drawing; if you donate $50, two entries; $75, three; $100, four; and so on. The larger your BigDOG contribution, the better your chances of winning one of the posters!

We hope you will participate in BigDOG this year and choose to support the Council in the following ways: 

>  Mark your calendar now for May 3rd and plan to make a donation. All BigDOG donations are enhanced by a pool of incentive funds. For example, Golden 1 Credit Union has returned for more BigDOG fun this year! When Golden 1 members use their Golden 1 debit or credit card to make a BiG Day of Giving donation, the contribution will get an extra boost – Golden 1 will proportionately match up to $50,000 in members’ online gifts! 

>  Time your tax-deductible gift(s) to help us win one or both of these prize challenges and BOOST your contribution:

  • Make a donation right at 12:00:00 am or at 11:59:59 pm and put us in the running for one of the $500-$3,000 "Blast Off" or "Landing" prizes. Last year we won the $500 Yolo Landing Prize!
  • Or, make a donation between 9 and 10 AM and help us win that $1,000 "Hourly" prize.  

>  Spread the word about BigDOG 2016. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to contribute. Follow us on facebook and twitter and share our #BigDOG2016 posts and tweets.

Thank you in advance for participating in the 2016 Big Day of Giving. If you have any questions about Putah Creek Council's programs, if you would like to contribute to our BigDOG "Board and Friends" match pool, or if you want to know more about the drawings for Rob Stone's posters, please feel free to call the Council's office at: 530-795-3006. 

 

 

We Celebrated Putah Creek

We wanted to thank all those in the Putah Creek community for the outstanding support on April 3, 2016 at the “Celebrate Putah Creek” event held in Winters at the Community Center.  For four hours, 18 professionals gave of their time and expertise, 10 organizations were available for questions, and 11 sponsors made the refreshments, conference hall, and mixer possible.

Downey Brand, the Sacramento River Watershed Program, Yolo Basin Foundation, the Dry Creek Citizens Group, the City of Winters, McCord Environmental, Inc., Rootstock, Winters Frinds of Putah Creek, Route 3, Tuleyome, and Marr Cellars gave products, services and spaces that allowed the celebration to occur. 

SLEWS, Nature’s Theater, Putah Creek Trout, the Sierra Club, Winters Friends of Putah Creek, Yolo Basin Foundation, Winters History Project, Rob Stone, Putah Creek Council, and the Dry Creek Citizens Group displayed their organizations and services.

Last but not least DJ Worley, Pam Gonzales, Lois Wolk, Woody Fridae, Joann Larkey, David Okita, Roland Sanford, Dan O’Hanlon, Joe Krovoza, Peter Moyle, Sharon Lawler, David Kelley, Ellen Dean, Leila Harris, Melanie Truan, and Alejandro Garcia shared with us their expertise in areas of culture, history, legal background of the Accord for Putah Creek water flows, soils, plants, wildlife and fish.

Finally, our superior committee composed of Valerie Whitworth, Stephen McCord, Melissa Thorme, and Kate Mawdsley - with great support from Tina Compton, Atley Keller, and Eric Davis - worked tirelessly from January to April.  The result was a seamless four hours with refreshments and fun as well as professional input and a lovely gathering at Rootstock to finalize the day.

We hope those of you who attended found the time interesting and worthwhile and those who did not make it, look for another celebration within the next two years.

 

 

Donate Today on the Big Day of Giving!

To make a donation to Putah Creek Council today on the Big Day of Giving, click here:  Putah Creek Council BigDOG Page 

For a quick introduction about how to make a donation on the Big Day of Giving, watch this video:  How to Make a Donation During the Big Day of Giving

For more information about our pool of matching funds and prizes, click here:  Support Putah Creek Council on the Big Day of Giving, May 3rd!

Thank you very much. Your contributions to Putah Creek Council are deeply appreciated!

-- Carrie Shaw, Executive Director

 

 

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Lower Putah Creek Restoration Project Draft Program EIR Released for Review and Public Comment Meeting Scheduled

Notice of Availability
Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR)
Solano County Water Agency

Project: Lower Putah Creek Restoration Project – Upper Reach Project
Program Location: Putah Creek between the Putah Diversion Dam and the western boundary of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.

Overview:  The Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) addresses the potential environmental impacts of the Lower Putah Creek Restoration Project, Upper Reach Project, a component of the Lower Putah Creek Restoration Project, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP Grant No E1183015). The Lower Putah Creek Restoration Project Upper Reach Project (hereafter referred to as “the Program”) proposes to restore and enhance geomorphic and ecological function on approximately 24.2 miles of Putah Creek between the Putah Diversion Dam (PDD) and the western boundary of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (YBWA) (see Figure 1). This reach of Putah Creek crosses a combination of privately (primarily) and publically owned lands in Solano and Yolo counties. The restoration efforts analyzed in this PEIR are planned by the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) and the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee (LPCCC) for implementation over the next 15 years. The SCWA is the CEQA lead agency for the Project.

This PEIR is intended to provide the public, responsible agencies, and trustee agencies with information about the potential environmental effects of the proposed Program, which is the CEQA “Project.” SCWA has prepared this PEIR in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) of 1970 (as amended) and the State CEQA Guidelines (14 California Code of Regulations [CCR]) Section 15000 et seq.).

This PEIR is intended to meet CEQA requirements and to integrate CEQA review with related consultations and anticipated programmatic and project-level permit requirements. SCWA, in its role as the lead agency, will use the PEIR to comply with CEQA review requirements for its approval of each of the restoration activities described herein. Program-level documentation may provide sufficient CEQA analysis to meet site-specific, project-level analysis for future projects, or additional documentation may be needed to fulfill CEQA compliance. This determination will be made by the lead agency on a case-by-case basis, typically with preparation of an Initial Study. 

Description of the Proposed Project: The project proposes to restore and enhance geomorphological and ecological function on approximately 24.2 miles of Putah Creek between the Putah Diversion Dam and the western boundary of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. Project activities include the following: Modify channel geometry, construct grade/flow control structures, stabilize channel banks, improve fish spawning gravel, fill abandoned gravel pits, remove invasive vegetation, plant native vegetation, irrigate native vegetation sites, manage non-native vegetation at restored sites, and maintain long-term access points.
Significant Environmental Effects: The project will have potentially significant impacts to noise levels during construction. The project will have no long-term impacts to noise levels. The mitigation measures in the PEIR will reduce all other environmental impacts to less-than-significant.

Public Review Period: The public review and comment period will be from June 3, 2016 to July 22, 2016. Written comments or questions should be mailed to: Solano County Water Agency, Putah Creek PEIR, 810 Vaca Valley Parkway, Suite 203, Vacaville, CA 95688.

A public comment meeting will be held on June 28, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Winters Community Center (Main Hall), 201 Railroad Avenue, Winters, CA 95694.

Copies of the PEIR may be reviewed electronically at http://www.scwa2.com/about-us/publications or at the following locations during normal business hours:

1) Solano County Water Agency, 810 Vaca Valley Parkway, Suite 203, Vacaville, CA 95688
2) Winters Community Library, 708 Railroad Avenue, Winters, CA 95694
3) Mary L. Stephens – Davis Branch Library, 315 E. 14th Street, Davis, CA 95616
4) Dixon Public Library, 230 North First St., Dixon, CA 95620
5) Ulatis Cultural Center Library, 1020 Ulatis Drive, Vacaville, CA 95687

 

 

UC Davis Arboretum Waterway Improvements Coming!

The UC Davis campus has developed a master plan and a funding strategy for making a series of significant improvements to the Arboretum Waterway. Construction of the first phase of work will start this summer at the east end of the waterway and will continue through the end of the year. The Arboretum will be hosting a public information session about the waterway project on Wednesday, June 29th from 6:00 to 7:30 pm at the Wyatt Deck, and I hope you can attend to learn more about the project.

Primary objectives for the project include increasing flow, deepening and narrowing the channel, and introducing more native wetland vegetation to the banks. These actions will reduce the growth of algae and duckweed, reduce sedimentation, improve water quality, and improve the wildlife habitat value of the waterway. The first phase of the project will begin at the far east end and continue to the Wyatt Deck. In order to create flow in this part of the waterway, we will introduce small elevation changes via weirs – barriers across water that alter its flow characteristics. Picture a series of large, natural steps with water cascading down; the highest weir in this phase will be installed near the east end of the waterway. A large pump will recirculate the water from Spafford Lake back to the east end to continue the circulation.

In August, this project will kick off with the creation of a small dam near Wyatt Deck to allow us to drain the phase one area and separate it from the rest of the Waterway. The aquatic wildlife (turtles, fish, etc.) will be moved to Lake Spafford before the construction starts. After the east end has been drained and given time to dry out, it will be dredged to remove excess sediment. The elevation changes necessary for the weirs to function properly will be graded, the weirs constructed, the Waterway banks strengthened, and then finished with newly planted wetland vegetation. In conjunction with the Waterway improvements, we will also be renovating the pathway on the south side of this area to meet ADA requirements, eliminate safety hazards, and improve its quality. The brick pathway that begins in the Arboretum GATEway Garden will soon extend all the way to the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove.

During the Waterway and path construction period (late summer through the end of the calendar year), Arboretum path closures will be required to allow the contractors to perform their work. Detour signage will be posted, and updates about the project will be available on the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden website at publicgarden.ucdavis.edu/waterway.

This phase of the Waterway project is made possible through maintenance funds from campus. Please note that the first phase of work will not have an impact on Lake Spafford or the western portion of the Waterway. Those areas will be addressed in subsequent phases over the next 3-5 years. To stay informed about this project and its progress, as well as future phases of the Arboretum Waterway improvement project, please be sure you are signed up to receive The Leaflet, the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden’s e-newsletter. Email us atarboretum@ucdavis.edu and include the word “newsletter” in the subject line to subscribe.

If you have any specific questions about the project, please contact Andrew Fulks at amfulks@ucdavis.edu.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Socolofsky

Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director

UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden

Employment Opportunity with Putah Creek Council!

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY – JOB ANNOUNCEMENT

Join the coolest creek conservation crew around! Putah Creek Council seeks a part-time Administrative Assistant to work in our Winters office. 

As a member of the Putah Creek Council staff team, the Administrative Assistant (AA) reports to the Executive Director and performs a variety of financial, administrative, and office support duties to ensure smooth and efficient operation of the office. The AA performs skilled word processing, and data entry, carries out financial activities, and provides information and service to the public, the Council’s board of directors, and our partners, contractors, vendors, volunteers, members and donors. The AA also helps on a wide variety of Council projects and programs. 

RESPONSIBILITIES

1.    Financial ~ 35%
•    Operate and maintain the Council’s online computerized bookkeeping system (QuickBooks).
•    Process accounts receivable and make bank deposits.
•    Prepare monthly financial statements. 

2.    Database ~ 15%  
•    Help maintain the Council’s contacts database (CiviCRM).

3.    Office Duties ~ 15%
•    Answer phone and take messages. Greet visitors to the office.  
•    Handle incoming and outgoing mail.
•    Maintain inventory of general office and organization equipment.
•    Maintain inventory of Council “products,” and order more when necessary. 
•    Help maintain office equipment and Council vehicle in good repair and keep required records. 
•    Purchase office supplies and food/drinks for volunteers.
•    Organize and maintain hard copy and computerized filing system and record storage.
•    Participate in occasional office cleaning events.  
•    Perform other duties as assigned to support all programs and projects as requested.

4.    Fundraising ~ 15%
•    Manage the membership program; send membership renewal reminders and thank-you notes; prepare monthly membership reports.
•    Track donations and prepare monthly donor reports.
•    Assist with Big Day of Giving (BigDOG) in May.

5.    Outreach ~ 10%
•    Help maintain and update the Council’s website content.
•    Make Council facebook posts and Twitter tweets as needed. 
•    Maintain the tabling/outreach event supplies box.
•    Help with logistics of annual Stewardship Potluck (April).

6.    Board Support ~ 5%
•    Keep Board Handbook and Board Recruitment Packet/Application current.
•    Maintain and distribute Staff and Board contact list.
•    Assist board chair with annual board retreat (January).  

7.    Program Support ~ 5%
•    Help staff the annual fall Putah Creek Cleanup as needed. 
•    Assist with Council education events as needed. 

QUALIFICATIONS

•    High School diploma required and two years of relevant work experience preferred.
•    Excellent verbal and written communication skills.  
•    Good keyboarding skills and ability to type accurately and quickly.  
•    Experience with QuickBooks bookkeeping desktop or online software (preferred), or general bookkeeping experience and willingness to learn and become proficient at QuickBooks Online. 
•    Experience with the following software (or willingness to learn and become proficient):  Microsoft Windows and Office Suite programs (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), online Google applications: Gmail, Calendar and Drive, and Adobe software (Acrobat, Photoshop, and InDesign). 
•    Experience with, or willingness to learn, website and contact database programs (Drupal and CiviCRM). 
•    Demonstrated ability to provide high quality customer service. 
•    Ability to work as part of a “team” as well as independently at times. 
•    Willingness to work occasional weekday evenings or weekend days, if necessary. 
•    A valid California driver’s license and good driving record.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS 

The AA must have the mobility to work in a standard office setting and use standard office equipment, including a computer and copier; the vision to read printed materials and a computer screen, and; the hearing and speech to communicate in person, before groups, and over the telephone. Finger dexterity is needed to use a computer keyboard, calculator, and other standard office equipment. Must be able to bend, stoop, kneel, reach, and push and pull drawers open and closed. The AA must also have the ability to climb a step ladder and lift and carry objects weighing up to 25 pounds. 

Position Information:

This is a half-time, non-exempt position for 20 hours per week for six months from date of hire with the intent to continue employment depending on available funding. Main work hours will be during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm) with the potential for occasional work on weekends or in the evening. 

Compensation and Benefits:
•    Pay Range:  $16.00 - $20.50 per hour (starting pay is commensurate with education, experience and skills)
•    Flexible work schedule
•    $200/month medical insurance stipend 
•    Paid vacation, holidays and sick time  
•    Fidelity Simple-IRA Plan and 3% company match 

Application Process:

•    Qualified applicants please submit a cover letter and resumé together in one document to:  admin@putahcreekcouncil.org.

•    Please no phone calls or walk-ins. Thank you.  

•    Deadline to submit is 12:00 midnight on Sunday, August 7, 2016. 

 

 

Sid England Receives 2016 Putah Creek Keeper Award

Sid England was recognized this year with Putah Creek Council's Putah Creek Keeper Community Award.

Sid, recently retired from U.C. Davis, joins a special list of Putah Creek supporters who have made significant contributions to protecting and enhancing Putah Creek. Sid, and his wife Randy Beaton, were honored at a special dinner hosted by Robin Kulakow and Bill Julian and Sid received a framed special, limited edition print of Putah Creek by Davis photographer, Rob Stone. 

Formerly the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability at U.C. Davis, Sid became involved in Putah Creek affairs immediately after starting his job as the university's first environmental planner.  On his first day of work in 1990, his supervisor pointed to a stack of papers and said "I left something on your desk...it's something legal and I don't really know what it's about. Figure it out and let me know what's going on." It turned out to be the first notice from Solano County Water Agency that they were proposing to adjudicate the riparian water rights of Putah Creek. 

Sid became the U.C. Davis "point person" throughout the Putah Creek adjudication, eventual litigation and Accord negotiations (1990 - 2000). He and Marjorie Dickinson, who was UCD's director of government and community relations at the time (and who is now an Assistant Chancellor), worked closely with Putah Creek Council to coordinate expert UCD faculty (fisheries biologist Peter Moyle, water law professor Hap Dunning, water resource engineer Vern Scott) and the university's lawyer, Alan Lilly.

Through his active involvement with Davis (now Yolo) Audubon for over 30 years, Sid has also shared with birdwatchers his enthusiasm for Putah Creek's regionally-important riparian and wetland habitats. Although retired from the university and Yolo Audubon, Sid, and his wife, Randy Beaton, continue to support Putah Creek Council and our ongoing efforts to protect and enhance Putah Creek.

Past recipients of the Council's Putah Creek Keeper Awards are:

The Putah Creek Council founding board: Steve Chainey, Susan Sanders, and Robin Kulakow; Dr. William Schnathorst (Davis Fly Fishers); Valerie Whitworth (Dry Creek Citizens Group); Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Peter Moyle (U.C. Davis); Former Congresssional Representative Vic Fazio; State Senator Lois Wolk; Tom and Ginny Cahill and Tom Tombrello (creek landowners); Putah-Cache Bioregion Group leader, Professor Emeritus David Robertson (U.C. Davis); Professor Michael Marchetti (St. Mary's College), one of the principal developers of the Native Species Recovery Plan for Lower Putah Creek in 1996; Jeanne Wirka (Winters Putah Creek Committee); Craig McNamara (creek landowner); City of Davis; and Gus Yates (groundwater hydrologist).  

At the June Putah Creek Keeper Award dinner for Sid England (left-to-right): Barbara Kendrick, Dan O'Hanlon, Carrie Shaw, Bill Julian, Randy Beaton and Sid England, Robin Kulakow, Susan Sanders, and Peter Moyle.

 

 

Putah Creek Council Seeks Board Members

Putah Creek Council is seeking knowledgeable, engaged individuals to join our board of directors. Putah Creek Council protects and enhances Putah Creek, its watershed, and tributaries through advocacy, education, and community-based stewardship. We envision Putah Creek as a thriving corridor of native riparian and aquatic ecosystems connecting the Inner Coast Range to the Yolo Basin, and ultimately the Delta and the ocean and we promote an engaged community of people who value and care for Putah Creek and its watershed.

Board membership is a renewable two-year commitment with terms beginning in October. New board members are desired to bring new ideas and energy that support the organization. The board convenes locally every 1-2 months throughout the year, including one day-long annual retreat, to develop appropriate policies, plans, and budgets. Board members also support the organization by helping with fundraising activities and generally representing the organization in the community.

Interested individuals can view and download a board service information and application packet or contact the board chair, Stephen McCord, by email (Stephen.a.mccord@gmail.com) or phone (530-220-3165) to discuss this opportunity and to apply for the position. 

 

Join the Lake Solano Docent Team

Do you love nature?

Share that joy with others as a Lake Solano Docent!

What's a Docent?
A docent is a trained guide who conducts tours, leads guided walks, or otherwise helps the public understand the park's resources and opportunities. Docents are volunteers who donate their time and skills toward improving visitors' experience and enjoyment of Lake Solano Park. 

Who we are
Lake Solano Docents are a dedicated group of volunteers who enrich the visitor experience at our local county park and help serve the mission of Solano County Parks. The Docent team assists the Lake Solano Rangers in interpreting, restoring and preserving the natural and cultural history of Lake Solano by leading interpretive hikes, and helping with trail and native flora restoration projects. Docents are responsible for inspiring visitors and helping the public learn about the diverse resources at Lake Solano Park in Winters, CA.

How you can join

Docents commit to 12 hours a year at the park and must abide by relevant Solano County rules and regulations. The Lake Solano Docent team recruits and trains new volunteer members each fall to share their love of natural and cultural history through guided tours, canoe trips, and other outreach activities. Docents should be eager to learn and eager to share their knowledge.  New docents must participate in training events. 

For more information call the Council office at 530-795-3006, or email Karin Young, Education Coordinator, at karin@putahcreekcouncil.org.. 

Berryessa Snow Mountain Community Conversations

The public is invited to participate in Community Conversations about the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Management Plan. There will be a meeting in Winters this Wednesday, September 28th at the Winters Community Center 5:30 - 7:00 pm. 

The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are hosting community meetings for the planning efforts underway on management of the Monument. Your interests and concerns are important. These conversations are an opportunity to express what you value in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Workshops will be open house format, with resource specialists providing information at individual tables and gathering input from the public.

The USDA Forest Service (FS) and the USDI Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have begun the process for developing a Management Plan for the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. The process included hiring a Monument Manager, who will work from the BLM’s Ukiah office; additional Monument operations will be conducted out of the FS’s Upper Lake Ranger District office. The planning process continues with a series of regional meetings at which members of the public can meet with FS and BLM staff to identify issues and concerns that should be addressed as part of the Management Plan. The first meeting took place in Lakeport on September 14; two additional public meetings are scheduled:

The identified purposes of the National Monument designation include the conservation, management, and protection for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations the ecological, scenic, recreational, archaeological, historic, educational, and scientific resource values of the lands included in the National Monument. To assure that this purpose is met, members of the public need to express their desires to agency staff that these values be addressed in the National Monument’s Management Plan.

Please come and express your thoughts on the values of the region and what you feel the management plan should include. For example, these expressions may include:

  • Tell the story of plate tectonics and earth sciences;
  • Protect iconic plant communities and wildlife in the region;
  • Sustain underlying watershed dynamics and hydrological processes;
  • Address forest health, including pests, diseases, fire, and fuels reduction;
  • Ensure landscape-based habitat connectivity and facilitate species migration;
  • Interpret and protect cultural values, including Native American uses as well as historical forestry, mining, farming, and grazing; and
  • Assess climate change information pertinent to the National Monument and develop a climate change adaptation strategy.

Other concerns that could be expressed for the Management Plan include:

  • Describe locations for appropriate uses in the National Monument;
  • Identify short-term and long-term management actions for the National Monument that consider the projected availability of resources;
  • Include a weed management component (including use of grazing as appropriate) to guide noxious weed control efforts and activities;
  • Include a habitat restoration component, including both locations and methods;
  • Include a recreational opportunity enhancement component, including legal OHV use;
  • Include a native fish passage and habitat quality improvement component;
  • Include a component that addresses public safety and environmental cleanup issues associated with illegal marijuana production within the National Monument;
  • Identify areas outside of designated wilderness in which non-motorized recreation would be emphasized; and
  • Identify opportunities to promote voluntary cooperative conservation projects with state, local government, and private interests.

 

 

 
 

Putah Creek Council Job Opening: Executive Director

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Putah Creek Council is a grassroots non-profit organization that protects and enhances Putah Creek and its watershed through advocacy, education and community-based stewardship. Founded in 1988, the Council is widely recognized as an authority on the ecology and conservation of the Lower Putah Creek watershed.

Governed by a 6-12 person Board of Directors, Putah Creek Council’s work is carried out by the Executive Director and a professional staff of three. The Council’s work is funded by grants and donations, and supported by hundreds of volunteers. Presently, the organization’s budget is approximately $300,000 and it is expected to increase as revenue increases. For more information: www.putahcreekcouncil.org.

POSITION SUMMARY 

The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors and leads the organization consistent with the mission, values, policies, and plans of the Council. Working with the Board of Directors, the Executive Director manages the Council’s programs and projects, supervises staff, and oversees the organization’s day-to-day operations. The Executive Director of Putah Creek Council must be an energetic, experienced, and passionate leader who will continue to improve the Council’s community stewardship and environmental education programs and ensure the organization’s long-term viability and effectiveness.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Leadership

  • Collaborate with the Board to provide direction for short- and long-term goals.
  • Work with the Board and staff to maintain and improve existing programs and to develop new programs and services, which serve the mission and vision of the Council and achieve the goals of the organization.
  • Provide leadership and vision for the Council’s stewardship and education programs.
  • Take a leadership role in local and regional efforts that affect Putah Creek.

Management and Operations

  • Maintain the organization’s nonprofit status.
  • Manage grant-funded contracts and agreements, including reporting and invoicing.
  • Oversee and manage the Council’s day-to-day operations and programs to stay within the board-approved annual budget. Authorize and monitor expenditures.
  • Work with the Board to develop the annual budget and work plan.
  • Ensure appropriate staff levels to carry out the Council’s programs.
  • Recruit and train highly qualified and effective staff members.
  • Collaborate with staff and provide leadership, direction, support and resources necessary to maintain excellent stewardship and education programs to ensure appropriate staff levels to carry out the council’s programs.
  • Assess staff performance and conduct annual staff reviews. 

Outreach and Communications

  • Serve as the Council’s spokesperson, representative, and advocate at local and regional meetings, conferences, hearings, and other events.
  • Deliver professional presentations, as appropriate.
  • Manage the content of the Council’s website.
  • Produce a high-quality printed annual newsletter and monthly electronic newsletters. 
  • Increase the Council’s visibility throughout the region through print media, outreach at events, and social media.

Partnerships

  • Support the Council’s position on the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and work collaboratively with the Putah Creek Streamkeeper.
  • Maintain and develop partnerships and working relationships with organizations and individuals throughout the watershed to support the Council’s mission and programs.

Fund Development

  • Work with the Board to develop and carry out a comprehensive and diverse fund development plan, including memberships, donations, corporate sponsorships, agency funding, foundation grants, major gifts, and planned giving/legacy donations.
  • Manage the organization’s membership and donor database.

Board Relations

  • Participate in Board meetings.
  • Provide open, clear, and effective communication to maintain a strong collaborative relationship with the Board.
  • Provide timely, accurate and complete financial and management reports to the Board.
  • Implement the Board’s policies, strategic planning, and decisions.          
  • Provide information to the Board chair and committees, as needed.
  • Collaborate with the Board to produce an Annual Report on the Council’s programs and finances.

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • At least five years of relevant leadership/management experience with a nonprofit organization or similar organization.
  • A professional, flexible, and resourceful working style, including willingness to work evenings and weekends as needed.
  • Outstanding interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills to work effectively with staff, board members, partners, scientists, supporters/donors, and the public.
  • Excellent organizational skills, time management and attention to detail.
  • Experience working collaboratively with people of different backgrounds, as well as leading, managing, and supervising a staff team.
  • Computer technology skills, including Office suite, Google Drive, Adobe products, relational databases, website design, and QuickBooks for Nonprofits.
  • Experience writing, implementing, and assessing grants.
  • Ability to implement and report on contracts and agreements, including managing subcontractors.
  • Demonstrated success in fundraising, including grant writing and building relationships with donors.
  • A passion for community-based, natural resource and environmental education.
  • Possession of a valid California driver’s license.

DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • Bachelor’s degree (minimum) with major or significant coursework in an area such as biology, ecology, restoration, environmental science/studies, natural resources, geography, geology, hydrology, plant or soil sciences, landscape architecture, nature interpretation, science education, etc.
  • Experience with hands-on restoration, including use of appropriate tools and equipment, and a working knowledge of native plants.
  • Understanding of the complex natural resource and policy issues affecting the Lower Putah Creek watershed.
  • Willingness to step in and carry out operational or program activities as needed.
  • Ability to work outdoors in inclement weather and to safely lift and move 50 lbs.

COMPENSATION

Salary Range:  $55,000-70,000 per year. Starting salary commensurate with education, experience and skills. Benefits are competitive.

LOCATION

Putah Creek Council’s office is located in downtown Winters, California.

HOW TO APPLY

Qualified applicants submit the following three items together as one file (.pdf or .docx) via email:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Writing sample (3-5 paragraphs) for a newsletter or other outreach piece, which conveys your ability to clearly interpret nature to the general public.

Submit by December 15, 2016 to admin@putahcreekcouncil.org

Target Start Date – April 2017

Background check and references may be required.

 

 

The Putah Creek Legacy

SAVING PUTAH CREEK

Chapter One:  The Drought. Is a creek still a creek if it doesn't have any water? 

Chapter Two:  Whose Creek? The Web of Water. The Putah Creek Council sought to restore a degraded and forgotten waterway ­­—­ but then the creek ran out of water. Getting it back meant entering the tangled web of California water politics.

Chapter Three:  A Creek in Court. A decade-long lawsuit over Putah Creek hinged on the question: how much water should we give to fish?

Chapter Four:  The Pied Piper. Rich Marovich was hired to lead Putah Creek's restoration efforts, but locals say he's healed much more than the creek.

Chapter Five: 181 Dams. Lessons Learned from Putah Creek. The Putah Creek story isn't over. The scientists behind its remarkable success say there are 181 other dams in California where a little water could go a long way for native fish.

The Putah Creek Legacy is a joint reporting project from the The Davis Enterprise and Climate Confidential and was published December 7-12, 2014. It is part of Local Edition, a series of joint reporting projects with community news organizations like The Enterprise. These stories explore the intersection of local issues and global environmental problems. This work is funded by readers like you. 

Writer: Elizabeth Case
Producer: Celeste LeCompte
Editors: Celeste LeCompte, Debbie Davis
Maps & Infographics: Celeste LeCompte, Luke Van Horn
Audio and Video: Elizabeth Case, Audrey Cerdan
Photos: Fred Gladdis, Davis Enterprise; Todd Hammond, Davis Enterprise; Steve Fisch for The Putah Creek Oral History Project (courtesy of praxisprojects.net); Variety of photos courtesy of Robin Kulakow, Peter Moyle, and the Putah Creek Council
Illustrations: Rita Okusako, Davis Enterprise
 
 

It's Time to Welcome Salmon Back to Putah Creek

Photo by Ken DavisIf this late fall is anything like the past two years, we hope to see migrating and spawning fall-run Chinook salmon in Putah Creek between mid-November and late-December. 

Central Valley fall-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) migrate upstream as adults from July through December and spawn from early October through late December. Because the Los Rios check dam is not removed until November 15, the Chinook salmon in Putah Creek don't start moving up the creek until mid-November. Most of the salmon observed in Putah Creek are hatchery strays, but there may be a small (and hopefully increasing) number of wild Putah Creek salmon returning each year. Because the overall population of wild fish is getting smaller and hatchery fish interbreed with them, Central Valley fall-run Chinook salmon are a Species of Concern under the federal Endangered Species Act.  

Below is some information about how to observe our salmon responsibly. Please realize the amazing journey these fish have taken and appreciate the opportunity to observe one of the marvels of Nature. 

Where to Go:  Please do not trespass on private property! The best places to try and see migrating salmon are from road overcrossings (Mace Blvd., Pedrick Rd., Railroad Ave.). Public access areas to try and observe spawners are: 

  • City of Davis South Fork Preserve
  • U.C. Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve
  • Winters Putah Creek Nature Park. A pair of salmon has spawned the past two years under the new Winters car bridge! 

Responsible Salmon Watching:  No fishing and no netting salmon. Putah Creek below Lake Solano is closed to fishing for salmon and wild steelhead trout. CDFW wardens will be patrolling on a regular basis. 

  • Please do not disturb spawning salmon. They need all the energy they have left to build a redd (gravel nest) and spawn (lay eggs and fertilize them)
  • Please do not wade in spawning areas
  • Keep dogs on leash - they may chase spawning salmon
  • Avoid quick movements that will startle the fish and waste their energy at this critical time in their life-cycle
  • Do not collect dead salmon or salmon parts. Only California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff or CDFW permit-holders may collect dead salmon
  • Report live salmon observations and locations of salmon carcasses to the Putah Creek Council office at (530) 795-3006 or karin@putahcreekcouncil.org
  • You can report poaching to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's 24-hour, seven days a week anonymous CalTIP hotline at 1-888-DFG-CALTIP (888-334-2258). Or, you can submit an anonymous tip to CDFW via text message by texting "CALTIP", followed by a space and your message, to 847411 (tip411).

How to Get a Good View:  Being able to see the salmon depends on the light and angle of the sun. 

  • Morning is a good time to observe
  • Observe spawning salmon from behind (downstream) so they don't see you -or- conceal yourself behind a tree, bush, or other "blind"
  • Polarized glasses are essential
  • To photograph or video salmon, use a telephoto lens with a polarizing filter. The sun must be at the right angle for the filter to work effectively. 

After the Spawn:  This is very important!

Do not wade or allow your dogs to wade in spawning areas (gravels) to prevent trampling the eggs and young salmon. The eggs will be in the redds for 30-40 days depending on the water temperature and the alevin (sac fry) stay in the gravel for another 4-6 weeks. 

 

Photo:  Pair of fall-run Chinook salmon spawning in an enhanced side channel in Putah Creek - (c) Ken Davis

 

Fall 2016

Four New Members Join the Putah Creek Council Board of Directors

This year the Putah Creek Council Board of Directors was blessed to have several applicants. In November, the board selected the following new members for one- and two-year terms: 

Alejandro Garcia Rojas, DVM
  
Dr. Garcia was raised in Chile and obtained his veterinary degree at the Universidad Mayor in Santiago. He then worked internationally with several non-profits, spending time in Easter Island and the Middle East. In 2007, while doing shelter work and pursuing an interest in emergency medicine, Dr. Garcia changed vocational direction, deciding he could better serve the veterinary community through a job with the Veterinary Information Network. He has worked closely with the VIN Foundation and other non-profits ever since. He lives in the small town of Winters with two little dogs and spends his free time pursuing his passion for wildlife and photography.

 

Earl Byron, PhD  

Earl is a recently retired aquatic ecologist who worked on topics of freshwater and marine fish and invertebrate bioassessment, water quality, and aquatic toxicology. He was in both private consulting and a research scientist at UC Davis. He wants to continue to contribute to our local environmental causes and in particular, the continuing restoration and preservation of the aquatic ecosystem and physical environment of Putah Creek and the Yolo Bypass.

 

Joanna Solins

Joanna Solins is currently a Ph.D. candidate in ecology at UC Davis, and her research focuses on riparian plant communities along creeks in the Sacramento area. Originally from Massachusetts, Joanna earned a B.A. in environmental studies from Vassar College and led educational programs for the New England Aquarium before relocating to San Francisco, where she worked in communications for the Coral Reef Alliance. Joanna shifted her focus to freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems for her graduate work, and is particularly interested in urban stream restoration. She has been a member of the Council's Stewardship Team for the past three years, and is excited to deepen her involvement with the organization by serving on the Board. 

 

Garth Lindley

Garth Lindley is the Director of Development for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden.  Garth came to U.C. Davis in October 2014 from West Virginia University, where he was the Associate Director of Development at the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. Previously, he was Associate Director of Development at the WVU Foundation. Garth is focusing on raising major gifts for the Arboretum and Public Garden’s programs and projects across the campus, as well as student leadership support through the Learning by Leading Program. Garth is an avid cyclist, runner, hiker, camper, and triathlete, and he is also passionate about the environment and sustainability. He founded a non-profit, Green Earth Event Services, to provide recycling, composting, and waste diversion services for athletic and other events in the Morgantown, West Virginia area.  He is enjoying exploring the natural wonders of California with his wife Angie and their six-year-old daughter, Ella.

 

 

Lower Putah Creek Restoration Planning

Putah Creek Council is leading an effort to engage the public in conversations, building on ongoing community planning efforts, to develop guiding principles for the selection and implementation of enhancement projects along the Lower Putah Creek.  (Read more background information here.)

Formation of a Design Team

Last year, an Advisory Committee was convened to provide guidance for the public outreach and engagement process of the Lower Putah Creek Restoration Planning project.  As a follow up to the work of the Advisory Committee, a Design Team was convened in April 2018 to work closely with the Putah Creek Council and to advise the development of public outreach events process, content, and messaging. The Advisory Committee is expected to meet 4 times throughout the public engagement process.

Design Team members include: 
  • Carol Scianna, City of Winters- Environmental Service Manager
  • Clancy McConnel, UC Davis-Student
  • Eric Larson, UC Davis- Geo-morphology/hydrology
  • Kent Anderson, Putah Creek Council- Executive Director
  • Manfred Kusch, Land Owner- LPCCC
  • Marc Hoshovsky, City of Davis – Advisory Committee
  • Mary Helen Seeger, Land Owner- LPCCC
  • Mark Grismer, UC Davis- Hydrology
  • Melanie Truan, UC Davis- Museum of Wildlife
  • Miguel Diaz, UC Davis- Student
  • Rich Marovich, Solano County Water Agency - stream Keeper
  • Stephen Rodriguez, CA Department of Fish and Wildlife –Grant Administrator
  • Steve Greco, UC Davis- Ecology
  • Tracie Reynolds, City of Davis - Open Space Program Manager

Public Engagement Process: The flow chart is a schematic of the public engagement process.

Purpose: Develop a list of guiding principles to inform the selection of enhancement projects that are scientifically sound and community supported.



Focus Groups:  

The purpose of the focus group meetings is to convene key stakeholders to solicit input on Lower Putah Creek beneficial uses and restoration opportunities.  Information gathered at the focus group meetings will inform the public events which are expected to be scheduled in the fall.  The four focus groups include:

  1. Land owners
  2. Non-landowners
  3. Science and technical perspectives
  4. Land managers

You can check back here regularly or sign up on the Lower Putah Creek Restoration Planning Email List to receive periodic email updates. 


Read the Grant Agreement.

Read more about the project's Goals, Objectives, and Tasks.

See the projects revised Schedule of Deliverables and Timeline

Learn about the project's Advisory Committee

Learn about the project's Science Review Team

View the Putah Creek Annotated Bibliography

Go to the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee Website

 

Lower Putah Creek Restoration Planning Project: Goals, Objectives, Tasks

PROJECT GOAL

The goal of this planning grant is to develop a prioritized list of habitat enhancement projects for Lower Putah Creek that are scientifically sound and community supported.

This planning project will develop conceptual habitat restoration plans and baseline geomorphic, hydrologic, soils, and biological assessments for 30 miles (34 total project sites) of Lower Putah Creek from Monticello Dam to the Yolo Bypass, including the 17 sites identified in the Program Environmental Impact Report for the Lower Putah Creek Restoration Project – Upper Reach Program (SCH# 2015022022). 

The project will evaluate comparative costs and benefits among the 34 sites and make the science behind the conceptual plans transparent. Stakeholders will be able to reach consensus about the proposals for future restoration projects to enhance channel form and function on 30 miles of Putah Creek impacted by gravel mining, channelization, vegetation removal for flood conveyance, and invasive weeds.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

  • Thirty-four conceptual geomorphic restoration plans including erosion control assessments and estimated construction costs
  • Complete baseline fish and wildlife assessments for each of the 34 sites
  • Graphic models of the science underpinning the conceptual habitat restoration plans
  • Facilitated public meetings (up to 24) to review the conceptual plans
  • Graphic notes from the public meetings to summarize stakeholder interests and input
  • Detailed engineering plans, specifications, bid documents and necessary permits for three priority project sites to be co-selected with CDFW

PROJECT TASKS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Task 1 – Project Administration – Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and Solano County Water Agency
  • Task 2 – Erosion and Channel Site Assessments, Planning and Conceptual Designs – Subcontractors Streamwise and U.C. Davis
  • Task 3 – Community Outreach and Engagement – Subcontractors Putah Creek Council, City of Davis, Dennis Bowker Consulting, and Listen Ink
  • Task 4 – Restoration Plans – Solano County Water Agency
  • Task  5 – Fish and Wildlife Assessments and Monitoring – U.C. Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology
  • Task 6 – Performance Measurement – Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee

 

Lower Putah Creek Watershed Restoration Planning

In fall, 2015, the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee applied for a highly-competitive Proposition 1 planning grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Watershed Restoration Grant Program. The grant proposal was awarded funding in January, 2016 and a contract for the project was in place by mid-September, 2016 (CDFW Watershed Restoration Grant Program Grant # P1696004). The project has a significant public outreach and engagement component so that future habitat enhancement projects on Lower Putah Creek are not only scienfically sound but understood and supported by stakeholders. 

PROJECT GOAL

The goal of this planning grant is to develop a prioritized list of habitat enhancement projects for Lower Putah Creek that are scientifically sound and community supported.

This planning project will develop conceptual habitat restoration plans and baseline geomorphic, hydrologic, soils, and biological assessments for 30 miles (34 total project sites) of Lower Putah Creek from Monticello Dam to the Yolo Bypass, including the 17 sites identified in the Program Environmental Impact Report for the Lower Putah Creek Restoration Project – Upper Reach Program (SCH# 2015022022).  

The project will evaluate comparative costs and benefits among the 34 sites and make the science behind the conceptual plans understandable and available to stakeholders and the public. Stakeholders and the public will be able to reach consensus about the proposals for future projects to enhance channel form and function and improve habitat on 30 miles of Putah Creek impacted by gravel mining, channelization, vegetation removal for flood conveyance, and invasive weeds. 

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

•    Thirty-four conceptual geomorphic restoration plans including erosion control assessments and estimated construction costs
•    Complete baseline fish and wildlife assessments for each of the 34 sites
•    Graphic models of the science underpinning the conceptual habitat restoration plans
•    Facilitated public meetings (up to 24) to review the conceptual plans
•    Graphic notes from the public meetings to summarize stakeholder interests and input
•    Detailed engineering plans, specifications, bid documents and necessary permits for three (3) priority project sites to be co-selected with CDFW 

PROJECT TASKS AND RESPONSIBLE PARTIES

Task 1 – Project Administration – Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and Solano County Water Agency
Task 2 – Erosion and Channel Site Assessments, Planning and Conceptual Designs – Subcontractors Streamwise and U.C. Davis 
Task 3 – Community Outreach and Engagement – Subcontractors Putah Creek Council, City of Davis, Dennis Bowker Consulting, and Listen-Ink
Task 4 – Restoration Plans – Solano County Water Agency 
Task 5 – Fish and Wildlife Assessments and Monitoring – U.C. Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology
Task 6 – Performance Measurement – Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee

To learn more, and sign up to receive email notifications about this planning project, go to our Lower Putah Creek Restoration Planning page. 

 

 

 

Opportunities for Environmental Education Volunteers

Every year, Putah Creek Council runs a variety of in-class and environmental education field trip programs for local schools in Yolo and Solano counties and we have opportunities for volunteers to learn about outdoor environmental education. Through programs like Adopt-a-Flat, WaterWays, and Salmon-in-the-Classroom, and Creek Science Investigations, we educate students about salmon, native plants, watersheds, and environmental stewardship. The field trips are often the first time many students have visited their local waterway. These programs reach hundreds of students, but only if we have enough volunteers to help us lead field trips. 
 
If you're interested in helping out, we are always looking for people to lead kids through field trip stations on weekdays during school hours. Stations range from nature walks to looking at aquatic invertebrates, helping students plant native plants, cleaning up trash, and fashioning ephemeral art from natural materials. Putah Creek Council staff covers responsibilities and necessary knowledge before the field trip, and we have supplies ready-to-go. We bring the kids, you bring the patience, guidance, and enthusiasm! 
 
Please contact Education Coordinator, Karin Young, if you're interested in assisting with field trips - karin@putahcreekcouncil.org or 530-795-3006. Thank you for helping us engage students in caring for their local nature nearby.
 

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee will give guidance on the public outreach and engagement portion of the Lower Putah Creek Restoration Planning project. The Advisory Committee will also ensure that the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee (LPCCC) and Putah Creek Council reach out to and engage the full spectrum of Putah Creek stakeholders. The goal is to arrive at a prioritized list of habitat enhancement projects for Lower Putah Creek that are scientifically sound and community-supported.

The Advisory Committee will meet approximately six times over the next 24-30 months with the project team to:

  • review the project’s web page, email listserv sign-up, surface mail and email communications, and print and social media,

  • recommend strategies to make the current scientific knowledge and information about Lower Putah Creek easily available and understandable and the cost-benefit analysis among restoration sites transparent,

  • help design and schedule public outreach events, including meetings, presentations, surveys, seminars, workshops, and field trips, and

  • review and offer input on the project selection criteria drafted by the Science Review Team (with stakeholder input).   

If you would like more information about the Advisory Committee or would like to be on the email list to receive meeting notices, contact Kent Anderson at: kent@putahcreekcouncil.org or 530-795-3006. 

ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBERS (project team highlighted in bold):

California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Grant Administrators Jason Roeh
  Steven Rodriguez
LPCCC Project Manager Rich Marovich, Putah Creek Streamkeeper
Outreach Coordinator Kent Anderson, Putah Creek Council Executive Director
Facilitator Dennis Bowker
Graphic Recorder Alison Kent, Listen-Ink
Interns Nicolle Herr
   
Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee Chair and UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve Manager Andrew Fulks
Curator, UC Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology Andy Engilis
City of Davis Open Space Program Manager Tracie Reynolds
Davis Resident Marc Hoshovsky
Winters Resident Michael McCoy
Putah Creek Council Board Members Valerie Whitworth and Joanna Solins
Putah Creek Trout Steve Karr
Yolo Audubon Conservation Chair Michael Perrone
Sierra Club Yolano Group Management Team Member Jim Cramer
California Native Plant Society, Sacramento Valley Chapter President John Hunter

ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETINGS

 

Science Review Team

The Science Review Team will help develop a scientifically sound set of criteria for ranking the 34 habitat enhancement projects. The team includes academics and professionals with decades of cumulative study and knowledge of Lower Putah Creek. They have expertise in fields such as fluvial geomorphology, hydrology, soils, revegetation and habitat enhancement, fish and wildlife, riparian ecology, landscape and human ecology, and aquatic biology.

The Science Review Team will help the project team communicate clearly and effectively to the public the current understanding of Lower Putah Creek’s fluvial geomorphology and ecology and what the potential is for improving and enhancing habitat along the creek corridor.  The goal is to have stakeholders understand the historical impacts to Lower Putah Creek (channelization, gravel mining, vegetation removal, dumping and invasive weeds, etc.) and the LPCCC's vision of rehabilitating and enhancing Putah Creek's channel, floodplain and riparian ecosystem processes and associated riparian habitats for diverse and healthy populations of native fish and wildlife. 

The Science Review Team will meet approximately six times over the next 24-30 months with the project team to

  • summarize the current scientific knowledge and information about the Lower Putah Creek watershed,

  • participate in public outreach events such as meetings, presentations, workshops, seminars, and field tours, and

  • develop a scientifically sound set of criteria for ranking 34 habitat enhancement projects.

If you would like more information about the Science Review Team or would like to be on the email list to receive meeting notices, contact Kent Anderson at: kent@putahcreekcouncil.org or 530-795-3006. 

SCIENCE REVIEW TEAM MEMBERS (project team in bold):

California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Grant Administrators Jason Roeh
  Steven Rodriguez
LPCCC Project Manager Rich Marovich, Putah Creek Streamkeeper
Outreach Coordinator Carrie Shaw, Putah Creek Council Executive Director
Facilitator Dennis Bowker
Graphic Recorder Alison Kent, Listen-Ink
Interns Nicolle Herr
Ecologist Ron Unger
Soils, Hydrology, Wetland Delineation, Permits Lisa Stallings
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Ruth Goodfield
Point Blue (Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture) Kristy Dybala
California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lorie Hammerli and Ryan Watanabe
Salmon and Aquatic Insects Ken Davis
U.C. Davis  
Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology - Wildlife Monitoring Melanie Truan
Habitat Connectivity Patrick Huber
Fluvial Geomorphology Eric Larsen
  Rocko Brown
Human Ecology/Landscape Ecology Steve Greco
Hydrology/Soils Mark Grismer
Fish Peter Moyle
Soils, Revegetation Victor (Vic) Claassen
Revegetation and Riparian/Wetland Restoration Craig Thomsen
   
   

SCIENCE REVIEW TEAM MEETINGS

 

Solins

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Giant reed (Arundo donax) is one of the most infamous streamside weeds. Imported from Asia and once planted as an ornamental (who doesn't love the look of bamboo?), it proved to be well-adapted to streams and flooding. Plant fragments washed downstream during a flood develop roots and quickly grow new plants, making it difficult and expensive to control. Fun Fact: Giant reed does not produce viable seed in North America and only spreads by sprouting from stem fragments and rhizomes (underground stems). 

Have you seen these iridescent beauties around? One hundred European Starlings were introduced in New York in 1890-1891 (thanks, Eugene Schieffelin!) and today they are one of the most widespread birds in North America. They are common along Putah Creek, but many folks don't like them - European Starlings compete with native cavity-nesting birds for nest spaces and can cause significant crop damage. But they're quite pretty, fun to watch, and earn some grudging respect for their tenacity! 

Did you have a red-eared slider as a pet when you were a kid? It is the most popular pet turtle in the United States, and is a popular pet world-wide. It gets its name from the small red stripe around its ears, and because it easily slides off logs into the water when startled. Red-eared sliders are native to the southern Great Lakes area, west to Indiana, and south into southern U.S. and northern Mexico. You may have seen them basking on logs or rocks along Putah Creek, as they are fairly common. Unfortunately they out-compete our native western pond turtles, which tend to be shy and reclusive, and reproduce much more slowly. Red-eared sliders make great pets, but please don't "liberate" your little visitor into our local streams or ponds.

Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima): not so heavenly for Putah Creek. So named for its ability to rapidly grow towards the heavens, this native of Asia also produces copious seeds and vigorously sucker sprouts. In short, tree-of-heaven is a formidable competitor to native vegetation. It can resemble the native California black walnut - both have similar looking pinnately compound leaves - but the leaflets of tree-of-heaven have a small lobe at the base and are foul-smelling when crushed. 

To cap off National Invasive Species Week, here’s one of our most formidable aquatic invasive species: New Zealand Mudsnails (NZMS). NZMS were first observed in Putah Creek in the fall of 2003 at Fishing Access #3 below Monticello Dam. They spread somewhat slowly at first, but with this winter’s high flows, they may have spread widely. NZMS disrupt the food chain by competing for algae with native benthic (bottom-dwelling) macro-invertebrates like caddisflies and mayflies – excellent fish food and bird food. Help prevent the spread of NZMS in Putah Creek by ALWAYS cleaning and thoroughly drying your boots before entering other areas of the creek or other waterways. Photo courtesy of Ken Davis.

 

 

Native Plant of the Month: Western Redbud

Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis)...you may know it by its rounded, heart-shaped leaves in the summer, or in autumn when the leaves turn blazing yellow, orange, and red, or perhaps you notice the red-brown dangling seed pods ornamenting bare branches in the winter. However, it is probably most recognizable right now in the springtime, when its namesake magenta flowers render redbud shrubs all over the California foothills the focal point of the landscape.

But don’t dismiss redbud as just another pretty plant. Its twigs are highly valued in Native American culture for their use in basketry; stalks are harvested in the winter for the red outer bark, or in spring for the white inner bark. Redbud flowers are edible to wildlife and humans (try them folded into a spring roll for added color). This medium-sized shrub is useful in habitat restoration for its ability to stabilize soils, re-sprout after fires, and tolerate drought. And of course, it is a prized centerpiece in home gardens.

Consider planting this attractive and useful native shrub in your garden, or just enjoy its beauty in the landscape throughout all seasons.

Introducing Our New Executive Director

Dear Putah Creek Council Community,

On behalf of Putah Creek Council’s Board of Directors, I’m delighted to announce that after searching widely and conducting several interviews, we have selected Kent Anderson as our new Executive Director.  Kent officially begins on April 3 and you can meet him at our annual Stewardship Potluck on April 19. 

A native Californian, Kent was raised in the Sacramento Valley, spending the majority of his childhood knee-deep in local waterways, dip net in one hand and guidebook in the other, or exploring the alpine meadows and granite peaks of the high Sierra. Passionate about flora and fauna from an early age, he spent the majority of his formative years in the outdoors, discovering the wonders of the natural world in a first-hand, place-based and ecologically focused manner, studying animal behaviors, eating wild-grown foods and interacting with the natural world as a component of it, rather than a temporary visitor. Raised on a tradition of farm-gardens and outdoor adventures, Kent has many fond memories of watering, harvesting and caring for his families strawberry patches, kitchen veggie garden and herb gardens, including frequent meals made up of freshly collected harvest.

After graduating from Christian Brothers High School with the Brother Ambrose Award for Outstanding Loyalty and Service, the only non-academic award conferred during graduation, Kent joined the California Department of Fish and Game to pursue his dream of becoming a Fish and Game Warden, working on the front lines of conservation, while also attending college full time. Post California State University, Chico, and with a plethora of professional experience from a variety of positions within the Dept. of Fish and Game, from wildlife management and enforcement to hatchery maintenance and interpretive services, Kent determined to change his focus; he realized that the greatest opportunity to change the world for the better was through education, not enforcement. This turning point truly came when career Fish and Game employees said to him, “You don’t have the right attitude to be a Game Warden; you aren’t mean enough.”

With this shift in focus, Kent moved entirely into the education realm, working for a variety of non-profit organizations, government agencies and entities and other groups, focusing on environmental education, animal conservation and natural resource management, and LGBT rights and education. Kent has worked over 11 years with the Boy Scouts of America, at summer camps throughout northern California, to thank for his passion for backpacking, camping and other outdoor exploration. He has worked for an assortment of other non-profits, from the STAR Ecostation Children’s Museum and Exotic Animal Rescue to the Maidu Interpretive Center and Native American Museum and Historic Site with the City of Roseville’s Parks and Recreation Department. He has served as Vice-Principal of Sierra Nevada Journeys Outdoor School and as the Education Director for Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding. He has also worked in after-school education, as a site director with the Boys and Girls Clubs, a pre-K science teacher, a curricula developer and more.

Kent most recently served as the Deputy Executive Director of San Francisco LGBT Pride and in an advisory role with a local Bay Area animal rescue, handling rescued native wildlife and educating the public, in addition to his work as Assistant Program with A Living Library. He has also recently started his own passion project, a non-profit exotic animal rescue and environmental education program, ECOS Animal Rescue Center (Eco ARC).

In his free time, Kent and his partner care for their two dogs and other critters and spend as much time as possible outdoors, exploring nature, traveling around northern California and being active. A life-long learner, Kent is passionate about education and takes continuing education courses, volunteers with education and animal welfare programs and spends what time he has left visiting museums and parks, reading and learning all he can.

Please join me, and the rest of Putah Creek Council’s Board of Directors, in welcoming Kent as our new Executive Director!

Sincerely,

Stephen McCord, Board Chair

 

 

Five Putah Creek Champions Honored

Putah Creek Council is pleased to announce our new Putah Creek Champion award, this year presented jointly to Bill Julian, Joe Krovoza, Brett Moffatt, Dan O’Hanlon, and Larry Bazel.  These men were the Council's volunteer leaders and the core pro bono legal team that represented the Council in the successful 1996 flow litigation and then negotiated the 2000 Putah Creek Accord. They worked as part of a coalition on behalf of Putah Creek Council, U.C. Davis, and the City of Davis. 

The "Accord" was the final negotiated legal agreement with Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) and has become the underpinning of the Council's habitat enhancement work for the past 16 years. It provides for Putah Creek’s instream flows for fish and wildlife, the establishment of a management body, the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee (LPCCC), restoration and monitoring funds, and landowner water rights. The Accord was needed to provide permanent protection to the creek, which had undergone years of inadequate flows and periods of complete drying in the late 1980s. 

The work of these honorees involved creating the complex pre-trial legal structure, the litigation, the trial, and continued, long-term negotiations that in total lasted 10 years. Bill was a founding legal architect and provided ongoing support and guidance throughout the entire process; Dan, Brett, and Larry carried the Council's legal case with assistance from Joe; and Joe and Dan continued with four years of  follow-up post-trial negotiations to reach the Accord. Their work gave renewed life to the creek and purpose to the Council. It provided the concrete basis of all that has followed with our stewardship and educational programs. We are happy to have the opportunity to recognize their service with the 2017 Putah Creek Champion Award.

Larry Bazel continues to practice environmental law in San Francisco. Bill Julian recently retired from work as a utility regulation specialist and legal counsel for the Public Utilities Commission. Joe Krovoza joined the lawsuit as an attorney for the City of Davis and became chair of the Council through the period of settlement of the Accord. He works for U.C San Francisco, was on the Davis City Council and was also Mayor of Davis.  

Brett Moffatt was one of the chief legal counsels throughout litigation and the Accord and today is a staff attorney for the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9, handling Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Act enforcement programs. Dan O'Hanlon was a main attorney during the trial leading to the Accord. He worked with U.C. Davis, the City of Davis, and the Council. He currently practices water resource and environmental law in Sacramento.

 

 

 

 

Give Where Your Heart Is - The Big Day of Giving Returns - Thursday May 4, 2017

 

The Big Day of Giving (BigDOG) returns in 2017 on Thursday, May 4th from midnight-to-midnight. BigDOG is an annual 24-hour online fundraising event that celebrates the spirit of philanthropy and supports the nonprofit community in our entire region. Since 2013, over $16,000,000 has been raised for deserving nonprofits in Yolo, Sacramento, El Dorado, and Placer counties.

Putah Creek Council participated in the Big Day of Giving the past two years and will participate again in 2017. We sincerely hope you will too! We raised $29,000 during the past two BigDOG events and the funds allowed us to expand our community stewardship and education programs. During the annual fall creek cleanup we were able to add a volunteer "hub" in Davis at the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve and organize teams to clean up the Reserve and also the City of Davis' South Fork Preserve. We also were able to continue our popular 4th grade curriculum, Adopt-a-Flat, and add a new Middle School unit called "Creek Science Investigations." Both programs include an outdoor environmental education field trip to Putah Creek. 

Our BigDOG goal this year is to raise at least $20,000 and engage 175 donors. We will have a $6,500+ "Board and Friends" match pool to instantly DOUBLE the first $6,500+ of BigDOG online donations. This is what makes BigDOG so special - the ability to instantly amplify your gift!  It is easy to make a BigDOG contribution - watch this video. 

NEW THIS YEAR! The new BigDOG donation platform will allow donors to schedule their gifts in advance of May 4th. You can schedule your donation to Putah Creek Council as early as this Friday, April 14th and your gift will process right after 12:00 midnight on May 4th. Visit the Putah Creek Council BigDOG donation page anytime between April 14 and May 3rd to schedule your gift. 

RETURNING THIS YEAR is the Golden 1 Credit Union Match. When Golden 1 members use their Golden 1 debit or credit card to make a BigDOG donation, the contribution will get an extra boost – Golden 1 will proportionately match up to $50,000 in members’ online gifts! 

ALSO RETURNING: Drawings for Rob Stone prints! Each $25 online BigDOG donation we receive on May 4th will be entered into drawings for two special, limited edition, signed, fine art Putah Creek prints by Rob Stone - Willow and Spring on Lake Solano - each one valued at $100. If you donate $25, you will receive one entry into the drawings; if you donate $50, two entries; $75, three; $100, four; and so on. The larger your BigDOG contribution, the better your chances of winning one of the prints!

HELP US spread the word about BigDOG 2017. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to contribute. Follow us on facebook and twitter and share our #BigDOG2017 posts and tweets. 

Thank you in advance for participating in the Big Day of Giving. If you have any questions about Putah Creek Council's programs, if you would like to contribute to our BigDOG "Board and Friends" match pool, or if you want to know more about the drawings for Rob Stone's posters, please feel free to call the Council's office at: 530-795-3006. 

Native Plant of the Month: Fremont Cottonwood

It's snowing again at Putah Creek! It's as close to snow as we're going to get, anyway, thanks to Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii). This tree is a magnificent component of the river forest ecosystem. Named for the silky, cottony hairs that allow its seeds to float on the wind, Fremont cottonwood dominates the forest canopy at heights of up to 100 feet. It is identifiable by its heart-shaped leaves, and is considered a keystone species in river corridors of the Central Valley, providing structure to the riparian forest, and habitat, shade, and food to abundant birds, mammals, and insects. 

Fremont cottonwood is well-adapted to flooding and disturbance in its home along waterways. Seeds readily establish in the waterlogged soils as floodwaters recede, and a branch broken off during a flood can send out roots and grow a new tree downstream. We take advantage of this useful characteristic in habitat restoration by plunging branches, or "poles," from mature cottonwoods into riverbanks to easily grow new trees. This winter's record rains and flooding may lead to a bumper crop of cottonwoods along Putah Creek - we'll be keeping a lookout for them.
 
And they are seeding right now! Go out this month and enjoy the "snow" along Putah Creek.
 
 
 
 

One Creek | Putah Creek Restoration Internships

Putah Creek Council offers summer internships to community members ages 16 and older. Interns in the program work closely with Putah Creek Council staff and interns working at the U.C. Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve (UCD) and with Solano County Water Agency (SCWA). They also work with, and learn from, our restoration partners who are experts in the fields of habitat restoration, native plant landscaping, outdoor recreation management, native plant propagation, and nursery management.

Internships are a valuable way to gain job skills, learn about a profession, receive mentorship, and be part of an important local community effort. Interns who successfully complete their internship receive a stipend (prorated - up to $600) and letter of recommendation from Putah Creek Council, which can be an asset for college and job applications.

The 2019 Summer Intern schedule is 18 June - 14 August; on Tuesdays, 8:30-11:30 AM at the Putah Creek Native Plant Nursery in South Davis, and on Wednesdays, 8:30–11:30 AM at various restoration sites in Yolo and Solano Counties. Interns will work with Putah Creek Council partners under the supervision of Putah Creek Council staff. There will be no work days scheduled on July 16th or 17th.

In the nursery, interns will learn native plant identification, propagation, and other aspects of nursery operations. In the field, interns will learn how to run, maintain, and repair drip irrigation, care for field-planted native vegetation, build and maintain trails, and manage other public recreation resources.

  • Training will be provided. 
  • Interns must provide their own transportation. Carpools may be available.
  • Interns must be physically fit, able to lift twenty-five pounds, able to walk and stand on uneven ground, and willing to work in an outdoor setting without access to air conditioning during the months of June-August.
  • Interns will be expected to participate in all events; 8 nursery events on Tuesday mornings, and 8 restoration events on Wednesday mornings. 

If you are interested in learning more, please email Brian Keeley, Putah Creek Council Stewardship Program Manager, at brian@putahcreekcouncil.org, or call: 530-795-3006.

To view a great "blast from our past" article about our 2013 summer interns, click here.

 

 

Public Workshops and Walks

Native Plant of the Month: Showy Milkweed

Milkweeds are native to all of California, although today they are mostly found in northern California; from the coast into the Sierra, from wetland riparian habitats to pine and mixed conifer forests. They can be found as far east as Texas, and north into the Dakotas and the Great Lakes region, from sea level to 6,000 feet of elevation.

However, the stems and leaves exude milky latex sap when cut (hence their common name), which is mildly toxic. They can cause nausea and vomiting in low doses.  Milkweeds plants are toxic to livestock. 

If you are lucky enough to see a monarch butterfly, and you follow its fluttery path for a while, you may see it alight on the showy milkweed plant (Asclepias speciosa).  You will know this plant by its unmistakably large, showy, thick, greyish, furry leaves, as well as its conspicuous rose-purple flowers which grow in loose clusters at the top of their beefy stems.  Milkweeds are the “host plant” of monarch butterflies. That means that the milkweed is the only host for monarch larvae (caterpillars), and an important nectar source for adult monarch butteries. 

But milkweed plants are also an important pollinator plant for other butterfly species including checkerspots, painted ladies, swallowtails, viceroy and hairstreaks, as well as European honeybees and native bees, hummingbirds, many species of beetles, and other pollinator insects.  Large, dense clumps of milkweed plants will sustain many voracious monarch caterpillars.  The monarch butterflies get chemicals from the milkweed plants that make them distasteful to potential predators.

Early Californians used milkweed plants for fiber, food, cordage and even chewing gum.  Different parts of the plant were used to heal sores and cuts, and cure warts and ringworms.

Showy milkweeds make great restoration plants because they are perennial, can grow from 2 to 5 feet tall, and have tough extensive root systems with deep tap roots. They are drought tolerant, although they can tolerate moist soils as well.  They are a good species for stabilizing and restoring disturbed sites as they have minimal nutrient requirements.  They die back to the ground in the winter, and remerge in spring.

Consider planting this important pollinator plant in your garden.  It will tolerate many soils types, will grow in full or nearly full sun, will come back year after year.  It will add colorful blooms to your landscape from May to September, and the leaves add contrasting color, shape and texture to your existing garden foliage.  If you are lucky, or have a dense enough clump of milkweeds, a monarch may come visit your garden.

 

Plant of the Month: Blue Elderberry

What is that big shrubby plant, that puts out big clusters of droopy white flowers in late spring, that turn into deep blue clusters of powder-coated berries in the summer?  Is it edible? Is it native to California? Can you really make wine out of it?

Blue Elderberry  (Sambucus nigra, ssp. caerulea) also known as Mexican Elderberry, is a deciduous shrub typically found along streams, irrigation ditches and other riparian corridors.  Its natural range is Oregon to Baja, where it is often found happily growing with toyon, live oak, and white flowering gooseberry. It also grows in chaparral, sage scrub, grassland and wetland-riparian habitats.  It has a cousin found closer to the coast, known as Red Elderberry.

Blue Elderberry provides great value to wildlife. It attracts many bird species, and is one of the most important sources of berries for birds in California.  It provides cover for many small mammals, birds and insects.  It is deer resistant, and attracts a variety of butterfly and bee species. It also is the host plant for the humble and unassuming Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle.  This beetle’s current California Fish & Wildlife Service status is “threatened” due to loss of habitat resulting from conversion of land to agriculture, grazing, and levee construction; competition from non-native species; and loss of land to development for recreational, industrial and urban purposes. The adult beetles eat elderberry leaves and flowers, and the larvae eat the pithy inside of the elderberry stem, where they live for part of their lives. Because of the “threatened” status of the beetle, and the fact that the blue elderberry shrub is its host plant (its habitat, so to speak), the elderberry shrub is protected from being disturbed, destroyed, removed, and even trimmed, if the branches are larger than 1 inch diameter,  since the beetle larvae could potentially be living inside branches of that size or larger.

Early Californians used blue elderberries as a food source, and as a natural remedy to benefit the immune system.  Branches were favored for arrow shafts as they grow straight and long, and were also bored out to make flutes and whistles.

The entire elderberry plant, including the berries, is mildly toxic, and some people will get an unpleasant reaction to eating even small quantities of fresh berries. However, most people find fresh blossoms and berries are edible and delicious in small quantities, and the berries can be used in pancakes, fritters, jellies, syrups, and yes, even wine.  Cooking or drying the blossoms and berries destroys the toxins making them safer to eat for some of those who experience gastrointestinal issues from eating the berries. However, this is not so with the stems, and the fruit of the coastal cousin, red elderberry, which is always toxic.

Blue Elderberry is a great restoration plant because it is tough, easy to grow, and can handle a variety of different soil moisture levels. Once it is established it can grow well in dry soils, although it will become summer deciduous or semi-deciduous (it will lose its leave in the summer, to preserve moisture and nutrients), and will turn green again with early winter rains. It grows rapidly, and can grow from a 1 gallon container to a 15 foot tall tree in only three years, if conditions are right.  It will grow to a maximum height of 30 feet, and will tolerate some shade.

Enjoy this multi-use shrub in a section of your yard where it will not be disturbed, and where it can grow to its full size (30 feet) without needing to be trimmed or moved.

Native Plant of the Month

Got a suggestion for the plant of the month? Send it our way! email info (at) putahcreekcouncil.org

December 2019: Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)

November 2019: Oak Galls

October 2019: Going Ballistic- Ballistochory

September 2019: The Wind and the Wings- Anemochory

August 2019: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

July 2019: Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii)

June 2019: Narrow Leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis)

May 2019: Sticky Monkey-Flower, Mimulus aurantiacus

April 2019: California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica

March  2019: Gooddings Willow, Salix gooddingii

February 2019: White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia

January 2019: Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia

December 2018: American Dogwood, Cornus sericea

November 2018: Bigleaf Maple, Acer macrophyllum

October 2018: Wild Licorice, Glycyrrhiza lepidota

September 2018: Mugwort, Artemisia douglassiana

August 2018: Western Goldenrod, Euthamia occidentalis

July 2018: Pacific Aster, Symphyotrichum chilense

June 2018: Baltic Rush, Juncus balticus

April 2018: Red Willow, Salix laevigata

March 2018: California Buckeye, Aesculus californica

February 2018: Santa Barbara Sedge, Carex barbarae

January 2018: Foothill Pine, Pinus sabiniana

December 2017: Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis

November 2017: Oaks, or Quercus

September 2017: California Wild Rose, Rosa californica

August 2017: California Wild Grape, Vitis californica

July 2017: Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra spp. caerulea

June 2017: Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa

May 2017: Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii

April 2017: Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis

Plant of the Month - California Wild Grape

The California wild grape is native to Southern Oregon and California, and can be found growing along creeks, streams, springs and floodplains in the Coast Ranges, the Central Valley and Sierra foothills below 3,200 feet of elevation. California grape is a deciduous vine (it dies back in the winter). It can climb up shrubs and trees, or form dense leafy mats on the ground, usually in shady areas close to a source of water.

Its small fragrant flowers, which emerged in May and June, are forming purplish clusters of grapes in August and September. The fruits are a critical late summer and fall staple for many animal species including coyote, opossum, skunk, wood ducks, California quail, cedar waxwing, and many other species of birds. It also provides important cover and forage for black-tailed deer as well as domesticated foragers such as cattle, sheep. Leaves and fruits are also edible to humans. 

The fruit is sweet and juicy (although not as quite sweet as cultivated table grapes), and contain seeds. Wild grapes can be eaten raw, or made into jellies, jams, and pies. Leaves can be used as a wrap for other foods, and steamed (think Greek dolmas filled with spiced rice or ground meat). Early Californians ate the fruit, soaked the leaves in water to create a poultice for wounds, and used stems and roots in basketry, cordage and thread.

California wild grape is also of great importance to the commercial wine industry. Nearly all commercial wine grapes grown throughout the world are grafted onto the rootstock of California wild grape, which is resistant to the grape phylloxera aphids which nearly wiped out the European wine grape, Vitis vinifera, in the late 1800s.

California grape plants makes great restoration or backyard plants as they propagate easily from cuttings or fresh seeds. In restoration projects, California grape grows quickly and provides habitat in moist areas.  In your yard, pick a spot that gets ample water, drains well, and preferably gets some shade.  The grape vines will happily grow up existing tree, to add dimension to your landscape, or can be trained up trellises.

In Search of a Truck

Friends,

Our planting van - which many of you know and love as much as we do - has reached the end of its serviceable life. We're in the market for a replacement vehicle, and would appreciate any leads you can pass along. Here's what we're looking for:

  • Pickup truck with 4WD
  • Rear seats
  • In safe, functional working order
  • Lower mileage (under 100,000)
  • Frame tow hitch
  • Uses unleaded fuel

We have a grant to use for the purchase of a replacement vehicle, but it will not cover the full cost. We are working to find a local dealer and reach a partnership agreement, but if you know if any vehicles that match our description, please let us know. You can email info@putahcreekcouncil.org or call our office at 530-795-3006.

And if you'd like to help us fund a truck, please donate here

Native Plant of the Month: California Wild Rose

California wild rose (Rosa californica) is a deciduous shrub that can be found along riparian (close to streams) areas below 6,000 feet of elevation. Its not-very-showy flowers are pale lavender or pink, and have only 5 petals, unlike the multi-petaled multi-colored cultivars. The flowers appear from May to November and attract many different kinds of pollinator insects, which makes the wild rose a good hedgerow or wildlife corridor plant. The plant grows in thickets and provides great habitat for birds and other animals.  

The rose hips, when fully mature, can be eaten raw, or can be dried and steeped to make a tasty winter tea that is high in vitamin C. The petals of the flower are also edible. Try adding them to salads!  Early Californians also used wild rose stems in basketry.

California wild rose is an excellent restoration plant where there is ample water.  Because of the prickly stems and tendency to form thickets over time, thewild rose makes a good screen or barrier plant.  It is carefree, pretty, and tolerates alkali soils, which are common throughout the central valley and California foothills.  Wild rose is easy to propagate.  It can be grown from seed, or the rhizomes (roots) of the rose can be dug up and transplanted.  Wild rose is also an excellent addition to home gardens where it has enough space.  It can be an effective screen or barrier plant, it attracts pollinators, which benefits other plants in your garden, and is a great source of rose hips.  To your health! 

Native Plant Family of the Month: Salvias, or Sage Family

Activity of the Month: Plant!  Are you in the process of taking out your lawn?  Looking for more drought tolerant plants? or for ways to attract local pollinator birds and insects to your garden?  Fall is the time to put new plants in the ground, transplant plants, or replace plants that didn’t make it through the summer. Due to our Mediterranean climate, we can expect relatively “mild” (i.e. rarely snow, occasional frosts) mostly wet winters, the perfect environment to give new plants the best possible start.  With that in mind, we are highlighting the Salvia or Sage family this month, and many varieties of the sage family are native or naturalized to this area.  If you want to learn more about native sage plants, and the benefits they provide, keep reading!

Although there is some debate regarding which, if any sages are native to this watershed, we grow a few varieties in the native plant nursery, and use them in restoration and bank stabilization projects. Sages native to California that do well in this region include black sage (Salvia mellifera), hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea), purple sage (Salvia leucophylla), blue or Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii) and white pitcher sage (Lepechinia calycina).  Black sage is considered a “keystone species,” in that it is a species on which many other species, in its coastal sage community, depend. Its spiky flowers are pretty and vibrant.  It is also adapted to grow in sandstone, granite and serpentinite soils!  Cleveland sage is turning to seed this time of year, and the Dr. Seuss-like seed pods are beautiful. White pitcher sage is native to the central valley and Sierra foothills and is also endemic to California (it is native to this region only). Early Californians used an extract from the white pitcher sage leaves to treat fever and headaches.  The flowers of the white pitcher sage and all other sages are an important food source for butterflies and hummingbirds, and the seeds are an important food for quail and other birds. 

Sage plants are evergreen and perennial, and so do not need to be replanted each year.  They grow from two (2) to eight (8) feet tall, depending on the variety.  The flowers are highly aromatic and attract a variety of birds and insects. All sage species, like other species in the mint family (Lamiaceae) have square stems, and the entire plant is covered with hairs which makes them feel soft to the touch. Most sages prefer drier mixed chaparral habitats, dry shaded, well-drained soil, and once established, do not like much water. In nature, they like to grow under oak trees or other foliage, so look for a partly shady spot in your yard.

Sages are easy to care for, attract local pollinator insects, are drought tolerant, and prefer minimal water (once a month) once established.  Many sage varieties bloom from spring through the summer and fall, another advantage to using them in restoration projects and in your yard. The black sage blooms through the winter as well, providing critical food to bees and other insects, when most other plants are dormant.

There are many opportunities to purchase native (and other drought tolerant) plants in the next month, including many local seasonal sales (check our Facebook page for one coming up in the next week). Some local nurseries also carry native plants. I hope you can get outside and enjoy the fall cooler weather, and do some planting. 

Board of Directors

Stephen McCord – Chair

I first came to Davis in 1993 as a graduate student after having worked or traveled around five continents. After completing my doctoral studies, I again left the country only to arrive right back in Davis in 2000, finally ready to go native. My interactions with PCC began in the early 2000’s while I was President of another local nonprofit that organized riparian plantings and trash cleanup events. These days my consulting business provides water quality engineering services throughout the region, making numerous contacts and experiences that align with PCC’s mission. I have served on the board since 2011.

I love being outdoors, especially around water. I have experienced the entire length of Putah Creek while fishing, photographing, birdwatching, removing trash, planting, and even joining conference calls. As a board member, I appreciate the opportunity to serve with both white collars (in board meetings) and blue ones (stewardship events).

In my spare time, I enjoy playing many sports, backpacking or otherwise traveling, and coaching, mentoring and advising students. I live in Davis with my wife Mona and daughter Asia.

 

Melissa Thorme – Vice Chair

 

I have been in the Davis area since I came here for law school and a Master’s degree at UC Davis in the 1980s. As an environmental lawyer and previous volunteer for other organizations such as the Sierra Club and the Riparian Improvement Organization (RIO), I have a depth of experience and knowledge that supplements the other experiences of other Putah Creek Council Board members.

I have long been an advocate for Putah Creek, organizing litter cleanups and installing interpretive signage in the 1990s along the Creek for RIO. I appreciated the work PCC did in the way of advocacy, habitat restoration, and environmental education and wanted to be a part of it. I assist PCC with my head, hands and heart, by proposing changes to policies, volunteering at events, and enjoying the natural beauty of Putah Creek.

Besides being a PCC Board member, I write novels, ride my horse, train and shows my two German Shepherds, and works as a water quality lawyer at the law firm of Downey Brand LLP in Sacramento.

 

Turid Reid – Treasurer

 

Davis had been my home since 1978, but it was only after we were charmed in the mid 80’s by a property with Putah Creek as the southern boundary that this waterway became personal to me. I met Susan Sanders, one of the original founders of Putah Creek Council when we worked together on the Homestake Technical Review panel, and she encouraged me to become involved in this new venture. Since I had worked for many years on scientific aspects of water rights, and also on the effects of water quality on the biota, I enthusiastically agreed to help her.

Having Putah Creek in our backyard, and having always been enthusiastic about outdoor adventures, this waterway has provided my family and friends with many opportunities to explore the river, and it’s riparian flora and fauna.
Much of the work that Putah Creek Council does ensures that this local jewel is preserved and enhanced for future generations, and I want to be able to contribute to that.

I came to Davis via an upbringing in Zambia and early adulthood in New Zealand. I am an enthusiastic hiker and camper, will get out on the water in anything that floats, jump at any opportunity for foreign travel, and enjoy gardening and photography. When possible, I try to get my now far-flung family together. Those two small boys and two little girls who played in Putah Creek long ago cherish those childhood memories.

 

Earl Byron – Secretary

 

I have been interested in aquatic science throughout my education and career; with a BA in marine biology from UCSB and doctorate in aquatic ecology and limnology from U of Colorado, Boulder, to a career in water quality and aquatic ecology at UC Davis and in consulting.  These interests naturally fit with volunteer service to a local, aquatic habitat-focused nonprofit such as PCC.

My love of “all things aquatic” naturally translates into supporting the stewardship and education missions of Putah Creek Council. I have led student explorations of marsh, stream, and tidepool habitats locally and in southern California as part of volunteer activities, both in terms of his children’s activities and now, with PCC and other environmental-focused organizations.  I have been involved with annual creek cleanups for years. I believe that environmental education and community-involved stewardship are vital to making a positive difference in our lives and that of the planet.

I am mostly retired from active consulting and enjoy time with family and travel, especially with any outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and canoe or kayaking.  As an unrelated passion, I love singing in a local doo-wop and oldies a cappella group, performing at Davis and Winters venues.

 

Valerie Whitworth 

 

valerie_0.jpgI am a small-time farmer who has worked with Putah Creek Council since its inception. I first came to the Central Valley as a Regents Scholar Freshman in 1963 after living on the California Coast most of her life. Born in England, I was unprepared for the dry heat of the Central Valley and naturally gravitated to the nearest water. Putah Creek gave me both water and wonderful plant and wildlife, including amazing birds, coyotes, foxes, otter, mink, and beaver as well as cougar prints on her land by the creek.  I was responsible for obtaining the funds for the first creek engineering project located on Dry Creek.

To me, Putah Creek Council epitomizes the selfless giving of time and energy to a landscape that is invaluable. The values that I hold dearest are held as goals by Putah Creek Council. To be part of a group of people focused on protecting and defending a landscape in California that is under attack by development, carelessness, neglect and changes in climate is a privilege. To be sure that future generations can seek and find such a landscape keeps me working to protect Putah Creek.

Traveling is a passion for me and my husband, the botanist Michael Barbour, and we have had adventures in botany worldwide. I love being a grandmother and spend as much time as I can with my grand daughter, Grace, on the creek. I enjoy writing, both grants and creatively. I am a reader, but also a person who enjoys working and playing outdoors, playing sports, singing, dancing, and plein aire painting.

 

Steve Culberson

 

I moved to Davis in 1990 to attend graduate school after several years living abroad serving in the U.S. Peace Corps. I am currently the Lead Scientist with the Interagency Ecological Program, a nine-agency governmental collaborative science program for collecting and analyzing aquatic habitat data within the San Francisco Estuary.

I hold a Ph.D. in Ecology, and an M.S. in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis, following a B.A. in Biology from Oberlin College in Ohio. I have previously worked for the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Away from work I can be found canoeing, relaxing at home with his wife Mary, or attempting to run the occasional 10K race in and around Davis and the Sacramento area.

 

 

 

Clancy McConnell

 

clancymcconnell.jpgClancy hails from the small gold country town of Sonora, in the Sierra Nevada foothills southeast of Davis. His family started him in the outdoors young, recreating in the expansive mountainous playground by backpacking, kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing, camping, and exploring local culture. He also began competitive outdoor sports there, which he continues to this day. From 2008 through 2016, he worked year-round for his family’s excavation business, where his father taught him both a construction skillset and valuable lessons about how construction can be performed to preserve—not exploit—natural resources. As one component of this practice, they began restoring meadows, roads, and severe burn areas in the Stanislaus National Forest, improving water storage, preventing erosion, and restoring habitat. Part of this work involved putting in substantial construction volunteer hours with the local environmental resource non-profit, which showed him just how valuable an effective non-profit is to the community.

These activities and the land ethic instilled in him by his parents inspired him to attend UC Davis, where he has studied for over 6 years. In spring, 2016, he received his Bachelor in Environmental Science and in fall, 2018, he received his Master in Ecology. Now, as a PhD student in Geography, he aims to understand how the altered hydrology of Putah Creek, a unique Central Valley waterway, has affected its riparian vegetation and what types of vegetation and floodplain restoration are possible under future environmental conditions. As a graduate teaching assistant, he is passionate about teaching undergraduate students in various classes, including ecology, environmental design, geographic information systems, biogeochemistry, music, and cultural studies.

Aside from his experience in restoration and scientific monitoring, Clancy brings to the board of directors an enthusiasm for education, volunteer work, and natural resource advocacy. He enjoys Putah Creek by training in the public reserves and parks, cycling and playing music along the creek with friends, teaching outdoor labs in the UC Davis reserve and arboretum, and analyzing historic air photos from decades past.

 

Ann Ryan Solomon

 

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Ann Ryan Solomon is an advancement and strategic communications professional with over 25 years of experience in health care, business and higher education.  A graduate of Stephens College and the University of Missouri, Ann is also an award-winning writer and editor.  She and her husband Rick live in Winters, and Ann is a director of development at UC Davis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen McCaffrey

 

Stephen McCaffrey.jpg

Professor Stephen C. McCaffrey is Carol Olson Endowed Professor of International Law at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.  He was the UN International Law Commission's special rapporteur on international watercourses, was the 2017 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate and received the 2018 Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy. He has served as counsel to States in cases before the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration and has published widely in the field of international water and environemntal la

Steve's passion for water and aquatic ecosystems led him to become involved in these activities.  He believes that the PCC's mission aligns perfectly with these interests and hopes to bring to bear his experience in dealing with diverse actors for the benefit of the community served by the PCC.

Steve and his wife Susan, sometimes accompanied by their four children and their families, visit their small cabin in Alaska in the summers and enjoy being immersed in nature there.  As a boy scout in the 1950s, Steve camped with his troop on Putah Creek at a point near the hamlet of Monticello, both now under many feet of water.

Staff

Kent Anderson, Executive Director
 
Brian Keeley, Stewardship Program Manager
 
Nina L., Program Assistant
 
Hannah Snyder, Stewardship Program Assistant
 
Jared Fond, Administrative Assistant

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Newsletters

We publish a print newsletter for Putah Creek Council members at the end of each year. Click on the links below to read our past newsletters.  

Fall 2016

Fall 2015

Fall 2014

Fall 2013

Public Talks and Tours

CreekSpeak Speaker Series

Putah Creek Council runs an annual 6-month series of public talks about the history, culture, and nature of our region called CreekSpeak! 

Each year we educate hundreds of people about important creek issues. Past topics have included aquatic insects, native fish, farming in the watershed, mercury in Putah Creek, local wildlife, the history of the region, and more.

The 2019 CreekSpeak lineup includes:

If you would like to suggest a talk for an upcoming series, please contact us!

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Watershed Wonders

Spawning Salmon in Putah Creek: Saturday, November 18, 2017

Nature's Theater for Kids: Explore Putah Creek: October 2017

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Past walks, talks, and workshops

Geology walk, April 2004

Beaver Management, February 2004

Bird Box Building, 2003

 

 

K-12 Environmental Education and Field Trips

Students gather around a dish tub to examine aquatic invertebrates.

We work in K-8 classrooms to provide hands-on environmental education experiences. Click the links below to learn about different programs we are offering. Contact Karin Young at karin (at) putahcreekcouncil.org for more information about how to get your students involved.

Adopt-a-Flat Program

Salmon in the Classroom Program

Putah Creek Club

WaterWays

CSI: Creek Science Investigations

Other Education Programs

Plants and Animals of Putah Creek

Each month, we feature a different plant species that resides in the Putah Creek watershed. Read all about our favorite plants here: Native Plant of the Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read about some of the invasive plants and animals that infest the Putah-Cache watershed: Invasive Species Awareness

 

 

 

 

Every fall, to great fanfare, migrating Chinook salmon return to Putah Creek to spawn. We celebrate the return of salmon at the Salmon Festival and then we watch for them along the creek in the months of November and December. Click the following link to learn more about salmon and how to view them responsibly during spawning season: Salmon Spawning in Putah Creek.

 

 

Learn about cavity-nesting birds on Putah Creek at this blog published by the UC Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology: Songbird Nestbox Project 

 

 

 

Leadership Opportunities

 

Stewardship Team Leaders

This special team helps us run all hands-on stewardship events. They get a full day of naturalist training (generally in October), get a behind-the-scenes look at how restoration planning happens, and are THE heart and soul of Putah Creek Council. If you're interested in applying to the Stewardship Team, contact Amy Williams (amy AT putahcreekcouncil.org). Read more about the Stewardship Team....

 

 

                                                             

Education Team

This energetic group of volunteers helps us lead environmental education field trips for local elementary- and middle-school students. They go through a half day of training covering general background information, and receive specialized training for each type of field trip we lead. Education Team members help make a difference in students' lives by guiding them in nature explorations, scientific inquiry, and forming a deeper connection with Putah Creek. If you're interested in applying to join the Education Team, contact Karin Young (karin@putahcreekcouncil.org). Read more about the Education Team..

 

 

Volunteer Docents

The volunteer Docent teams at Lake Solano Park (Winters) and South Fork Preserve (Davis) lead public programs and help park visitors learn about the magic of Putah Creek. After completing training, the Docent teams participate in interpretive hikes, canoe tours, campfire programs, and other park projects. Use the links above to learn more about the Docent Programs at each site.

 

 

 

One Creek | Putah Creek Summer Restoration Internships

Putah Creek Council offers summer internships to community members ages 16 and older. Interns in the program work with, and learn from, our restoration partners who are experts in the fields of habitat restoration, native plant landscaping, outdoor recreation management, native plant propagation, and nursery management. Learn more at this link.

The Putah Creek Accord

The Accord - It Contains Six Elements From Fish to Water Rights

In 1999 true movement toward settlement began and approximately a year later the accord was in place. Provisions to make the settlement "global" were added—global meaning provisions to prevent future legal wrangling, ensure restoration and set a process regarding landowner water rights.

The accord is a wonderful resolution. It is fully supported by the best studies of what the creek's environment requires. The main elements are:

1. Resident Native Fish Flows. The flows for resident native fish include important spring spawning and rearing components and guarantee a continuous flow to the Yolo Bypass.

2. Anadromous Fish Flows. Flows for ocean-run steelhead and salmon were not granted by Judge Park's 1996 ruling. As the post-trial evidence mounted that these wondrous fish do return to Putah Creek, the Council redoubled its effort for them. We developed flows that will attract and support salmon and steelhead in the creek, and these were incorporated into the accord.

3. Schedule for Extended Droughts. The settlement adds a drought schedule that could take effect in up to 25 percent of water years. This is good for Solano, and good for the creek. It is fair to share in cutbacks when they must occur. From the Council's perspective, it is better to have a schedule set now than to find ourselves in court later arguing about drought reductions. Our experts worked with Solano to set a schedule that will protect the native fish and stress the system in ways similar to what may have occurred pre-development.

4. New Forum for Management. The settlement creates the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee, composed of five Yolo County and five Solano County representatives. The Council, City of Davis and UC Davis are the permanent core members for the Yolo side. The Coordinating Committee will oversee implementation of the settlement, hire a permanent streamkeeper, and coordinate creek studies and restoration.

5. Restoration and Monitoring Funds. The settlement provides a onetime $250,000 grant for preservation and enhancement of the natural values of Putah Creek, and $160,000 per year indexed for inflation for fish and wildlife monitoring and the streamkeeper program.

6. Landowner Water Rights. The settlement will change Solano's relations with downstream creek-side landowners who hold water rights. Before the 1996 court ruling, Solano was only required to make releases from the diversion dam. Any need on the part of Solano to accommodate downstream landowners more or less ended at that point. However, the establishment of downstream flow compliance points (at I-80 and the Bypass) to protect the creek's environment will mean there is more water year-round for creek-side landowners to pump, and thus the legal limits of their diversions will be more closely monitored. Intricate measures were adopted to ensure that if Solano-landowner disputes do occur, and steps are taken to resolve the disputes, Solano water costs caused by landowner pumping will be capped.

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The Salmon are Coming!

Fall is upon us and wherever you live, you are likely to come across news or information about the return of the salmon! Pacific salmon have already begun their long and arduous journey inland and are slowly making their way past the many stream-based obstacles, natural and man-made, in pursuit of their ancestral spawning grounds. Salmon are anadromous, which means that they must migrate upstream from saltwater to spawn, or reproduce, in freshwater.

To begin their journey, salmon must prepare to transition from the salty water of the Pacific Ocean to the freshwater of California’s streams and tributaries, a complex biological process preceded by a change in water temperature and flow from the rivers used for this migration. Depending on the river, salmon may travel a few hundred yards or many miles to reach their spawning grounds.

Salmon spawning requires a very specific set of circumstances, including cool, rapidly flowing and oxygen-rich water, loose gravel of the right size, bankside cover and limited disturbance. Once the female salmon has identified the ideal location, she will use pulses of water from her powerful tail to “excavate” patches of gravel, known as redds, where she will deposit her eggs. The process is followed closely by fertilization of the eggs by the male salmon, after which the female will move upstream to begin the process once again. The loosened gravel provides a series of small crevasses in which the eggs can settle while still receiving oxygen from the cool, rapidly flowing stream, and cover for the young, known as alevin, when they emerge from the eggs in the spring. Salmon may lay between 2000 and 6000 eggs, of which only 5% or fewer will survive to adulthood. Once spawning has taken place, adult salmon from most species will die, providing a tremendous influx of nutrients to the streams where they spawn and feeding numerous other riparian species, from birds and mammals to bacteria and aquatic invertebrates.

The fall is a great time to view the epic salmon journey while visiting local waterways and to see first-hand the process of migration, spawning and the returning of resources to the nutrient cycle through decomposition. This is also prime-time to see other riparian species in their fall activities. Be sure to bring your camera and to “tread lightly” while enjoying the conclusion of the epic salmon migration, wherever you might be!

Salmon and Wildlife Viewing Recommendations

  • Give salmon and other wildlife plenty of space. Salmon are most vulnerable during spawning season and may feel threatened if viewed too closely. Bring binoculars and viewing equipment and be sure to stay back from spawning salmon to encourage natural behavior.

  • Stay out of the streams. Walking through streams can damage redds, compress gravel, crush eggs or reduce oxygen flow over the eggs.

  • Take only pictures. Removing material from activate nesting or feeding sites may disrupt animal behavior. Pictures will last much longer anyway!

  • Dress warmly. Be prepared for cold and wet weather and other environmental conditions that are typical of fall and winter months.

  • Keep dogs on leash. Dogs may try to eat salmon carcasses or interfere with spawning. Best to keep them away from salmon and other wildlife activities.

Have you seen a salmon? 

Report your observation here. Researchers are looking for reports of live and dead fish - any information is helpful!

 

Native Plant Family of the Month: Oaks, or Quercus

The ground around mature oak trees is littered this time of year with the fruits of oak trees, which are known as acorns. Oak trees provide important habitat, and the acorns provide highly nutritious autumn and winter food for birds, reptiles, insects, mammals, and even humans. We are blessed to have a few oak species native to this area which we often use in restoration and bank stabilization plantings, including Quercus lobata, the mighty valley oak and the largest of North American oaks; Quercus douglasii, known commonly as blue oak; and Quercus wislizeni, or interior live oak. Oak trees are in the Fagaceae, or Beech family. 

The valley oak tree is endemic (native and restricted) to California, and is a common restoration tree along the creek, as it prefers to be closer to an ample water supply on the valley floor at elevations below 3,000 feet. Many awesome examples of old valley oaks can be seen along Putah Creek, including in the UC Davis Arboretum, where some trees are estimated to be over 300 years old, pre-dating both the original town of Davisville (called Davis today) and the UC Davis campus. These mighty trees grow quickly, and can reach 20 feet tall in 5 years, and 40 feet in 10 years. They can reach ages of over 500 years, and can grow to heights of close to 100 feet. As they age, their branches develop a spreading, arching habit which is quite beautiful in open or creekside settings, but due to its height and spread it is not a good tree for urban residential yards. Leaves turn yellow to orange in the fall and they drop their acorns in October. Valley oak trees provide habitat (food, forage, nesting, and resting space) to over 50 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Mature trees can tolerate wild fires and most will resprout from root crowns.  

Blue oak trees are endemic to California, and are found at higher elevations, in the Sierra and Coast foothills. They are a major part of the oak woodlands habitat that forms a bathtub-shaped bowl up to 3,500 feet in elevation surrounding the Central Valley. They are smaller than the valley oaks, growing to 50 to 80 feet tall. They get their name from the dark blue-green tint of their leaves, which is easier to see from a distance or in contrast to other nearby oak species. They are deciduous, losing their leaves in the winter. These beautiful trees are slow growing, usually adding only a few inches in height each year. They do well on dry slopes, preferring full sun, and do not need much water, and as a result are a good restoration and backyard landscape tree.

Interior live oaks grow inland, and along the coast, on the valley floor and up into the foothills to 5,000 feet, and can live to be more than 500 years old. At maturity, it is a tall, broad tree (50 to 70 feet tall), with leathery evergreen leaves (it keeps its leaves year-round). This species is a major component of the foothill woodlands. The acorns of the interior live oak take 2 years to mature, unlike the blue and valley oak acorns, which mature in one year. It readily resprouts after fires. Since it is a smaller tree, it is more commonly found in gardens and yards, and grows well in dry well-drained soils.

Early Californians harvested acorns and stored them in granaries for next season, or ground them, leached out the tannins, and cooked the mash for immediate consumption. Poultices were made from oak galls (the casing the tree develops around insect eggs), to treat burns and cuts. Today, different species of oak acorns continue to be consumed by many peoples across the globe. It is highly nutritious, containing levels of proteins equivalent to some types of nuts as well as healthy omega-3 fatty acids. This author’s favorite acorn for baking is from the blue oak, as it imparts a rich smokey flavor to baked goods. Propagation is from the acorns, which sprout fairly easily after a couple of months in the refrigerator.

Salmon Observation Form

Native Plant of the Month: Coyote Brush

One of this author’s favorite winter plants is Baccharis pilularis, commonly known as coyote bush or coyote brush. Coyote brush is a perennial evergreen shrub that blooms in early winter when most other plants are dormant.  It provides critical food in the form of nectar for many native species of bees, wasps, butterflies, and flies; and right now coyote brush plants are buzzing with activity! Coyote brush is dioecious, meaning each plant is either male (its flowers are pollen-producing) or female (its flowers are seed-producing). Both male and female plants are needed (in close enough proximity) for seed production.

This tough chaparral-adapted member of the aster (Asteraceae or Composite) family grows to 8 feet tall, 4 feet wide in the wild. It can grow in alkaline as well as clay soil, and is well adapted to central valley heat and droughts. It is common to see coyote brush in sage scrub, chaparral, and oak woodland habitats in the coastal foothills, inland to the Sierra foothills. It attracts natural predator insects that eat aphids, mites and whiteflies, another of its many benefits in urban settings and restoration projects. Wildlife use the thick woody shrub for cover.  Early Californians heated the leaves, and applied them to swellings, and teas were made of the leaves to treat stomach issues and as a general remedy. Straight branches were used for arrow shafts and for construction.

Coyote brush can be used along creeks to stabilize the banks and control erosion. It is moderately fast growing, and makes an effective hedge plant in hedgerows.  It prefers full sun, and its water requirement is low.  It is deer and fire resistant.  Coyote brush seed can be collected as the poofy flowers are just starting to fly away on the wind.

Smaller varieties of coyote brush have been cultivated for urban landscapes and yards. Some even grow prostrate (flat on the ground) and can be used as groundcover plants.  Popular cultivars include ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘Pigeon Point.’ These are male plants (no unauthorized seedlings) and are popular in butterfly, bee and bird gardens.

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It's the Season of Thanks, and Giving!

As seasons change and the year comes to a close, we at Putah Creek Council like to pause to think about the many things the organization has accomplished over the last year, and to say thank you to all of our many supporters and community members who have made it all possible. We have achieved so much in 2017! Over 20 stewardship events, 40 days at the Native Plant Nursery, 5,000 lbs of trash removed during the Putah Creek Cleanup, 800 hours with the Putah Creek Restoration Interns, 20 Lake Solano Docents, over 2000 hours of volunteer service and more than 2000 students reached through our watershed and environmental education programs.

Putah Creek Council has a tremendous impact throughout our local community and the watershed beyond. Help us to continue to expand our impact by making a year-end, tax-deductible contribution to Putah Creek Council! Donate to Putah Creek Council via our Facebook page or visit our Donate button to make your contribution.

We couldn’t do it all without you, our friends, family and community. In this season of giving and reflection, the staff and Board of Putah Creek Council is most thankful for all of YOU! 

Happy Holidays and season’s greetings! See you all in the New Year!

Job Announcement: WaterWays Assistant

Update: Hiring is concluded for this position. Please check our Putah Creek News page for more recent job announcements!

Putah Creek Council is hiring 1-2 assistants for the upcoming WaterWays environmental education program. These are part-time, seasonal positions primarily working on field trips and in-class lesson programs. Please see the job description (with application) at this link, and contact Education Coordinator Karin Young with any questions: karin (at) putahcreekcouncil.org. Thank you!

Native Plant of the Month: Foothill Pine

A stand of foothill pines sits on a grassy hill.Foothill pine (Pinus sabiniana), also called gray or ghost pine, is one of California's endemic conifers and a common sight in the Putah-Cache watershed. These conifers are endemic to California - meaning they're only found here - and feature small blooms in February and March. 

Foothill pine seeds are tough to extract from the large spiky cone, but well worth the effort. The tasty seeds are still an important resource for Native Americans today, and can be eaten raw, roasted, or as a flour with other foods. Green cones can be roasted to produce a syrup, and many tribes had different medicinal uses for parts of the tree. Branches, roots, needles, and bark were used for household purposes, basketry, and building materials.

These trees are drought-tolerant and important members in the suite of plants we use for habitat plantings. Their A foothill pine sprouts in a nursery tray.generously-spaced foliage lets sunlight through to the ground, so you can often see other plants growing underneath them. Next time you drive around Winters, look west toward the hills - many of the trees you see are foothill pines! And if you want to meet one up-close and personal, we recommend the upland trails in Lake Solano Park or a Putah Creek Nursery workday.

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Osborn

Osborn

Meet the Stewardship Team

Adopt-a-Flat Program

Two girls carefully plant a small milkweed at Putah Creek.Adopt-a-Flat teaches students about plant and wildlife interactions through an ownership project, in-class lessons, and a field trip to Putah Creek or a local habitat area.

Students seed and raise flats of native plants in the classroom while learning about how these plants grow, affect their environment, and provide resources for wildlife. After watching their plants grow from seed to sprout, students carefully install them on their field trip while learning about the other plants and animals at the creek, and how we can take care of the natural world. Their plants continue to grow and thrive at the creek - and it's up to the students to ensure their own actions make the creek a good place for their plants and the animals who depend on them. 

This program is grant-supported and we work with schools to offer scholarships where possible.

Students examine a case of preserved insects while on a field trip to Putah Creek.Adopt-a-Flat is intended for 4th grade classrooms but can be modified to fit other grades. Curriculum, timelines, and field trip sites vary each year and can be tailored to fit classrooms and teacher interests. 

Example Adopt-a-Flat Schedule:
Mid-January, Lesson 1: Seeding flats & learning about environmental stewardship
Late January, Lesson 2: Depending on the specific focus, this may be exploring plant & wildlife interactions, erosion, watersheds, or other topics
February: Tending plants
March / April: Half-day field trip to Putah Creek or other habitat area to install plants. Students rotate through multiple stations, which can include planting, a nature walk, ephemeral art, wildlife explorations, etc.

Interested in bringing Adopt-a-Flat to your classroom?
Contact Karin Young, Putah Creek Council Education Program Manager, at karin (at) putahcreekcouncil.org.

Salmon in the Classroom Program

Students and chaperones look for spawning salmon in Putah Creek.

Putah Creek Council's Salmon in the Classroom Program is intended for classrooms participating in the California Department of Fish & Wildlife's Classroom Aquarium Education Program (CAEP, or Trout in the Classroom, Salmon in the Classroom, etc.) and adds in-class lessons and a field trip to the experience of raising salmon eggs in the classroom. 

While students are raising salmon eggs and watching their fish grow, our lessons provide deeper explorations of the salmon life cycle, traits we share with these fish, their interactions with their environment and food webs, and how we can be good salmon neighbors. A half-day field trip to Putah Creek offers the chance to see spawning salmon up-close, dive into a hands-on anatomy activity, and experience salmon adapatations firsthand. 

Our lessons and field trip can be delivered without keeping classroom aquaria, and the specific curriculum can be adapted to meet individual classrooms' needs. This program is grant-supported and we work with schools to offer scholarships where possible.

Salmon in the Classroom is intended for 5th grade classrooms but can be modified to fit other grades. Curriculum, timelines, and field trip schedules vary each year and can be tailored to fit classrooms and teacher interests. 

Example Salmon in the Classroom Schedule:
Late October, Lesson 1: Comparing and contrasting salmon and humans, exploring the salmon life cycle
Early November, Lesson 2: Investigating salmon survival strategies using evidence
Mid November, Lesson 3: Tracking the flow of energy through a salmon food webThree girls piece together a food web activity using a dry erase board.
Late November / Early December: Half-day field trip to Putah Creek to view spawning salmon, explore salmon anatomy, experience salmon adaptations firsthand, and piece together the interactions between salmon and the creek environment

 

Interested in participating in Salmon in the Classroom?
Contact Karin Young, Putah Creek Council Education Program Manager, at karin (at) putahcreekcouncil.org.

Putah Creek Club

Students look down at Putah Creek from the Winters railroad bridge.Putah Creek Club brings Winters Middle School students out to the creek for after-school meetings to explore and restore the creek environment. 

Students meet biweekly to learn about Putah Creek's flora and fauna, practice environmental stewardship, and do habitat enhancement projects in Winters Putah Creek Nature Park. The Club meets throughout the school year and accepts new members throughout the year.

This program is supported by Putah Creek Council member donations and offered free to Winters Middle School students. 

Putah Creek Club is instrumental in helping collect important data along the creek in Winters. Check out their wildlife monitoring efforts.

Example Putah Creek Club Meeting:

  • Meet at Winters Putah Creek Nature Park, gather supplies
  • Install a trail camera to monitor changes in a portion of the creek
  • Investigate a salmon carcass, brainstorm ways its nutrients might be used
  • Water and monitor plants installed at a previous meeting
  • Snacks and journaling, head home

Interested in bringing Putah Creek Club to your school?
Contact Karin Young, Putah Creek Council Education Program Manager, at karin (at) putahcreekcouncil.org.

WaterWays

Students use spoons and magnifiers to examine critters that live in Lake Solano.

WaterWays introduces Solano County students to their water source through lessons exploring watersheds, water conservation, and a half-day field trip to Lake Solano Park. 

Students learn about how water moves through our landscapes and investigate how our actions affect watershed health. On a field trip to Lake Solano Park, students investigate the source of their drinking water and learn about everyone else that depends on this valuable resource. A final lesson deepens students' commitment to use water resources responsibly and reinforces ways they can keep their watershed clean. 

This program is funded by the Solano County Water Agency and offered free to elementary and grade schools in Solano County. Bus scholarships are offered as possible.

WaterWays is offered in Winter and Spring, and is intended for 4th and 5th grade classrooms. Field trip curriculum is tailored to teacher interests. 

A park ranger teaches a group of students about watershed pollution.

Example WaterWays Schedule:
Lesson 1: Developing a watershed concept, examining where our water comes from
Field Trip: Exploring Lake Solano Park to learn about water resources, adaptations plants and animals use to obtain water, and exploring how our actions can keep watersheds clean
Lesson 2: Evaluating our water use and practicing ways to conserve and protect water resources

Interested in participating in WaterWays?
Contact Karin Young, Putah Creek Council Education Program Manager, at karin (at) putahcreekcouncil.org.

CSI: Creek Science Investigations

Students examine a thermometer to check water temperature.CSI: Creek Science Investigations gets students practicing science using Putah Creek as a laboratory.

Students learn about different creek habitats, then develop scientific questions and plan their investigations. What data will they need to collect? What observations will they need to make? What resources will this require? All of this planning comes to fruition on a field trip to Lake Solano Park, during which they collect the data and observations needed to answer their questions. Back in the classroom, they compile their results, compare what they found with other sources, and work to answer their question. 

This program is supported by Putah Creek Council member donations and we work with schools to offer scholarships where possible. 

CSI: Creek Science Investigations is intended for 7th grade classrooms but can be modified to fit other grades. Curriculum, timelines, and field trips can be shifted to meet teacher interests and needs. 

A group of girls piece together a food web to explore interactions between different aquatic organisms.

Example CSI: Creek Science Investigations Schedule:
Lesson 1: Introduction to creek habitats, brainstorming question ideas
Lesson 2: Developing scientific questions and planning investigations
Field Trip: Collecting data, making observations, and exploring the creek environment
Lesson 3: Sorting through data, comparing to evidence, and answering the question
Final Project: Producing a written report of their findings for publication in the town newspaper

Interested in bringing CSI: Creek Science Investigations to your classrooms?
Contact Karin Young, Putah Creek Council Education Program Manager, at karin (at) putahcreekcouncil.org.

Other Education Programs

Students line up to look through a birding scope.Are you looking for a field trip to Putah Creek? Interested in developing a new program with Putah Creek Council?

Please contact us! Depending on current schedules,we can plan one-time field trips with or without lessons or can work with you to develop a program that suits your needs. Contact Putah Creek Council Education Program Manager Karin Young at karin (at) putahcreekcouncil.org to inquire about availability and program options.

Our ability to offer extra programming is supported by current grants and member contributions. 

Native Plant of the Month: Santa Barbara Sedge

Ever heard this bit of poetry?
 
Sedges have edges
Rushes are round
Grasses are hollow
Right up from the ground

Abundant along the floodplain of Putah Creek, sedges, rushes, and grasses are notoriously difficult to distinguish from each other. The triangular stem found on most sedges, however, gives the observer a real “edge” in telling them apart, as the above poem illustrates.

Santa Barbara sedge (Carex barbarae) is low-growing and thrives in the flood-prone and shady understory of the forests along rivers and streams. The ecosystem services it provides are numerous. Its seeds provide nourishing forage for waterfowl, song birds, and mammals of all sizes. The plant itself serves as nesting habitat for some songbirds and protective cover for reptiles, small mammals, and fish.

One of its common names, “white root sedge,” refers to this plant’s long white rhizomes (horizontal, underground stems). The rhizomes are of great importance as a basketry material to many indigenous tribes, who historically tended the plants by burning in the dormant season, and sustainably harvesting them to yield long, four to six foot rhizomes used to weave baskets. Its rhizomes are not only culturally significant; they help with streambank stabilization and erosion control, making this sedge a favorite plant for ecological restoration.

Next time you visit Putah Creek, take a closer look at the “grasses” underfoot along the floodplain. If the leaves meet in a triad along the stem, you just may find yourself breaking into verse!

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November Water Bond News

The November Water Bond will increase the state’s water supply by enough water to supply more than three million households, stabilize water supplies for agriculture, and provide much needed water and water related habitat for California’s fish and wildlife. 

Paid for by Californians for Safe Drinking Water and a Clean and Reliable Water Supply.  Committee major funding from California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited, and California Fresh Fruit Association.

You can see the latest endorsement list, access a wide variety of information sheets, and even make a campaign contribution on our website at www.waterbond.org.  You can also follow us on twitter @CAWaterBond.

DWR and Reclamation Announce a Public Workshop for the Yolo Bypass Salmon Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) are holding a public workshop to share information, answer questions, and get input from interested stakeholders on draft alternatives for the Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project.

 
The proposed project is being carried out to meet requirements in the 2009 National Marine Fisheries Service’s Biological Opinion and Conference Opinion on the Long-Term Operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project will improve fish passage within the Yolo Bypass and between the Yolo Bypass and the Sacramento River. The primary structure will improve fish passage over a wide range of high flow conditions in the Sacramento River. The Project will also enhance up to 17,000 acres of floodplain rearing habitat for juvenile salmonids (salmon and steelhead). The project will consist of gated channels in the Fremont Weir, at the northern end of the Bypass. These changes will improve the connection between the Sacramento River and the floodplain from November through March 15, when the targeted juvenile fish are in the river. The increased flow will help young salmonids access the Bypass and will enhance natural flooding, which now occurs to some extent in the Bypass in about 70% of years. An increased volume of water entering the Bypass will result in a greater floodplain area. Longer flooding will allow salmonids to feed in a food-rich floodplain for a longer time where they can rapidly grow to a large size, thus improving their survival to the ocean. The increased flows will be managed to avoid or minimize effects on farmers’ spring planting time.
 
For more information, check out the project here

Stephen McCord

 

Stephen McCord first came to Davis in 1993 as a graduate student after having worked or traveled around five continents. After completing his doctoral studies he again left the country only to arrive right back in Davis in 2000, finally ready to go native. His interactions with PCC began in the early 2000’s while he was President of another local nonprofit that organized riparian plantings and trash cleanup events. These days his consulting business provides water quality engineering services throughout the region, making numerous contacts and experiences that align with PCC’s mission. He has served on the board since 2011.

Stephen loves being outdoors, especially around water. He has experienced the entire length of Putah Creek while fishing, photographing, birdwatching, removing trash, planting, and even joining conference calls. As a board member, he appreciates the opportunity to serve with both white collars (in board meetings) and blue ones (stewardship events).

In his spare time, Stephen enjoys playing many sports, backpacking or otherwise traveling, and coaching, mentoring and advising students. He lives in Davis with his wife Mona and daughter Asia.

 

Valerie Whitworth

Valerie Whitworth is a small-time farmer who has worked with Putah Creek Council since its inception. She first came to the Central Valley as a Regents Scholar Freshman in 1963 after living on the California Coast most of her life. Born in England, she was unprepared for the dry heat of the Central Valley and naturally gravitated to the nearest water. Putah Creek gave her both water and wonderful plant and wildlife including amazing birds, coyotes, foxes, otter, mink, and beaver as well as cougar prints on her land by the creek.  she was responsible for obtaining the funds for the first creek engineering project located on Dry Creek.
 
To me, Putah Creek Council epitomizes the selfless giving of time and energy to a landscape that is invaluable. The values that I hold dearest are held as goals by Putah Creek Council. To be part of a group of people focused on protecting and defending a landscape in California that is under attack by development, carelessness, neglect and changes in climate is a privilege.. To be sure that future generations can seek and find such a landscape keeps me working to protect Putah Creek.
 
Traveling is a passion for me and my husband, the botanist Michael Barbour, and we have had adventures in botany worldwide. I love being a grandmother and spend as much time as I can with my grand daughter, Grace, on the creek. I enjoy writing, both grants and creatively. I am a reader, but also a person who enjoys working and playing outdoors, playing sports, singing, dancing, and plein aire painting.  
 

Earl Byron

Earl Byron has been interested in aquatic science throughout his education and career; with a BA in marine biology from UCSB and doctorate in aquatic ecology and limnology from

 U of Colorado, Boulder, to a career in water quality and aquatic ecology at UC Davis and in consulting.  These interests naturally fit with volunteer service to a local, aquatic habitat-focused nonprofit such as PCC.

Earl’s love of “all things aquatic” naturally translates into supporting the stewardship and education missions of Putah Creek Council. Earl, has led student explorations of marsh, stream, and tidepool habitats locally and in southern California as part of volunteer activities, both in terms of his children’s activities and now, with PCC and other environmental-focused organizations.  He has been involved with annual creek cleanups for years. He believes that environmental education and community-involved stewardship are vital to making a positive difference in our lives and that of the planet.

Earl is mostly retired from active consulting and enjoys time with family and travel, especially with any outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and canoe or kayaking.  As an unrelated passion, he loves singing in a local doo-wop and oldies a cappella group, performing at Davis and Winters venues.

 

Steve Culbertson

Steven moved to Davis in 1990 to attend graduate school after several years living abroad serving in the U.S. Peace Corps. Steven is currently the Lead Scientist with the Interagency Ecological Program, a nine-agency governmental collaborative science program for collecting and analyzing aquatic habitat data within the San Francisco Estuary.

Steven Culberson holds a Ph.D. in Ecology, and an M.S. in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis, following a B.A. in Biology from Oberlin College in Ohio. Steven has previously worked for the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Away from work Steve can be found canoeing, relaxing at home with his wife Mary, or attempting to run the occasional 10K race in and around Davis and the Sacramento area.

 

Melissa Thorme

Melissa has been in the Davis area since she came here for law school and a Master’s degree at UC Davis in the 1980s. As an environmental lawyer and previous volunteer for other organizations such as the Sierra Club and the Riparian Improvement Organization (RIO), she has a depth of experience and knowledge that supplements the other experiences of other Putah Creek Council Board members.

Melissa has long been an advocate for Putah Creek, organizing litter cleanups and installing interpretive signage in the 1990s along the Creek for RIO. She appreciated the work PCC did in the way of advocacy, habitat restoration, and environmental education and wanted to be a part of it. She assists PCC with her head, hands and heart, by proposing changes to policies, volunteering at events, and enjoying the natural beauty of Putah Creek.

Besides being a PCC Board member, Melissa writes novels, rides her horse, trains and shows her two German Shepherds, and works as a water quality lawyer at the law firm of Downey Brand LLP in Sacramento.

 

Turid Reid

Davis had been my home since 1978, but it was only after we were charmed in the mid 80’s by a property with Putah Creek as the southern 

boundary that this waterway became personal to me. I met Susan Sanders, one of the original founders of Putah Creek Council when we worked together on the Homestake Technical Review panel, and she encouraged me to become involved in this new venture. Since I had worked for many years on scientific aspects of water rights, and also on the effects of water quality on the biota, I enthusiastically agreed to help her.

Having Putah Creek in our backyard, and having always been enthusiastic about outdoor adventures, this waterway has provided my family and friends with many opportunities to explore the river, and it’s riparian flora and fauna. Much of the work that Putah Creek Council does ensures that this local jewel is preserved and enhanced for future generations, and I want to be able to contribute to that.

I came to Davis via an upbringing in Zambia and early adulthood in New Zealand. I am an enthusiastic hiker and camper, will get out on the water in anything that floats, jump at any opportunity for foreign travel, and like gardening and photography. When possible, I try to get my now far flung family together. Those two small boys and two little girls that played in Putah Creek long ago cherish those memories.

 

Job Announcement: Stewardship Assistant

Update, May 2018: This position has been filled.
 
Putah Creek Council is currently accepting applications for a part time Stewardship Assistant.

 
The Stewardship Assistant is responsible for helping prepare for and lead volunteer events at the Putah Creek Nursery and at habitat enhancement projects in the watershed. A qualified candidate will be capable of enthusiastically leading volunteers in plant propagation, care, and planting, and will be available to work evenings and weekends. This is a part-time position with variable hours. Complete the job description and application, and email, along with resume, to Amy Williams, amy@putahcreekcouncil.org. Thank you!
 

Native Plant of the Month: California Buckeye

“Early to bed, early to rise..” This part of Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote always comes to mind when California buckeye (Aesculus californica) is visible in the landscape. First to go dormant in late summer, and first to put on new leaves and green up in late winter, they seem uniquely out of sync with the surrounding landscape. This strange timing helps the buckeye thrive in a climate where winters are wet - perfect for growing leaves - and summers are hot and dry - ideal for early dormancy.

 
Buckeye trees are easily distinguishable by their palmately compound leaves, or leaves formed from five to seven leaflets
 that radiate like fingers from one point in the center. When buckeyes begin to bloom in May, a show appears in the form of large, banana-shaped four to eight-inch clusters of cream colored flowers. The 1 to 2 inch nut-like seeds produced from these blooms are brown with a light spot like an eye - the tree’s namesake. The buckeye tree has a rounded, many branched shape, up to 40 feet tall and wide, and may even be the favorite climbing tree of someone you know!
 
(Header photo ©2007 John Morgan CC by 2.0)
 

2018 One Creek | Putah Creek Restoration Internships

Putah Creek Council offers summer internships to community members ages 16 and older. Interns in the program work closely with Putah Creek Council staff and interns working at the U.C. Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve (UCD) and with Solano County Water Agency (SCWA). They also work with, and learn from, our restoration partners who are experts in the fields of habitat restoration, native plant landscaping, outdoor recreation management, native plant propagation, and nursery management.

Internships are a valuable way to gain job skills, learn about a profession, receive mentorship, and be part of an important local community effort. Interns who successfully complete their internship receive a stipend (prorated - up to $575) and letter of recommendation from Putah Creek Council, which can be an asset for college and job applications.

The 2018 Summer Intern schedule will be 19 June - 8 August; on Tuesdays, 8:30-11:30 AM at the native plant nursery in South Davis, and on Wednesdays, 8:30–11:30 AM at various restoration sites in Yolo and Solano Counties with Putah Creek Council partners. Interns will work under the supervision of Putah Creek Council staff. 

In the nursery, interns will learn native plant identification, propagation, and other aspects of nursery operations. In the field, interns will learn how to run, maintain, and repair drip irrigation, care for field-planted native vegetation, build and maintain trails, and manage other public recreation resources.

  • Training will be provided. 
  • Interns must provide their own transportation to the native plant nursery in south Davis. Vanpools from UCD may be available to some restoration sites.  
  • Interns must be physically fit, able to lift twenty-five pounds, able to walk and stand on uneven ground, and willing to work in an outdoor setting without access to air conditioning during the months of June-August.
  • Interns will be expected to participate in all events; 8 nursery events on Tuesday mornings, and 8 restoration events on Wednesday mornings. 

To apply for the 2018 One Creek Restoration Internship, please complete this ONLINE APPLICATION. Rolling applications will be accepted, with priority given to earlier applications. Interns will be notified of their acceptance beginning May 14.

If you are interested in learning more, please email Amy Williams, Putah Creek Council Stewardship Coordinator, at amy@putahcreekcouncil.org, or call: 530-795-3006.

To view a great article about our 2013 summer interns, click here.

Native Plant of the Month: Red Willow

T​he willows along ​Putah Creek are looking fuzzier than usual this time of year. Upon closer inspection, they ​are actually ​adorned in green or yellow ​inflorescences ​(flower clusters) shaped like caterpillars, ​and​ might even be giving off cottony tufts​ of seeds​.

One especially shapely willow tree common to Putah Creek is red willow (Salix laevigata). Red willow is a ​m​edium sized deciduous tree, growing ​up to 40 feet tall from winding trunks. Its red to brownish twigs are flexible and easily snap off at the base, and its glossy green leaves are ​narrow, spear shaped, and pointy at the tip, and are dull gray-green underneath.

​Like all willows, red willow is dioecious, which means it has separate flowers for its male and female parts, and these flowers are housed on different trees. Both types of flowers appear as unshowy, drooping catkins, designed for wind pollination, but the cottony seeds are produced only by the female flowers.

The ability of w​illows ​to grow ​readily​ and quickly in​ heavy, wet soils​, make them useful in restoration for helping minimize soil erosion near waterways​. Like other willows, red willow ​is well adapted to flooding. Branches broken off during disturbance ​​sprout easily to create new plants where they lodge in banks downstream. Restoration practitioners take advantage of this characteristic to encourage establishment of new plants by driving cuttings directly into the soil near water.

Red willow provides wildlife cover and nesting habitat in the mid​-​story layer ​of the​ riparian forest. In the​ ​spring, insects swarm and feed on willow​ ​nectar and birds feed on the seed. ​It and other native willows serve as host plants for several butterflies, including ​Lorquin’s Admiral (Limenitis lorquini), Willow Hairstreak (Satyrium sylvinus)​, and Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)​.​

​Willow​s are an essential basket weaving material for indigenous people of California. Suitable basket materials are produced through burning or regular pruning of the trees. Traditional house frames, fences, sweat lodges, arrow shafts​, and medicines are also created using willow. The pain reliever​ ​aspirin is a synthetic derivative of salicylic​ ​acid, a bitter medicinal compound found in​ ​willow bark​, and the namesake for the family of plants that willows belong to, Salicaceae​.

 

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Invasive Plants of Putah Creek

Invasive Plants

 

Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima): not so heavenly for Putah Creek. So named for its ability to rapidly grow towards the heavens, this native of Asia also produces copious seeds and vigorously sucker sprouts. In short, tree-of-heaven is a formidable competitor to native vegetation. It can resemble the native California black walnut - both have similar looking pinnately compound leaves - but the leaflets of tree-of-heaven have a small lobe at the base and are foul-smelling when crushed. 

 

Giant reed (Arundo donax) is one of the most infamous streamside weeds. Imported from Asia and once planted as an ornamental (who doesn't love the look of bamboo?), it proved to be well-adapted to streams and flooding. Plant fragments washed downstream during a flood develop roots and quickly grow new plants, making it difficult and expensive to control. Fun Fact: Giant reed does not produce viable seed in North America and only spreads by sprouting from stem fragments and rhizomes (underground stems).
 
 

Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis): Why is yellow starthistle so successful at invading the landscape? For only 4.5" of plant, this yellow starthistle has nearly 29" of root! Yellow starthistle thrives in central California and is widely regarded as one of the worst weeds in our region. Not only does it spread rapidly, its water consumption can have significant drying effects on a landscape, it is unpalatable to grazing livestock that might control it, and it just plain hurts! Where to find it: everywhere( if you see a gray pallor over a hillside, that might be last year's dead stalks. Look close and you might find the ratty seedheads left over). Don't be part of the problem: check your boots, clothes, and gear after you've been in an area with lots of yellow starthistle. Make sure to remove any seeds so you don't spread this weed - and if you see some near you, pull them!

 

Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon): If you have ever been on a lawn, athletic field, or golf course in the warmer part of the United States, you might have been standing on Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon). A perennial grass that was introduced to the United States in the early 1800's for use as a turf grass and as forage for livestock, Bermudagrass is still one of the most popular grasses for lawns in warm climates. Its ability to spread aggressively via rhizomes (horizontal underground stems) and stolons (horizontal aboveground stems, also called runners) to form dense mats that are heat, salt, and drought tolerant - important for successful lawn grasses - has also helped establish its reputation as a hard to control invasive. It easily invades roadsides, gardens, farm fields, and other open spaces. In natural areas, Bermudagrass can be effective in soil stabilization and erosion control, but its mat-forming properties cause it to displace native grasses and other vegetation that provide critical habitat for native wildlife. Mowing or tilling to break it up only cause it to grow denser mats, and eradication requires either the nearly impossible task of completely removing of all plant pieces from the soil, or repeated treatment with herbicide. (Photo: Bermudagrass inflorescence, or flowering head. © Keir Morse)

 

Perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium): The Mustard Family, Brassicaceae, produces some of the most common weeds we see in the Putah Creek watershed. Its hard to miss the bright yellow fields of black mustard in the springtime, intermixed with the white or purple blossoms of wild radish. Perennial pepperweed is one of their more pernicious weed cousins in the Mustard Family. It is native to Eurasia, but now grows in many countries throughout the world, including much of the United States and in all but three counties in California. A noxious invader of wetland areas and waterways, perennial pepperweed produces three to eight foot gray-green stands topped with tiny white flowers. Its ability to spread by both seeds and root fragments allow it to form dense stands that exclude other plant species on which wildlife depend. Control of this weed is complicated by the fact that manual removal can increase the density of the stand owing to perennial pepperweed's ability to grow new plants from small root fragments left in the soil. This characteristic combined with its deep and prolific root system make it all but impossible to eradicate using this method. In short: don't pull this weed! The only viable method of controlling perennial pepperweed seems to be repeated treatment with herbicide.

Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum): This is one of the prettiest aquatic weeds in Putah Creek. This beautiful plant might look familiar, since it is often sold in pet shops and kept in aquaria - and that's how it has ended up introduced to waterways worldwide. Eurasian watermilfoil may be pretty, but it's also problematic. This weed can spread aggressively, altering the underwater habitats that native flora and fauna rely on. Manually removing it is tough - each fragment can grow into a new plant - and unless you can change the conditions that it enjoys (shallow, clear water with slower flows) it'll come right back. Where to find it: Lake Solano is an easy place to observe Eurasian watermilfoil, though it is present throughout Putah Creek. Don't be part of the problem: don't dump your aquarium into creeks, lakes, or rivers! If you need to rehome your fishy or frondy friends, contact a local pet rescue or pet supply store.

 

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus): You may know them as the delicious, sweet berries that grow in large, mounding thickets along roadsides, disturbed areas, and especially along our local #PutahCreek. A native of western Europe, Himalayan blackberry got its start on the continent as a cultivated berry, which later escaped to the wild. Today it is widespread throughout California and listed as a “High” threat to California’s natural areas by UC Davis IPM. A single plant can create a thorny, evergreen thicket that reaches almost 10 feet high, with canes, or stems, that can extend over 20 feet in length, rooting and sending up new plants where it touches the ground. Birds and other wildlife eat the berries, dispersing the seeds of over long distances. This vigorous shrub is especially adept at displacing native vegetation with its dense canopy, shading out ground level plants, blocking access to water for wildlife and humans, and attracting rats which can prey upon native nesting birds. Read more about it at this link: https://wiki.bugwood.org/Rubus_armeniacus#General_Description

 

 

 

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Invasive Species Awareness

 

Invasive species are plants, animals, insects, and even microbes

that are not native to a place and cause harm to the environment,

economy, or human health. The links below highlight some of

the notable invasive species present in the Putah-Cache

watershed.

 

Invasive Plants of Putah Creek

Invasive Animals of Putah Creek

Invasive Animals of Putah Creek

Invasive Terrestrial Animals

Brown-headed Cowbird: The Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) is now a relatively common native blackbird distributed continent-wide. It has been able to expand from its traditional range in the open grasslands of the Midwest by following cleared forest habitats that have been opened up for human use. Described as a “brood parasite” it has an unusually successful method of reproducing by laying its eggs in the nests of other birds, often at the expense of the hosts own young. Because it does not need to build nests or rear its own young, the female can focus on producing eggs, sometimes laying up to 3 dozen eggs during the nesting season. The Cowbird is believed to be contributing to declining populations of many smaller songbird species such as warblers and vireos. As a common resident along Putah Creek, the shiny black male can be heard and seen sitting high along open areas giving a gurgling call to chattering brown females who continually search for an opportunity to willingly pass any child-rearing responsibilities to a more responsible parent.

 

European Starlings: Have you seen these iridescent beauties around? One hundred European Starlings were introduced in New York in 1890-1891 (thanks, Eugene Schieffelin!) and today they are one of the most widespread birds in North America. They are common along Putah Creek, but many folks don't like them - European Starlings compete with native cavity-nesting birds for nest spaces and can cause significant crop damage. But they're quite pretty, fun to watch, and earn some grudging respect for their tenacity! 

 

 

 

 

 

Roof rat (Rattus rattus): This next offender is probably familiar to you, and loathed as well - and to complicate things, it's a twofer! California has two subspecies of Rattus rattus: R. r. alexandrinus is our familiar roof rat (hear that scurrying in the attic?), while R. r. rattus is more commonly known as the black rat. These rodents are invasive species often found in urban areas, where they enjoy a varied diet of plant and animal foods with a hefty sprinkling of garbage. Black/roof are pests in our households - damaging vehicles, contaminating food stores - and they also carry diseases such as bubonic plague, salmonella, rabies, and tularemia. They may be nuisances to us, but we can address this concern through exclusion (filling gaps that they use to enter buildings), trapping, and chemical means. Others are not so fortunate: black/roof rats are implicated in the declines or extinctions of island birds, as well as other animals. Island-wide eradication is difficult and expensive, so more attention is paid to preventing rats from arriving to new areas. Do your part by sealing up possible entry points and rat-proofing outdoor food sources (like compost bins, chicken coops, and pet bowls). If you do have a rat infestation, consider mechanical or biological removal - trapping or installing barn owl boxes where possible - rather than poison products, which can harm other animals. (Photo: Rattus rattus, CSIRO ScienceImage)

Squirrels: Those cute critters with bushy tails - we see them all over. But did you know we have three different species of tree squirrels in this area? Eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) and eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinenesis) are not native to California, but introduced themselves from the eastern U.S. Both are considered pests in urban and agricultural settings. The eastern fox squirrel (also called red squirrel) is the most serious pest. In and around town they feed on immature and mature almonds, walnuts, apples, apricots and others. They also help themselves to garden vegetables, strawberries, and other crops. In the fall they dig holes in soil and turf, and cache nuts, acorns, and seeds for later, which they may never retrieve. They can tear up landscapes and plant oaks in the wrong places. They gnaw on cables and wires, can chew their way into attics, and can damage trees by stripping off bark. They also carry diseases, and can be infested with fleas and mites. The eastern tree squirrels, as well as their California native cousin, the western gray squirrel, (Sciurus griseus) are common along the creek, #PutahCreek where they feed on seeds, fungi, and other plants, and nest in tree cavities or in nests they construct of twigs, leaves and shredded bark. They can also invade wooden nest boxes designed for cavity-nesting birds. Although many people feed and provide nest boxes for squirrels, to encourage their presence, this exacerbates their bad behaviors -- please don't feed the wildlife. They are difficult to control because they are agile, flexible, and clever, and keeping them out of the yard and garden is a continuous challenge. Cut back trees that are close to roofs or fences, use nets over fruit trees, and generally make the yard less attractive to squirrels. Screens and sheet metal is effective for keeping them out of attics and buildings, and covering garden rows with cage-like covers of chicken wire can keep them out of the garden.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes): One of the more charismatic of the invasive species in California, the Red Fox, or Vulpes Vulpes, has an interesting history and introduction to the state. A different species from the Sierra Nevada Red Fox, this species was introduced from the eastern US in the nineteenth century. Believed to be decedents of escapees or releases from fur farms, the Red Fox was incredibly successful at adapting to various environments and habitats throughout the state, sometimes out-competing the native Gray Fox. The Red Fox typically feeds on small rodents, birds, berries and insects for the bulk of its diet, and they can even capture larger birds, including mallards and pheasant. Like most members of the dog family, these foxes are incredibly versatile and adaptive and can live in close proximity to people and neighborhoods, or with equal ease in lowlands, riparian zones, foothills and higher elevations. These foxes have whiskers and long, guard hairs on their faces and legs that help them to move through tight spaces and sense their surroundings. And like other members of the dog family, the Red Fox cannot retract their nails. However, the Gray Fox, which occupies similar habitats, can! And most unusual, Red Foxes give off a “skunky scent”, produced from musk glands at the base of their tail, and the smell is often mistaken for that of the skunk. While the Red Fox can be an aggressive predator and pose a threat to bird-stock and small pets, they also serve and important biological service in the control of rodents, and event non-native pest species. Some ecological groups look upon the similarity of the Red Fox and other, native fox species, and feel that the similarities and length of time the species has occupied native habitats and feel that they have become sufficiently endemic and are now part of the California landscape.

 

Invasive Aquatic Animals

Red Shiner: The Red shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis), was originally found in river and stream systems from Mississippi west to Colorado and south to the Rio Grande river. As a popular bait fish it is now distributed nation-wide. This is the most invasive of a series of fishes that can be legally sold as bait around California. It became legal in the 1970s despite protests that it was known to have negative effects on native fishes elsewhere either through direct competition where it can quickly become established in huge numbers and/or is suspected of being able to interbreed with endemic species. In the mid-1990’s the red shiner invaded lower Cache Creek and now represents 90% of the fish in that system. It has been less successful in Putah Creek, but is becoming increasingly common. The initial introduction is often followed by the species' rapid multiplication, dispersal, and aggressive colonization. In some areas, dispersal of introduced populations has been aided by the presence of irrigation ditches and canals. When spawning, it is a very pretty little fish, with steely blue males tinged with bright red and is sold in the aquarium trade as the “rainbow dace”.

Red Swamp Crayfish: The Red Swamp Crayfish (Procombarus clarkia) is a native to northern Mexico and the southern and southeastern US. Once introduced into the Yolo County waterways it spread rapidly. Considered one of the most adaptable crayfish species, it is considered an invasive pest species that can colonize everything from creeks and rivers to reservoirs, marshes, irrigation systems and can survive for months in areas that are seasonally dry. Unlike its relatives that eat mostly plants, this species is omnivorous consuming everything from plants to fish eggs which can cause problems for ecosystems where it can threaten struggling populations of native plants and animals. Although this species accounts for a majority of the crayfish produced in the U.S. as food, you may want to be cautious about eating one from a questionable water source that may be contaminated by chemical or biological toxins. (Photo: Brian Keeley)

 

Red-eared slider: Did you have a red-eared slider as a pet when you were a kid? It is the most popular pet turtle in the United States, and is a popular pet world-wide. It gets its name from the small red stripe around its ears, and because it easily slides off logs into the water when startled. Red-eared sliders are native to the southern Great Lakes area, west to Indiana, and south into southern U.S. and northern Mexico. You may have seen them basking on logs or rocks along Putah Creek, as they are fairly common. Unfortunately they out-compete our native western pond turtles, which tend to be shy and reclusive, and reproduce much more slowly. Red-eared sliders make great pets, but please don't "liberate" your little visitor into our local streams or ponds. 

 

 

New Zealand Mudsnails (NZMS):These are one of our most formidable aquatic invasive species. NZMS were first observed in Putah Creek in the fall of 2003 at Fishing Access #3 below Monticello Dam. They spread somewhat slowly at first, but with this winter’s high flows, they may have spread widely. NZMS disrupt the food chain by competing for algae with native benthic (bottom-dwelling) macro-invertebrates like caddisflies and mayflies – excellent fish food and bird food. Help prevent the spread of NZMS in Putah Creek by ALWAYS cleaning and thoroughly drying your boots before entering other areas of the creek or other waterways. Photo courtesy of Ken Davis.

 

 

 

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Native Plant of the Month: Baltic Rush

 

Baltic rush (Juncus balticus), also known as wire rush, is noticeable for its conspicuously straight and vertical, dark green stems arising from the ground. Flowers, appearing to burst out of the sides of the stems, are notable for their often pink stigmas (the part of the female flower where pollen lands and germinates), visible during bloom time. Baltic rush is a perennial herb that grows to over three feet tall and spreads with long, scaly, underground stems (rhizomes) to create stands near to the water.

Rushes provide food and habitat for a variety of birds and mammals. Songbirds and waterfowl eat the tiny seeds and muskrats feed on the roots and rhizomes. Rushes also provide cover for wading birds in wetlands, and spawning areas for fish.

A valuable weaving material for baskets and mats, Baltic rush is of historical importance to a number of native California tribes. Its seeds and young shoots can be eaten raw or roasted, and the sugar that forms along the top of the plant can be collected and eaten as a sweet.

Baltic rush fixes nitrogen, meaning it draws nitrogen from the air and uses it to grow, and upon decomposing, adds the nitrogen to the soil in a form usable by other plants. Its rhizomes and dense root system spread out to capture and stabilize soil, providing important erosion control services when used in habitat restoration.

Baltic rush is widespread throughout the world, and grows at elevations from sea level to 7,200 feet in California. Look for it growing along the edges of Putah Creek!

(Header photo ©Deborah Small)

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Putah Creek Council Receives Support from Raley’s for the One Creek Intern Program

Putah Creek Council is pleased to once again work in partnership with Raley’s in support of our One Creek Putah Creek Restoration Internship, Adopt-a-Flat program and our Watershed Nursery, supporting our 30 years of advocacy, education and stewardship throughout the Putah/Cache watershed.

 The One Creek | Putah Creek Restoration Internship program is unique because it brings together all the summer restoration interns working for three organizations along Putah Creek (Putah Creek Council, U.C. Davis, and Solano County Water Agency (SCWA)) for several joint watershed protection and restoration projects. Each summer, the Council coordinates eight plant propagation events at the Putah Creek Native Plant Nursery and eight joint watershed protection/restoration projects in the Lower Putah Creek watershed. This partnership enables us to offer interns more exposure to professionals working in the field of restoration, a higher diversity of project sites, and different types of restoration activities, ultimately increasing the value of their internship.

Putah Creek Council’s Adopt-a-Flat Education Program teaches 4th grade students in Yolo and Solano Counties about environmental stewardship through two in-class lessons, a hands-on service project, and a half-day field trip to a local habitat area. This program has been successfully growing plants and the next generation of environmental stewards in local classrooms since its inception in 2007.

The Putah Creek Native Plant Nursery has been run through a highly successful partnership between the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee (LPCCC), CAL FIRE, and the Council since 2008. Supported by Solano County Water Agency, plant sales, and small grants, the nursery has engaged and educated hundreds of volunteers in Yolo and Solano counties and the surrounding areas in growing locally sourced, native plants for habitat enhancement and restoration. All plants in the nursery are propagated from seeds and cuttings taken from plants in the Putah-Cache bioregion, and grown by community volunteers.

“Raley’s is proud to support Putah Creek Council.  Their efforts to protect and enhance Putah Creek, its watershed, and tributaries are crucial to the sustainability of agriculture and our ecosystem,” said Megan Riggs, Community Coordinator for Raley’s.  “Through advocacy, education and community stewardship, they are teaching individuals of all ages the importance of preserving land, the power of pollination and an appreciation of diverse communities.”

This valuable partnership supports Putah Creek Council’s mission to protect and enhance Putah Creek, its watershed and tributaries through advocacy, education and community-based stewardship. Through Raley’s ongoing support of each of these programs, Putah Creek Council will be able to work with 15 One Creek Interns, bring over 150 students out into the watershed, 400 volunteers through the Watershed Nursery and stewardship and propagate more than 30,000 plants.

Native Plant of the Month: Pacific Aster

Pacific aster (Symphyotrichum chilense) is a native plant of the Putah Creek watershed whose range extends along the west coast of North America from British Columbia to southern California. Although its distribution is limited to North America, it was once mistakenly thought to occur in Chile, thus the scientific name, "S. chilense." It is commonly found in grasslands, meadows, along waterways, and in disturbed areas along the coast and into the Central Valley from sea level to 1,700 feet.

Pacific aster truly comes alive in the month of July when its otherwise inconspicuous, knee-high, sprawling form bursts forth with clusters of yellow centered, purple, daisy-like flowers. The blooms give way to fluffs of cottony seeds that are dispersed by the wind.

Pacific aster is an important late season pollinator plant. It provides a source of pollen and nectar for native bees, beneficial insects and butterflies during late fall, when few other species are in bloom. Asters serve as a host plant for the Field Crescent butterfly (Phyciodes campestris campestris), meaning it is the plant on which the butterfly larvae will hatch and feed until maturity.

Pacific aster is useful for helping provide erosion control in the early stages of ecological restoration projects. It does this through its ability to produce large, extensive root systems that capture and stabilize soil, and by spreading vegetatively into large colonies via long rhizomes (underground stems). A prolific seed producer, Pacific aster is easy to propagate. Seeds germinate readily with no pre-treatment, and it can also be propagated through divisions of the rhizomes or roots.

Look for this plant along the floodplains of Putah Creek this month. You might be treated to a show of butterflies and other interesting local insects as well!

(Photo credit ©2015 Bob Sikora)
 
 
 
 

Job Announcement: Education Assistant Position

This image shows a woman leading a group of students across a grassy hill.Update, August 30 2018: This position has been filled. Please check our Putah Creek News page for more recent job announcements!

Putah Creek Council is currently accepting applications for a part-time Education Assistant.

The Education Assistant is responsible for helping prepare for and lead education programs in classrooms and a variety of outdoor sites in the Putah-Cache watershed. A qualified candidate will be capable of enthusiastically and professionally leading student groups in learning about watersheds, ecology, and environmental stewardship. This is a  part-time position with variable hours.

The job description and application are available at this link. To apply, complete the job application and email, along with a resume, to Karin Young, karin@putahcreekcouncil.org

Applications will be reviewed beginning August 10, 2018. Please direct any questions to admin@putahcreekcouncil.org. Thank you!

Western Pearlshell Mussels

Those of you who hike, walk dogs, or birdwatch along sections Putah Creek may be familiar with the small white clam shells that litter sections of the creek bottom and creekside trails. The shells are from an invasive Asian clam called Corbicula fluminea.  But on a recent canoe trip down a section of lower Putah Creek, in about two feet of water, I noticed a larger white pearl-colored shell which was easily five times bigger than the Asian clam shells. I had just found the beautiful and fragile shell of -- not a clam -- but the native Western Pearlshell mussel, Margaritifera falcata.

Western Pearlshell mussels can be found from California to Alaska, and east into Wyoming.  Like all mollusks, they are filter feeders, consuming plankton, algae and bacteria. They thrive in cool, clean freshwater creeks, preferring undisturbed flatwater and eddies with gravel, sand and boulder bottoms. When they are protected from high water flows and other disturbances, they can live 50 to 60 years or more. Construction of dams, agricultural runoff, sedimentation, erosion, contamination from mining, introduction of nonnative fish, and other disturbances have caused a significant population decline in most areas of their native range.  In Putah Creek, Pearlshells thrive in the clean, cool creek waters (45º F to 50º F) above Lake Berryessa, and can be found below the dams, sometimes as far east as the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.

A large shell like this one, which measures four inches, means Western Pearlshell mussels are finding suitable habitat to grow and mature and thrive for many many many years in lower Putah Creek. This is very exciting news from a creek restoration point of view!  

 

Although they are not a listed species under the Federal or State Endangered Species Acts, handling of the mussels and their shells, also called “take,” is protected under State scientific collecting permit requirements.

Native Plant of the Month: Western Goldenrod

Western goldenrod (Euthamia occidentalis) is a multiple-stemmed forb (herbaceous flowering plant other than a grass or sedge) that grows in abundance along the moist edges of Putah Creek. Its otherwise unobtrusive form begins to stand out among the verdant edges of Putah Creek and other local waterways during this time of year - between July and November - when it bursts into bloom, producing a bountiful bouquet of yellow blossoms at the top of each plant.

Western goldenrod loves water; it grows throughout California and the western United States in marshes, meadows, and along streambanks and irrigation ditches at elevations below 7,500 feet. Spreading vegetatively via rhizomes (underground stems), it is able to form colonies with well developed root systems. This and its tolerance to salinity and clay soils make it a valuable plant for streambank stabilization and erosion control projects.

Western goldenrod lends biodiversity and important pollinator habitat to restoration projects, providing a source of late season nectar for native bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

A decoction, or extract, of the root was taken by the Chippewa and Ojibwa Indians as a treatment for chest pain and lung trouble. Some sources report that the leaves of various goldenrod species may also function as an antiseptic.

Keep an eye out for the bright yellow of Western goldenrod during your late summer visits to the banks of Putah Creek!

(Header photo ©2015 Andrey Zharkikh)

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Become a Docent!

This image shows a Lake Solano Docent leading visitors in a discussion.Do you love Putah Creek? Nature? Helping people learn about the outdoors?

Share that passion with others as a volunteer Docent! Putah Creek Council is operating two Docent Programs this fall: one at Lake Solano Park in Winters, and the other at the South Fork Preserve in Davis. Both programs train members of the public in local ecology, natural resource interpretation, and familiarize them with Putah Creek history and management. These volunteer docents lead tours, public events, and operate pop-up "nature centers" to help visitors learn more about the treasure that is Putah Creek. 

Both programs will have a Fall 2018 training series to bring new docents on board. Before committing to a full training, we ask that interested persons attend an information session about the program(s) that they are interested in. 

Lake Solano Park: Docents at this site lead an array of events, ranging from canoe tours and campfire programs to nature walks and portable nature centers. Information sessions are offered at the Lake Solano Park Nature Center (8685 Pleasants Valley Road, Winters) on the following dates:

South Fork Preserve: Docents at this site lead nature walks, pop-up nature centers, citizen science outings, and other public events. Information sessions are offered at the South Fork Preserve (28875 County Road 104, Davis) on the following dates:

Please contact Karin Young, Putah Creek Council Education Program Manager, with any questions: karin@putahcreekcouncil.org / 530-795-3006.

Background: Lower Putah Creek Restoration Planning

BACKGROUND

This is not the first planning effort focused on Lower Putah Creek. In 1986, the University of California, Davis (U.C. Davis) finalized its first management plan for the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve. The goal of protecting and enhancing the riparian and aquatic ecosystems of Lower Putah Creek were identified at that time. That plan was significantly updated with the 2005 Putah Creek Riparian Reserve Management Plan which has a primary goal of maintaining and enhancing the ecosystem health of the creek.

In 1991, lobbying by Putah Creek Council and others convinced then-Congressman Vic Fazio to include an appropriation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to develop a resource management plan for the entire creek below Monticello Dam. The resulting document - August 1993 Fish and Wildlife Resource Management Options for Lower Putah Creek, California by the USFWS, Ecological Services Field Office - focused on the issues affecting the protection, restoration, and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources on Lower Putah Creek and recommended managment options to protect and improve the creek's resources. As part of the project, public scoping workshops were conducted in the fall of 1991 in both Davis and Winters to identify planning issues. The USFWS recommended measures to enhance fish and wildlife along the creek that included:

  • increased flows and release schedules to benefit native fishes, spawning gravels, and riparian vegetation

  • invasive weed removal

  • improving the continuity of the riparian habitat within the creek channel

  • establishing native perennial bunchgrass and oak savannah on upland areas

  • physical improvements to the creek channel, including excavating low-flow channels

  • establishment of a monitoring and research program

Some of the above measures have already been accomplished and some are ongoing. 

The next comprehensive planning effort for Lower Putah Creek began in 2005 with the Watershed Management Action Plan (WMAP). The WMAP provided a blueprint for actions to protect and enhance resources in the Lower Putah Creek watershed. The first phase of the WMAP involved doing Resource Assessments and producing a  Map Volume.  After the resource assessments were complete, the second phase of the WMAP evaluated opportunities and constraints for improving the creek, established goals and objectives, and recommended project ideas. The second phase of the WMAP in 2006 included community meetings in Winters to develop guiding principles for the process and also working groups of stakeholders for in-depth discussions and identification of criteria to select future projects. When this phase of the WMAP planning was done, the LPCCC issued a Report to the Community with a list of prioritized projects. The third phase of the WMAP was the implementation phase and the resulting 2008 Proposed Projects report. It has been used for the past nine years by the LPCCC, creek landowners and land managers, and stakeholders to identify and implement creek improvement projects to restore and enhance the lower Putah Creek watershed to a more self-sustaining ecological condition.

2016-2019 LOWER PUTAH CREEK RESTORATION PLANNING PROJECT

In September 2015, the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee (LPCCC) applied for a watershed restoration planning grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Watershed Restoration Grant Program, which is funded by the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1). Prop 1 authorized the Legislature to appropriate funds to CDFW to fund multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects and planning efforts. The LPCCC planning grant proposal was awarded funding in January, 2016 and a contract for the project was in place by mid-September, 2016 (CDFW Watershed Restoration Grant Program Grant # P1696004). This planning grant/project will have a significant amount of public outreach and engagement so that future habitat enhancement projects on Lower Putah Creek are scientifically sound and community-supported.

To stay informed about this project, enter your name and email at the following link so we can keep in touch: Lower Putah Creek Restoration Planning Email List

2017 Putah Creek Cleanup

On September 16, 2017, volunteers came together on California Coastal Cleanup Day to clean 5,512 pounds of trash and recyclables from Putah Creek.

Putah Creek Council downsized our cleanup footprint in 2017, from two main gathering hubs in previous years to only one Winters location this year. This did not dampen the spirit and turnout of enthusiastic creek stewards - 143 volunteers joined us to help clean litter from about 5 miles of Putah Creek and Dry Creek waterways, floodplains, and roadsides, properly disposing of over 4000 lb of trash and almost 1500 lb of recyclables. We saw fewer mattresses, electronics, and appliances this year, but we discovered that tires, spray paint cans, cigarette butts, beverage bottles, and food wrappers are still dreadfully common along Putah Creek. The most unusual items collected this year included a bottle of stage blood, a hot tub, and lots of clothing - 108 pieces! 

Check out photos of the 2017 Putah Creek Cleanup at this link: 2017 Putah Creek Cleanup photos

2016 Putah Creek Cleanup

 
On California Coastal Cleanup Day 2016 - September 17 - 165 enthusiastic creek stewards helped clean trash from 7.7 miles of Putah Creek waterway, floodplain, and roadsides. Volunteers cleared the creek and properly disposed of 1200 lb of recyclables and 3100 lb of non-recyclable trash, including mattresses, electronics, appliances, tires, spray paint cans and over 1000 cigarette butts. The most unusual items collected this year included a turntable, a toilet, an iron skillet, and a concrete lawn statue. 
 
You can view photos of the the Putah Creek Cleanup at the following links: Davis sitesWinters sites

Join Us for Putah Creek Cleanup Day 2018!

It's time to give Putah Creek a facelift! Please join us for Putah Creek Cleanup Day 2018, on Saturday, September 15th, 9 am - 12 noon

Putah Creek Council is celebrating 30 years of coordinating cleanups on Putah Creek. Since our first cleanup in 1988, a generation of supporters has helped remove large legacy dumps and continued to help clean and properly discard of tens of thousands of pounds of trash along Putah Creek over the last three decades. Garbage continues to find its way into Putah Creek annually, damaging wildlife habitat, polluting our water, and making visits to Putah Creek unpleasant for visitors. Fortunately, 100 or more Putah Creek enthusiasts join us each year to participate in this local cleanup effort, the Council’s largest environmental stewardship event of the year. 

Since 2004, we have held our annual Putah Creek Cleanup in partnership with the California Coastal Commission on California Coastal Cleanup Day, which also coincides with International Coastal Cleanup Day. Volunteers participating on September 15 will be part of the largest single-day volunteer event on the planet!

Thanks to generous funding from the Solano County Water Agency and the City of Winters, Putah Creek Council will coordinate several cleanup crews at sites on Putah Creek from Stevenson Bridge to Winters Putah Creek Nature Park. 

Registration for the cleanup is required. Please register at this link: 2018 Putah Creek Cleanup Day Registration.

On the morning of the cleanup, we will gather in Rotary Park in Winters. Cleanup sites include Stevenson Bridge in Davis, Winters Putah Creek Nature Park, Putah Creek Road from Railroad Avenue to downstream of the I-505 overcrossing, and Dry Creek.

Because we need to have the correct amount of supplies and extra water at each site and also provide lunch after the cleanup, we ask that all participants register in advance.

We hope to see you this year at the Cleanup! 

Native Plant of the Month: Mugwort

With a name like “Mugwort”, one may not really expect much from our native Artemisia douglasiana. And although it has bright yellow flowers, the tiny flower heads are not really showy being somewhat sparsely distributed along thin upright spikes and often obscured by the bluish green/grey sepals, leaves, and stems. In a large robust Mugwort, these flowering clusters emerge from a 3-4 foot high multi-stemmed shrub found along riparian corridors at lower altitudes (below 6,000 feet). It is distributed throughout most of California and is fairly common along Putah Creek where it grows in moist or dry soils of sunny forested or grassland areas.

The Mugwort can be a nice addition as a drought tolerant native landscape shrub as it is fairly easy to grow from seed or from rhizomes and it can spread to fill space. It is a good plant for wildlife where as a shrub it can provide cover, nectar for pollinators, seeds for birds, and its leaves are food for a number of butterfly and moth species.

And don’t let the lackluster name Mugwort be misleading because the indigenous people found the essential oils in its fragrant leaves helpful to repel insects and there were many medicinal uses. In fact, beyond our borders, our native Mugwort is in good company because the genus Artemisia is well known with hundreds of species found world-wide. It has a variety of uses including for decorative garden plants, consumption in teas, producing the alcoholic beverage absinthe, used against intestinal worms, and notably has become a standard treatment against malaria.

Header photo ©2006 Stonebird CC BY-SA 2.0

Body photo ©2002 Lynn Watson

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Winters Nature Park Extension Project (2018-2021)

Background
In 2017, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) deeded a 5-acre parcel of land to the City of Winters (City) to use as public open space. The property, located within the City limits, is between the PG&E Gas Training Academy, a large privately-owned parcel to the west, and Putah Creek. The parcel was modified to serve as a stormwater drainage canal for a small area of adjacent land. Before transfer of ownership, PG&E constructed a private access road and walking path around the canal, seeded a mix of native California perennial grasses in the canal and installed irrigation valves for future plantings. The City has asked Putah Creek Council (Council) to propose a project to enhance the site for wildlife habitat and community use as public open space. Its location directly adjacent to Putah Creek provides a valuable opportunity to restore upland habitat and build on the educational activities and interpretive features planned for the Winters Putah Creek Nature Park, as well as extend the Putah Creek Nature Park and connect it to the walking path along CA Highway 128.

Goals
The goal of the Putah Creek Nature Park Extension Project (Park Extension) is to convert a parcel consisting of a stormwater drainage canal and former farmland into oak woodland and upland riparian habitat, which will support a diverse array of wildlife and serve as an open space for Winters residents. In addition, this project will increase opportunities for active and passive environmental education, primarily in the form of facilitated student projects and interpretive signage. The site will be planted with a dominant overstory of Valley oak (Quercus lobata), and will include interior live oak (Q. wislizeni), western redbud (Cercis occidentalis), toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) coffeeberry (Frangula californica), California buckeye (Aesculus californica), California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica), and an understory of native perennial grasses. The upland riparian strip will be planted with Valley oak, California buckeye, western sycamore (Platanus racemosa) with an understory of California wild rose (Rosa californica), California pipevine (Aristolochia californica), California grape (Vitis californica), and native perennial grasses. The pollinator garden will be dominated by perennial and annual flowering plants, with an overstory of pollinator-friendly shrubs such as coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis), toyon, and skunk bush (Rhus aromatica).

A significant component of this project will be active environmental education of student groups participating in restoration activities during field trips to the project site. The Park Extension will host student groups ranging from elementary to high school, facilitating student learning about concepts such as native flora and fauna, restoration practices, and ethnobotanical uses of native plants. Additionally, the Park Extension will be included in a broader park-wide plan of installing interpretive features designed to educate visitors about concepts such as pollinator use of featured plants, water quality, native flora and fauna, and the natural history of this region. This site will include two interpretive panels, with an intent of increasing the number of panels throughout the park as additional funding is secured. These panels and other signs will complement future educational activities.

2018 Putah Creek Cleanup

On California Coast and Creek Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 15, Putah Creek Council celebrated our 30th year of hosting cleanups along Putah Creek. This year, 130 volunteers removed 3,225 pounds of trash and recyclables from Putah Creek's channel, floodplains, nearby roads, and a tributary in Yolo and Solano Counties. Volunteers picked up a total of 6,393 pieces of trash, and the most common types found along the creek this year were cigarette butts (1,218), beverage bottles (735), and food wrappers (731). A special group of volunteers was deployed to remove stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens), an up-and-coming invasive weed, from areas in Winters Putah Creek Nature Park. Participants in the Putah Creek Cleanup were treated to a lunch of burritos provided by Putah Creek Council and watermelon donated by Pedrick Produce in Dixon. Volunteers were entered into a raffle of items donated by nearby businesses, including Steady Eddy's, Putah Creek Cafe, Pacific Ace Hardware, Mike's Velo City, Mariani Nut Company, Putah Creek Crawdads, Clayground, Cloth Carousel, and Jennifer LoPolito. 

Special thanks to the Yolo County Central Landfill and Recology Vacaville for providing dumpsters and waiving landfill fees, and to the Solano County Water Agency and City of Winters for sponsoring the 2018 Putah Creek Cleanup.

We hope to see you again next year!

2018 Putah Creek Cleanup a Success

Putah Creek Council would like to thank the Putah Creek Cleanup Day volunteers and sponsors for their hard work and support at an energetic and productive day of community stewardship on September 15.

Led by an experienced group of site captain volunteers, a total of 130 Yolo and Solano County residents, students, scouts, and visiting scholars helped remove and properly dispose of 3,225 pounds of trash and recyclables from 3.5 miles of Putah Creek waterway, floodplain, and adjacent roadsides. Cleanup sites included Dry Creek tributary, Winters Putah Creek Park, Putah Creek Road, Stevenson Bridge, and parts of downtown Winters. This was a coordinated effort between Putah Creek Council, the California Coastal Cleanup, and the International Coastal Cleanup. This year’s Putah Creek participants joined with over 53,000 California volunteers and almost 800,000 globally in a single-day effort to clean 400 tons of garbage from California’s waterways, and over 10,000 tons from around the world.

Interestingly, the top three items collected at the Putah Creek Cleanup reflect the top three most common items collected in cleanups around the world - cigarette butts, food wrappers, and beverage bottles. Although cigarette butts are the most common form of litter in the world, they are not biodegradable, and can leach toxic and carcinogenic chemicals into the environment for years. We are grateful for the thorough effort Putah Creek Cleanup volunteers made this year to remove 1,218 cigarette butts from Putah Creek. Some of the most interesting items picked up were a horse harness, a boat, and a car window. A special group of volunteers even focused on removing invasive plant species, or “biological pollution,” from the floodplain to prevent them from displacing valuable wildlife habitat.

After the cleanup, volunteers were served lunch and enjoyed a raffle featuring items donated from local businesses and individuals. We would like to thank the following for their generous support: Steady Eddy’s, The Clayground, Pacific Ace Hardware, Putah Creek Cafe, Mariani Nut Company, Putah Creek Crawdads, Cloth Carousel, Mike’s Velo City, and Jennifer Lopolito. Steady Eddy's even created a special "Putah Creek blend" coffee to commemorate the occasion! Additionally, we would like to thank Pedrick Produce for donating the delicious watermelons, and Recology for donating waste and recycle bins for this event. We are especially grateful to the Solano County Water Agency and the City of Winters, whose sponsorship made this event possible.

Putah Creek Cleanup Day is held on the third Saturday in September every year. Please join us next year or contact Putah Creek Council for more information.

 

Call for Education Volunteers

An education volunteer leads students on a hike.Putah Creek Council is hosting special training opportunities for new and returning members of the Education Team. The Putah Creek Council Education Team is a group of diverse and talented leaders who work with our staff at environmental education field trips and help connect students to Putah Creek. Education Team volunteers commit to a year-long leadership role within Putah Creek Council. They act as instructors and guides on elementary- and middle-school field trips, help with in-class lessons and assemblies, and are a crucial component in the Council’s mission to educate the community about Putah Creek. 

Four training opportunities are offered for those looking to make a difference in the environmental awareness of local youth. Trainings will take place at the Putah Creek Council office (107 Main Street, Winters) on the following dates/times:

After registering for a training event, you will receive a questionnaire and staff will check in with you about program details and any questions you may have.

Students feel an otter skull.

Education Team applicants must be willing to commit to attending at least three education events per year. They must be at least 18 years old, provide their own transportation, and be willing to work in all types of weather and terrain conditions.

If you are interested in joining Putah Creek Council’s Education Team and attending a training event, please register using the links above. If you have any questions, please call Karin Young at 530-795-3006 or email karin@putahcreekcouncil.org.

Native Plant of the Month: Wild Licorice

Many of us have memories or still enjoy eating licorice, but may not know it comes from a plant or the history behind it. Our native licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota) can be found throughout most of temperate North America (except the southeast) from Canada down into Mexico. The American “Wild licorice” species has properties similar to its relatives who are found worldwide where it has been used as flavorings and sweeteners in candy, foods, and medicinally in most cultures where its uses are described in some of the world’s ancient texts.

All parts of our Wild licorice were used medicinally for a diversity of ailments by many native North American tribes, including coughs, fever and chewed for toothaches or by infants during teething. The plant contains a substance called Glycyrrhizin (named for the genus) that is 50 times sweeter than sugar where the highest concentration is found in the root. When slow roasted the long, sweet, fleshy roots are said to taste like sweet potatoes.

Wild licorice is a perennial growing up to 3 ft that produces conspicuous clusters of attractive bright yellowish to white flower clusters that are pollinated by insects during the late summer. As with most plants in the Pea family, Wild licorice forms a seed pod. The small pods of this species are covered with many stout, hooked, brown spines which cling to animal fur and help move the seeds to new sites (called Epichory). The roots have nitrogen fixing nodules which help to enrich the soil.

The “Wild licorice” (Glycyrrhiza lepidota), is found across much of North America in sandy loam soils. Found mostly in temperate climates worldwide, our native licorice has the same properties which gave rise to the popular candy licorice and it has been used by most cultures including North American tribes as a food flavoring and medicinally for many ailments. As a member of the Pea family, its attractive bright yellowish-white flower clusters attract pollinators, makes a “pea” pod, and its roots improve the soil by fixing atmospheric nitrogen.

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South Fork Preserve Docent Program

This image shows Putah Creek flowing through the South Fork Preserve.*Sign up to attend South Fork Preserve docent-led events on our Events Calendar*

Putah Creek Council manages a volunteer Docent program for the South Fork Preserve, a City of Davis Open Space site along Putah Creek at Mace Blvd. This site offers quiet creek vistas, meandering creekside trails, and diverse habitat types for visitors to explore. 

Volunteer Docents are recruited and trained twice throughout the year. Public programs are offered in two four-month series each year, during which at least one event is held per month. 

This table shows the progression of public programs, training, and recruitment periods throughout a calendar year.

What's a Docent?
A docent is a trained guide who conducts tours, leads guided walks, or otherwise helps the public understand the park's resources and opportunities. Docents are volunteers who donate their time and skills toward improving visitors' experience and enjoyment of the South Fork Preserve. 

What is expected of South Fork Preserve Docents?
Docents commit to assisting with three events per year at the South Fork Preserve. At the start of their Docent service, new members attend a series of training events and complete a background check. Continuing Docents are encouraged to attend training events to help refresh knowledge as they lead interpretive events. Docents must be eager to learn and eager to share their knowledge, and willing to abide by City of Davis policies.

If you are interested in joining as a Docent, we invite you to attend an upcoming Info Session! Visit our calendar to find the next info session & training dates. Please email Karin Young (karin AT putahcreekcouncil.org) for more information. 

Education Team

This image shows students investigating a river otter skin.Putah Creek Council's Education Team is one of our most impactful groups: they help us connect local youth to nature, forming a solic background in environmental literacy that will be crucial as this generation becomes our leaders. 

With growing concern about "Nature Deficit Disorder," environmental education has never been so important. Education Team members multiple the effectiveness of Putah Creek Council staff by assisting with our education field trips. Working with staff, they lead students in activities that engage all learners in nature exploration, scientific inquiry, and forming a deeper relationship with Putah Creek. The Education Team members come from all backgrounds, but each member is enthusiastic about connecting kids to nature. 

The Education Team is how we're able to reach 2,000+ students annually with only a few staff. Their impact will reach long past a single field trip!

Education Team volunteers commit to a year-long leadership position within Putah Creek Council. They attend an annual general training as well as program-specific training opportunities to be well-prepared for field trips, in-class assemblies, and other programs. 

Are you interested in becoming an Education Team member? See details below. If you prefer to attend events as a community volunteer, we welcome you, too! Find upcoming events on our calendar

Education Team members must:

  • attend annual training day (details below)
  • commit to assisting with at least three education events per year
  • be at least 18 years of age 
  • be able to provide own transportation to and from events
  • be willing to work outside in all types of weather and terrain

Our annual training includes:

  • an overview of Putah Creek Council history, mission and current projects
  • introduction into how Putah Creek Council runs field trip programs
  • basics of scientific inquiry activities
  • behavior management and student coaching strategies
  • helpful techniques for interpreting the natural world to chaperones and creek visitors, and
  • social gatherings and continuing education events to never stop learning.

If you are interested in joining Putah Creek Council’s Education Team, please call Karin Young at 530-795-3006 or email karin@putahcreekcouncil.org.

Channel Realignment Project Nearing Completion in Winters Putah Creek Nature Park

The final phases of the channel realignment project in Winters Putah Creek Nature Park are almost complete! Started in 2011, the Putah Creek River Parkways project was designed to narrow the low-flow channel along approximately one mile of creek, cut fill from steep banks, and move it into a form such that the creek now has a walkable riparian area, functional floodplain, and improved wildlife habitat.  After several years’ delay, work began in early September on the Phase III section, situated in the middle of the park between Phases I and II; and Phase IV, situated between the downstream end of phase II and I-505. In Phase III, the creek is now flowing through a smaller, faster-flowing channel that aligns with the meandering flow of the channel in adjacent phases, and portions of the old creek channel are now a pond-like backwater section. This variety of habitat types will support a wider array of wildlife species. For instance, Western pond turtles (Emyss marmorata) can be observed sunning themselves on logs in the backwater, and Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) can take advantage of the cooler temperatures, gravelly substrate, and faster flowing water of the main channel to build redds and spawn successfully.

Winters students and community volunteers with Putah Creek Council, as well as interns at the Solano County Water Agency have been working together to install hundreds of trees, vines, sedges, grasses, and other perennial flowering plants along the banks of the creek. These plants will initially help with bank stabilization by rooting into the soil during the first rainy season. As they mature into a multi-tiered and complex riparian forest, they will provide valuable wildlife habitat for years to come.

We encourage the community to visit Winters Putah Creek Nature Park to see this habitat enhancement project as it progresses, or get involved by signing up to help at a planting event on our Event Calendar. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Chinook salmon as they make their way up the creek this month to spawn!

 

Native Plant of the Month: Bigleaf Maple

This image shows a bigleaf maple leaf with a hand for comparison,A hike along the Putah Creek Cold Canyon trail at this time of year may give you a glimpse of beautiful fall colored leaves from our Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) where both the common and the scientific name hint at the size of its massive leaves which are the largest of any maple measuring nearly 12 inches (15-30cm) across. The trunk can be up to 3 feet in diameter (~1m) and it can grow up to 115 feet (35m) in height. As a moisture loving tree, it grows in sandy/loamy soils in moist canyons or bordering streams. It can be found predominantly adhering to drainages along the Pacific Coast from southern California to southern Alaska with a few isolated inland stands in mountainous regions in California and Idaho. 

Commercially, this maple produces a good quality hardwood, but it is not typically harvested in California where it grows among other coastal tree species that have higher value. Native Americans used the fibrous inner bark to make baskets and clothing. Many parts of the tree are edible for humans including the inner bark, leaves, seeds and sap. Although the sugar content of the sap in the Bigleaf Maple rivals that of its relative the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharrhum), it has not been commercially tapped. It is a relatively fast growing tree and does have beautiful fall colors, but its large size and high water needs might not make it practical for use in water-conscious landscaping in the lower Putah Creek region. 

The change in leaf color is caused when the tree begins to prepare for winter by shutting down the green chloroplasts associated with food production, a process called "senescence". As the senescence process progresses, the chlorophyll begins to break down and the fading green color allows red and yellow colors to appear. If you are up for a nature hike and would like to see one of these trees for yourself, it may be easiest to find while it is producing fall colors (right about now) where it grows along the Cold Canyon trail below the Lake Berryessa dam.   

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Changes Afoot at the Putah Creek Nursery

Recent visitors and community volunteers at the Putah Creek Nursery may have noticed buildings disappearing, new and unfamiliar equipment popping up, or the tiny mountain conifers growing alongside the other native plants in the shadehouse. These small signs together herald bigger changes underway at CAL FIRE’s Lewis A. Moran Reforestation Center, home of the Putah Creek Nursery.

Through an innovative partnership begun in 2011 between the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee, Putah Creek Council, and CAL FIRE, the Putah Creek Nursery was provided the use of equipment and unused nursery space at the L. A. Moran Reforestation Center to begin operations. The nursery program has since engaged thousands of volunteers in growing tens of thousands of plants for habitat enhancement throughout the watershed. In response to a growing need for reforestation plants around the state, CAL FIRE recently began the process of renovating the L.A. Moran Reforestation Center in order to begin growing conifers again. For the Putah Creek Nursery, this means providing space for the first crop of firs and pines during nursery construction, and more importantly, moving out of the beloved glass house during its renovation.

Temporarily losing access to the facility where most of the nursery plants begin their lives presents both logistical challenges and opportunities. Rich Marovich, the Putah Creek Streamkeeper, identified the opportunity, quickly moving to secure three large hoop houses to serve as the nursery’s home away from home. Solano County Water Agency and Putah Creek Council staff, interns, and volunteers enthusiastically met the challenge, traveling to Copperopolis, CA to dismantle the hoop houses and bringing them back to set up.

Dismantle began just before the Thanksgiving holiday, and installation at the CAL FIRE facility in Davis is planned for December. This project is a community effort and we encourage anyone interested in helping with hoop house construction to contact Amy Williams, Stewardship Program Manager, at amy@putahcreekcouncil.org.

The valuable interagency partnership that made the Putah Creek Nursery possible continues to evolve, and we look forward to the new possibilities that having two active nurseries at the L.A. Moran Reforestation Center will present!  

Photo 1: Stewardship Team member Rich Hein helps unscrew thousands of parts on a hoop house.

Photos 2: Solano County Water Agency staff and interns work to take down the large "hoops" on a hoop house.

 

Native Plant of the Month: American Dogwood

This image shows the white berries of an American Dogwood.American Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is fairly common along streams in this area and can be found growing along Putah Creek in both the upper and lower watershed. It has a wide distribution from California, north to Alaska, throughout the country to the eastern United States, and south to Mexico, where it generally grows at elevations below 9,000 feet in soils that are saturated during some portion of the year .

As a deciduous shrub the  American Dogwood grows 5’ to 13’ tall with dark green leaves paired opposite each other along its branches. During flowering,  June – August, many tiny, cream colored flowers form dome-shaped inflorescences (flower heads), which then go on to produce clusters of white berries.

Historically, this plant was used extensively by many indigenous tribes to meet a diversity of needs for medicinal uses for treating skin ailments, stomach disorders, and even assisting childbirth. The berries were eaten, the inner bark and stems were used for basketry, making dyes or mixed in as a flavoring for smoking tobaccos.

The American Dogwood can be an attractive landscape shrub where it is often planted as an ornamental, as a windbreak, and to attract wildlife. It provides a source of pollen and nectar to native bees and the leaves serve as a host plant for other insects. A wide variety of birds eat the berries, and small to large mammals browse the twigs, foliage, and fruit. Its thick shrubby form provides cover for wildlife and nesting habitat for songbirds. The fruit ripens in late summer, and besides being available through the fall, some of the berries may persist on the plants well into the winter months. In the autumn, its leaves put on a fall color display just before revealing its decorative reddish branches for the winter. It can be propagated from seeds, root divisions, layering, and cuttings. It is a “thirsty” plant so it does require regular watering.

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Job Announcement: WaterWays Assistant (2019)

2/4/2019 Update: Hiring for this position has concluded. Thank you for your interest!

Putah Creek Council is hiring 4-5 program assistants for the upcoming WaterWays environmental education program. 

These are part-time, seasonal positions primarily working on field trips and in-class lesson programs during January - June.

Please see the job description (with application) at this link, and contact Education Program Manager Karin Young with any questions: karin (at) putahcreekcouncil.org. Thank you!

2019 South Fork Preserve Docent Training

Do you love spending time outdoors? Learn more about the nature that surrounds us and share that magic with others as a South Fork Preserve Docent. Putah Creek Council manages a docent program at the City of Davis’ South Fork Preserve property, training volunteer docents and hosting events to improve the visitor experience.

The South Fork Preserve is located on Mace Blvd. and offers stunning creek views, paths to traverse the riparian corridor, and an opportunity to replace the city buzz with that of pollinators and overhead birds. For more information about the new docent program, join Putah Creek Council staff at an upcoming information session to learn more.

Two meetings will be held at the Mary L. Stephens Davis Branch Library Small Conference Room (in the Children's Section), 315 E. 14th Street, Davis on Monday, January 7, 2019 and Wednesday, January 16, 2019, both from 5:15 PM - 6:00 PM.

Find more details and register via the links above or at www.putahcreekcouncil.org, or by calling the Putah Creek Council office at 530-795-3006.

Native Plant of the Month: Toyon

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is an awesome easy-to-grow native shrub, which at 6-10 feet tall and wide can fill a large garden space with year round beauty. This evergreen shrub not only provides winter food and shelter for wildlife but it can also help brighten the holiday season when it has large clusters of bright red winter “Christmas” berries that can be used as holiday accents. During the summer it produces large clusters of white flowers that serve as a good source of nectar for bees and attract a host of other insect species. And the berries were also used as food and drink by the Native Americans of California.

Toyon is common on semi-dry slopes of the foothills from Southern California north to Humboldt Ccounty, and in the Sierra Nevada Range. Toyon does well in gardens as a large screening shrub, hedge, or topiary. It needs full sun and ample space and is fairly drought tolerant. It can be found growing in mixed riparian forest, riparian scrub, and valley oak riparian forest.

(Photo credit: Jason Hollinger, CC-BY 2.0)

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Native Plant of the Month: White Alder

The White Alder (Alnus rhombifolia) can be found dropping its tiny winged seeds along the banks of Putah Creek during the winter months when it and most other trees are dormant. The seeds emerge from a small structure that superficially resembles a small conifer cone that hangs on all winter long after the tree has dropped its leaves during the fall. This medium-sized deciduous tree grows up to 30–40 feet and grows in riparian corridors throughout California below 6,000 ft. 

Soon after the seeds have fallen, the plant begins its next cycle by producing male and female catkins that are anemophilous (wind pollinated).  

Capable of growing at the water’s edge, white alder is valuable for stream restoration where it stabilizes banks and floodplains and often grows among a mix of riparian species. When it overhangs the water, its branches and leaves provide shade that help to keep the water cool and provide cover for wildlife while its roots create aquatic structure below the water’s surface. Its roots also fix nitrogen, making this important nutrient available for other plants and animals in the ecosystem.

Native Americans use the tree medicinally, in basketry (roots), as arrow shafts (shoots), for dyes, and its wood is still used for smoking meats.

Tree photo credit: Jordan Zylstra
Catkin/cone photo credit: 2007 Eugene Zelenko, CC BY-SA 4.0
 
 
 

Native Plant of the Month: Gooddings Willow

Goodding's Black Willow (Salix gooddingii) is a common native tree that grows along wetlands throughout California at elevations from sea level to 2,000 feet. It grows in a wide variety of locations, from the south coast to the Central Valley and even extends into perennial streams in desert areas. It tolerates some alkalinity and salinity as well as generally poor water quality. It can form streamside thickets as it matures where it can eventually grow to a height of 15-40 feet, forming part of the riparian forest canopy. It has green flowers that bloom in the early spring, quickly followed by a profusion of lance-shaped deciduous leaves. The flowers of willows are dioecious, with seed- and pollen-producing flowers found on separate plants.

Willows in general have an intricate and valuable relationship with wildlife. They provide nectar, pollen, leaves, woody stems, branches and leaves for food, shelter, and nesting habitat for wildlife. Because of the potential for Gooddings willow to become a relatively large tree, its contribution to ecosystem restoration make it all the more valuable, a value that extends to both past and modern human uses. Native Americans used this willow to make baskets, bird cages, fish traps, bows, and cradles. The bark was eaten raw or cooked and the leaves were steeped to make a tea. The family of plants that Gooddings willow belongs to, Salicaceae, is named for the active ingredient for pain relief in aspirin, salicylic acid, which is derived from willows. Gooddings willow is named after Leslie Newton Goodding (1880 – 1967) an American botanist who was considered an expert in the flora of the Southwestern United States.

Due to its size and water requirements, this is not a common garden tree but is very useful in restoration projects, bioswales, and other wetlands. Willows can be propagated easily from cuttings and seed but the seeds are only viable for a few weeks.

(Photo credit 2008 Stan Shebs CC BY-SA 3.0)
 

Native Plant of the Month: Sticky Monkey-Flower

The bush monkey-flower or sticky monkey-flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), recently changed to (Diplacus aurantiacus), is a flowering perennial shrub that is native mostly to California but edges north just into southwestern Oregon and south slightly into Baja, Mexico. It grows up to 1.2 meters tall, has deep green sticky leaves with flowering stems that grow vertically. The tubular flowers are about an inch long which can be almost white or colored  salmon, through orange and bronze, to deep red. With some imagination you may be able to see a monkey face in the flower.
 
Reportedly, the native american tribe Kumeyaay used monkey-flower primarily for medicinal purposes, from poultices for burns and wounds to treatments for colds, coughs, flus, stomach disorders and heart ailments. Some native Americans used the young stems and leaves of monkeyflower for salad greens. 
 
It is a valuable wildlife plant pollinated by bees and hummingbirds and it also serves as a host plant for the larvae of the common buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) and the variable checkerspot (Euphydryas chalcedona). The stigmas are notably sensitive and will close after being touched (termed "seismonastic movement") and is thought to aid in pollination.

As a garden plant, the monkey flower is an attractive pollinator-friendly plant that is deer resistant and has low water requirements. It can be grown from seed or cuttings. It has a long flowering period that can extend through spring and summer seasons. It is able to grow in variable climates and will thrive in many types of soil, wet, dry, sandy, or rocky and it even grows in serpentine soils that are challenging for most plants because of its unique mineral composition.  

Photo: Sticky Monkey-Flower Mimulus aurantiacus: Flickr NatureShutterbug

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2019 One Creek | Putah Creek Summer Internship

The 2019 Putah Creek summer interns have completed another fun and successful year.

Now in its seventh year, Putah Creek Council has offered hands-on training in habitat restoration and plant propagation to students and community members interested in pursuing careers in conservation. In the One Creek | Putah Creek Summer Restoration Internship Program, interns from Putah Creek Council, the U.C. Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve (UCD), and the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) work together at a native plant nursery and at multiple project sites in the Putah Creek watershed. Working with experts in habitat restoration, native plant landscaping, outdoor recreation management, native plant propagation, and nursery operations, interns are offered an introduction to and receive basic hands-on experience in these career paths.

Internships are a valuable way to gain job skills, learn about a profession, receive mentorship, and be part of an important local community effort. Interns who successfully complete their internship receive a stipend.

This years’ Internship program ran from 8:30-11:30 AM  18 June - 14 August; on Tuesdays, we met at the native plant nursery in South Davis, and on Wednesdays, we meet at various restoration sites in Yolo and Solano Counties with Putah Creek Council partners. The Interns typically work under the supervision of Putah Creek Council staff where they get hands on experience with plant care and planting, but also gain knowledge and experience from meeting and working alongside other regional restoration professionals. They are also challenged with opportunities for developing individual leadership skills and to understand the value of working as a team. Their response to the program was incredible and we thank them all for helping us move multiple programs forward. Fare thee well 2019 interns, more than ever we need you to succeed!

This years' participants offered these words to keep us motivated:

"The one creek internship was a really enjoyable and valuable experience. I was almost constantly learning, from plant ID to restoration practices to general job skills. It's also a great way to gain job experience related to natural resources and introduce oneself to career paths in the field."

"I want to thank you guys so much for being awesome leaders! This is a great program with a lot of work put into it and I will definitely recommend it to others."

If you are interested in learning more, watch for the announcements for next year’s program or email Brian Keeley, Putah Creek Council Stewardship Program Manager, at brian@putahcreekcouncil.org, or call: 530-795-3006.

2018 Putah Creek Spring Cleanup

Thank you to the wonderful group of volunteers who came together on Saturday, April 14 to give Putah Creek a spring cleaning. Together we removed hundreds of pounds of trash, including a drone, two tires, a down comforter in the creek channel, a hatchet, two transformers, a hubcap, hundreds of cigarette butts, and hundreds of pounds of metal deposited in years past. Winters Putah Creek Nature Park looks amazing!

April 2019: California Pipevine, Aristolochia californica

If you are ever curious about unusual plants, California's native version of the Pipevine (Aristolochia californica) could be of interest to you. With over 500 species worldwide, it can be found in diverse habitats on almost every continent (except in polar regions) where it  can be an evergreen or a deciduous vine or even an herbaceous perennial. The California pipevine is a deciduous vine common along Putah Creek at elevations below 1,500 feet.

Pipevines have some of the world's most unusual flowers that have earned it many vernacular names like Birthwort for its shape resembling a birth canal, and other terms like Brazil's Pelican Flower, Moth-winged Birthwort, or Chilean Fox Ears. The bizarre flower has shaped not only its names but its human relationships with many different cultures. Although there is strong evidence that its medicinal uses can be lethally damaging to the kidneys for some species, Aristolochia has been used by many cultures for a variety of needs spanning childbirth to weight-loss. Regionally, the Miwok tribe used this plant as a cold remedy.

The flowers of the California pipevine have an odd odor which is attractive to tiny gnats and flies.  The plant is not insectivorous as was once thought. It is presumed that pollination occurs by deceit and that for our species, fungus gnats (Mycetophilidae) may be the most effective pollinators. Guided by stiff hairs, the insects are directed into the convoluted flowers, picking up pollen as they seek a way to exit. Eventually the flower hairs relax and the pollen-covered gnats are able to escape and spread pollen to other plants.

As a garden vine its heart-shaped leaves are quite decorative and its unusual flowers create a fascinating addition to the garden and also attracts wildlife. It is the host plant for one of our biggest butterflies, the pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor), whose caterpillars eat its toxic leaves that help protect both larvae and adults from predators. When seed pods mature, their openings have been known to attract yellowjackets; placement of this plant should take this into account. The vines spread vegetatively via rhizomes, or underground stems, and vines can reach a length of over twenty feet and can become quite thick in circumference at maturity. In the wild it will spread out over open ground or sprawl over other plants. It is shade tolerant and does prefer regular watering but it can tolerate dry spells.

 
 
 
 
Photo credit: California Pipevine (Aristolochia californica) Putah Creek Council

May 2019: Bush Monkey-Flower

Photo credit: Flickr NatureShutterbug

The bush monkey-flower or sticky monkey-flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), recently changed to (Diplacus aurantiacus), is a flowering perennial shrub that is native mostly to California but edges north just into southwestern Oregon and south slightly into Baja, Mexico. It grows up to 1.2 meters tall, has deep green sticky leaves with flowering stems that grow vertically. The tubular flowers are about an inch long which can be almost white or colored  salmon, through orange and bronze, to deep red. With some imagination you may be able to see a monkey face in the flower.
 
Reportedly, the native american tribe Kumeyaay used monkey-flower primarily for medicinal purposes, from poultices for burns and wounds to treatments for colds, coughs, flus, stomach disorders and heart ailments. Some native Americans used the young stems and leaves of monkeyflower for salad greens. 
 
It is a valuable wildlife plant pollinated by bees and hummingbirds and it also serves as a host plant for the larvae of the common buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) and the variable checkerspot (Euphydryas chalcedona). The stigmas are notably sensitive and will close after being touched (termed "seismonastic movement") and is thought to aid in pollination.
 
As a garden plant, the monkey flower is an attractive pollinator-friendly plant that is deer resistant and has low water requirements. It can be grown from seed or cuttings. It has a long flowering period that can extend through spring and summer seasons. It is able to grow in variable climates and will thrive in many types of soil, wet, dry, sandy, or rocky and it even grows in serpentine soils that are challenging for most plants because of its unique mineral composition.  
 
Photo credit: Flickr NatureShutterbug

Stewardship Team May 18, 2019 Training/Idea Sharing Event

This year the Stewardship Training/Idea Sharing Event will meet on Saturday May 18 at the Putah Creek Nursery. Most if not all of you have worked at the nursery at some time or other. For this years event we are making a few changes that emerged out of discussions from previous training sessions. The first notable change is that it will be just 1/2 a day starting at 8:30 am and capped with a lunch to end at 1pm.  
 
Many of the Stewardship Team members have enough experience to effectively train new members so we would rather focus on team building and put a little effort into identifying how the team members can engage in more specialized tasks.
 
Our plan for this Event will be to:

Spend a little time going over the Stewardship Team history and sharing current updates.

Discuss a few specialized tasks and identify who might be willing to take them on.

Do a bit of work at the nursery and on the trailer to get it back in shape for this years planting needs.

We will conclude with a lunch.

 
We will contact you with any future updates as they become available on this page.
 
We will send out a reminder as the day approaches. The nursery is located at Gate 1 of CAL FIRE's Lewis A. Moran Reforestation Center, 5800 Chiles Rd, Davis, CA 95618. It's easy to miss--it is just east of the 'La Mesa RV Center.' 

2019 CreekSpeak Series begins May 16

This image shows burnt hills above Putah Creek.CreekSpeak, Putah Creek Council’s six-month series of community talks about the nature, culture, and history of our region, begins on Thursday, May 16 with a presentation touching on the birds of Putah Creek. 

Just west of Winters, Audubon’s Bobcat Ranch has experienced multiple wildfires in the last five years – beginning with the Monticello fire in 2014. The property also is home to grazing cattle and bird research projects, a combination that sets the stage for interesting scientific revelations. Avian ecologist and UC Davis doctoral candidate Frank Fogarty has been studying the effects of the fires and cattle activity on Putah Creek’s bird communities in the aftermath of the Cold (2016) and Winters (2017) fires. Join us at this event to hear his findings and learn about how these fires have long-term and long-distance effects on local bird populations.

The presentation begins at 7pm at the Winters Community Library Margaret Parsons Room (708 Railroad Ave, Winters).

This image shows a hitch, a fish native to California.CreekSpeak events are at 7pm on the third Thursday* of the month, held at the Blanchard Room at the Mary L. Stephens Davis Branch Library (315 E. 14th Street) and the Winters Community Library Margaret Parsons Room (708 Railroad Avenue). These talks are free to Putah Creek Council members and open to the public. A $5 donation is requested from those who have not yet joined the Council.

The talks alternate between Davis and Winters on the third Thursday of the month*. Additional talks in 2019 will include:

*The July presentation will be on the third Wednesday to avoid conflict with the Winters Summer Concert series.

June 2019: Narrow Leaf Milkweed

Photo Credit: Charles E. Jones

Narrow Leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) is a flowering perennial herb that is found throughout the Western United States. It grows up to 1 meter tall, and has deep green leaves that can be whorled around the vertical stems. The flower clusters can be mostly white or lavender tinted and when the seed pods open white silky fibers attached to the seeds are dispersed by the wind (termed Anemochory). True to its name, a white milky sap will ooze from injured leaves or stems.
 
Reportedly, the native American Zuni tribe spun the silky seed fibers to into yarn to make fabric. The young pods and fleshy root tubers were reportedly eaten by the Anasazi. Some Native Americans also used the dry fibrous stems to make ropes and cords.  
 
It is a valuable wildlife plant pollinated by butterflies, bees, and other insects. It also serves as a host plant for the larvae of the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), whose populations have suffered dramatic declines. If there are a few milkweed plants clustered together, it offers a great habitat for the young caterpillars and helps ensure that they will survive into adulthood. 
 
As a garden plant, the Narrow Leaf Milkweed is an attractive pollinator-friendly plant that has low water requirements. It can be grown from seeds and germinate soon after planted. It is able to grow in variable climates and will thrive in many types of soil, wet, dry, sandy, or rocky and can even handle saline soil. The Narrow Leaf Milkweed does well near other flowering plants, which attracts the Monarch Butterflies, but it also frequently attracts aphids. 
 
Photo Credit: Charles E. Jones

Join a Docent Team!

This image shows a Lake Solano Docent leading a tour.Do you love Putah Creek? Nature? Helping people learn about the outdoors?

Share that passion with others as a volunteer Docent! Putah Creek Council is operating two Docent Programs this fall: one at Lake Solano Park in Winters, and the other at the South Fork Preserve in Davis. Both programs train members of the public in local ecology, natural resource interpretation, and familiarize them with Putah Creek history and management. These volunteer docents lead many programs - tours, public events, pop-up "nature centers," and more - to help visitors learn more about the treasure that is Putah Creek. 

Both programs will have a 2019 training series to bring new docents on board. Before committing to a full training, we ask that interested persons attend an information session about the program(s) that they are interested in. Information sessions will cover content for both sites and are scheduled for the following dates & times:

Lake Solano Park: Docents at this site lead an array of events, ranging from canoe tours and campfire programs to nature walks and portable nature centers.

South Fork Preserve: Docents at this site lead nature walks, pop-up nature centers, citizen science outings, and other public events. 

Please contact Karin Young, Putah Creek Council Education Program Manager, with any questions: karin@putahcreekcouncil.org / 530-795-3006.

July 2019: Sacred Datura

Jimson Weed or Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) is a fairly common herbaceous perennial plant in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). Datura can be found from Mexico, throughout most of the Southwestern United States and up into the upper reaches of Northern California where it grows alongside roads, ditches, and sandy washes from 1,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation. It is fairly common along Putah Creek.

It is easily recognized by its large showy white flowers and dark green grayish velvety stems and leaves.  The flowers are the most striking feature, being sweetly fragrant white trumpets up to 20 centimeter (8 inches) long, often tinted purple, especially at the margin or in the throat. There are five narrow points spaced symmetrically around the rim. Flowers fully open in the evening and wither a few hours after sunrise the following morning; in cloudy weather or in part shade, they may open earlier and last longer. It can bloom from April to October. The leaves are broad and rounded at the base, tapering to a point, often with wavy margins. The fruit is spiny and conspicuous. Along Putah Creek the plants are shrub-like, sometimes attaining a height of 2-3 feet, but they can grow substantially larger depending on the local conditions.

Among the Zuni people, the powdered root of the Sacred Datura is given as an anesthetic and a narcotic for surgery. They would also apply a poultice of root and flower meal to wounds to promote healing.

Datura flowers are fragrant and are pollinated at night by hawkmoths which hover like hummingbirds and unfurl a very long proboscis that extends into the floral tube to reach the nectar. The Carolina sphinx (Manduca sexta), also known as the tomato hornworm, has a well-studied mutualistic relationship with Datura where it pollinates the flowers and also is the host plant to its larvae.

Like many ornamental or edible garden plants in the nightshade family (i.e. tomato, potato, tomatillo and the endless varieties of peppers and chilis), Datura is considered poisonous.  All parts of Datura contain toxic alkaloids with the seeds having the highest concentrations. Livestock and people have been fatally poisoned by ingesting the plant. After eating Datura leaves, one of our family guinea pigs took 3 days to recover. However, Datura is an attractive long-blooming, low-water garden plant that does best in well-drained soils.

Job Announcement: WaterWays Assistant (2019-2020)

This image shows a WaterWays Assistant leading an erosion activity with students.This position has been filled, and application is closed. 

Putah Creek Council is hiring 5-6 program assistants for the 2019-2020 WaterWays environmental education program. 

These are part-time, seasonal positions primarily working on field trips and in-class lesson programs during September - June. WaterWays Assistants may also assist with other education programs focusing on salmon, plants, or environmental stewardship.

Please see the job description (with application) at this link, and contact Program Assistant Nina L. with any questions: nina (at) putahcreekcouncil.org / 530-795-3006. Thank you!

August 2019: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Achillea millefolium, commonly known as yarrow or milfoil is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and North America. It can be common in a variety of soil types, both wet and dry, along roadsides, meadows, forests, fields and coastal areas.

Native American tribes in New Mexico and southern Colorado have called yarrow plumajillo (Spanish for 'little feather') from its leaf shape and texture. Yarrow was used for a variety of ailments including applying crushed leaves to wounds and burns, as a tea to soothe colds, fevers and headaches. It was reportedly used in Europe to brew beer since the middle ages and considered good luck by some Chinese cultures.

Yarrow can have one to several stems extending 0.2–1 m (0.66–3.28 ft) in height. Although the flowers of horticultural varieties can vary in color, the native flowers are generally pink to white and often arranged in flattened disc-like clusters at the top of a long stem. The 5–20 cm (2.0–7.9 in) long leaves are distributed spirally along the stem, with the leaves near the middle and bottom of the stem being the largest. The leaves can be "feathery" in appearance, botanically described as bipinnate or tripinnate. When pollinated, the flowers produce a profusion of tiny achene-like seeds that look like minuscule sunflower seeds.

Yarrow is a versatile and valuable plant used in native plant restoration efforts and great for landscaping. It is drought tolerant, spreads rhizomatously, grows in a variety of soils, flowers prolifically and serves as a host plant to a wide variety of wildlife. The leaves and stems are used as food by a long list of insects and mammals, the flowers attract a variety of pollinators and the "fluffy" leaves are reportedly used as nesting material by some birds. When managed properly, yarrow has been used as a drought tolerant replacement for turf grass lawns or, in the right conditions, it will form dense lush-looking patches bearing long stalks with large fragrant flower clusters. It can be grown from seed or by dividing root clusters. Yarrow does spread, which can be good or bad depending on the long-term plan for where it is planted.

September 2019: The Wind and the Wings- Anemochory

Maple in Duckweed

Anemochory is defined as wind-aided seed dispersal. It seems that tapping the wind as a source of energy is not new new idea. In fact, with a few modifications, many plants have found the wind provides a valuable service for both pollination and seed dispersal. Here, we are interested in how some plants rely on the wind to move their seeds. The tumbleweed, a symbol of the American west rolls along distributing its seeds as it travels. Ironically, this plant is also called the Russian thistle (Salsola sp.) which was introduced from Eurasia and is considered a an invasive species. Other seeds have special shapes or attachments that enable them to glide or whirl such as the seeds of maples and pines, where as cottonwoods, willows, milkweeds and thistles use wispy plumes of gossamer threads to float their seeds on air currents while others, such as those released by some orchids, are so small and ultra-light they are more like drifting spores than seeds.

Seeds that can take advantage of the wind are commonly found in open habitats or elevated in tree canopies. Wind-dispersed species often mature in the dry season to take advantage of windy conditions that optimize long-distance dispersal events. Traveling away from the parent tree helps seeds get to locations that may enhance germination success. Depending on the species involved and the method of riding the air, the seeds can be small, lightweight and produced in the millions so they can travel far and wide. It can be amazing to realize that that tiny smaller than pinhead-sized seed that is even difficult to find in the wispy puff that lands at the table may produce a Cottonwood tree whose trunk diameter is too big to be encircled by the joined hands of six people.  

Anemochorous species can be extremely successful at colonizing distant soils which can be vexing during plant restoration efforts when sites are literally overrun with undesirable invasive species like yellow star thistle, undesirable knapweeds, salt cedar and/or dandelion (to name a few). But this same ability also makes sure that beneficial native species find their way to remote habitats that establish populations of cottonwoods and willows in remote desert springs and streams.

 

October 2019: Going Ballistic- Ballistochory

Ballistochory is used to describe a form of dispersal where seeds are forcefully ejected. Many of our native plant species  (e.g. Doveweed (Croton sp.), Spanish Clover (Acmispon sp.), some species of the California lilacs (Ceanothus sp.) and most Lupines (Lupinus sp.)) use this form of explosive mode of dispersal by sending the seeds several feet away from the plant sometimes with an audible pop. In fact, if you are standing next to Lupines whose mature pods are drying in the sun you can hear the pops and sometimes be sprinkled by the seeds. While trying to collect seeds for our restoration efforts, we sometimes have to design creative ways to catch and retain the seeds that would otherwise be launched away from the plant. And if we collect the ripe but unopened pods, it is best to cover them so seeds will not be distributed through out the room when they finally do dry out- this was learned from experience :).
 
The tropical SandboxTree, (Hura crepitans), can disperse its seeds at up to 70m/s (over 150mph) and reportedly sounds like a gun shot when they explode. At that speed, the seed (~ the size of a  $0.25 cent coin USD) would almost certainly cause injury if it was close enough.
 
All of these plants rely on differential drying of the fruit wall to generate tension. The walls of a ballistic fruit will have at least two layers in which the woody fibers are usually oriented in different directions, often at right angles. As the fibers dry, the layers begin to pull against each other. Fractures distributed along predetermined seams form weak spots that eventually rip dramatically, sometimes throwing the seeds a considerable distance. In legumes, the bean pod splits along two natural seams, and the two halves curl into a corkscrew shape (like those of the Spanish Clover shown in the photograph), flinging out seeds in the process.

The capsules of the yellow wood sorrel (Oxalis sp.), a common greenhouse weed, hops from pot to pot by launching seeds from its exploding pods. As a youngster, I delighted in inviting my unsuspecting friends to pinch a ripe Oxalis capsule and the pod would startle them when it exploded between their fingers spraying us with seeds.

2019 Fall Cleanup

A group of 105 of our committed community members joined forces this past Saturday on September 21, 2019 to once again make sure our creek is well-cared for.  In just 3 hours we removed over 5,500lbs of materials (including 650lbs of recyclables) from the creek and surrounding areas. We prevented those materials from making a journey that taints our water supplies and harms wildlife along its route to the oceans which ultimately changes the quality of life for our entire earth. That is a big “Thank You”! While watching everybody gathering and talking, it seemed like the event is starting to feel more like a celebration than just a waste management effort.

The good thing is that in the high traffic areas like the trails adjacent to the creek, the materials removed were for the most part superficial. They were mostly light weight disposable items which did not contribute so much to the volume. The top three items collected this year continue to show a drop in the number of pieces we handled. However, they were the same three items that were present last year but (did I say butt?), they did shift positions with cigarette butts dropping to last place. This year’s top three items were food wrappers (623), beverage containers (537) and cigarette butts (477).

The majority of the weight came from big heavy items, some of which have been there through the years. This year the outer crews were able to dig a little deeper, extracting older heavier materials from sites that have either become more exposed or more accessible. Go team! We were also able to take pre-emptive steps to remove old irrigation materials that would be destined to become those dreaded micro-plastics we keep hearing about as they continue to break down and eventually head out to sea.

What this might be showing us is that through our persistence, not only are we reducing the kinds of materials that steadily appear year after year, but we are now able to get to those materials that have been there “for another day”. The fact that we also do a Spring cleaning may also be helping.

It does feel like we are cleaning our own house- our living room in fact.  Perhaps the presence of trash allows the idea that it is ok to leave more. And maybe walking along clean creek is promoting itself because it looks like our house is staying cleaner longer. This is the kind of momentum we all know needs to grow.

You can view photos of the the Putah Creek Cleanup at this link: 2019 Putah Creek Cleanup photos. If you have photos you would like to share with everyone, please share them directly to the album.

This is really your event. We at the Council merely give you a platform to organize yourselves. We help these Clean Up events happen every year, so if you are feeling good about the momentum that you are causing, come on out and join the next cleaning event so we can catch up on our lives again while we put another aluminum can in the recycling bin.

From the folks at Putah Creek Council and especially from the creek- we all thank you!

November 2019: Oak Galls

In the late summer and fall you’re likely to see spherical and other oddly shaped growths clustered on the branches of oak trees. They aren’t fruits, or even seeds; these are galls. 

Oaks, known to provide habitat for numerous animals, have been referred to by many native tribes as the “tree of life”. But there are some species that force oaks to grow an entirely new habitat to accommodate their young. These are ‘gall makers’. The champion of these parasites are a large family of tiny wasps, called Cynipids. Tiny female gall wasps will inject their eggs in the leaves or branches of oak trees (Quercus sp.) in the spring. As the larvae mature and develop, they secrete chemicals instructing the oak how to build their gall structure. 

The variation in gall shapes and colors can often be used to differentiate the species that create them. Each wasp species has a distinct gall and is often named after the structure they create. Some galls resemble fruit, such as the oak apple gall produced by the California gall wasp (Andricus quercuscalifornicus, figure 1), others have more complicated and flamboyant structures, such as the spined turbine gall wasp (Antron douglasii, figure 2).

Because of the parasitic nature of this process, the oak tree is tricked into funneling nutrients to the gall to feed the larvae. This leaves the larvae with an abundance of food to feed upon and the safety from climate and predation to grow within. 

Some larvae mature and emerge rather quickly while others will survive through the winter and emerge the following spring, where they will dig their way out and be on the lookout for a host oak to lay their own eggs, but some of the wasps will not be so lucky. As if it is not complex enough, the gall itself can then be parasitized by another group of Parasitoid wasps that specialize in injecting their eggs through the already formed galls and into the developing larvae. These secondary parasites will then consume the existing larvae and grow within the captured gall. This might remind someone of a partial script taken from Augustus De Morgan, in "A Budget of Paradoxes": Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em, and little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.

There are thousands of species of insects and even bacteria and viruses that induce galls. There have been over 700 species of gall wasps documented in North America, and more than 90 wasps in the Cynipidae family to cause galls on oaks in California alone. Galls are found on valley oaks (Quercus lobata), scrub oaks (Quercus dumosa), and blue oaks (Quercus douglasii). Other trees susceptible to galls along Putah Creek are white alders (Alnus rhombifolia), manzanitas (Arctostaphylos sp.), willows (Salix sp.), and gray pines (Pinus sabiniana).

The gall itself is high in tannins, making it extremely bitter, and unpleasant to consume. Historically, galls have been used by native tribes across North America to tan leather, make ink, and create medicinal concoctions to treat wounds, ulcers, and cataracts.

A wide variety of galls can be found along Putah Creek and it is worth noting that they are an indication of the complex interactions that take place in our ecosystems. Sometimes the galls may have a large funnel-shaped hole pecked in the side where a bird was able to pick out a tasty larvae.

 

Winters Nature Park Extension Monitoring

Job Announcement:Education Assistant

Putah Creek Council is currently accepting applications for a full-time Education Assistant.

The Education Assistant is responsible for helping prepare for and lead education programs in classrooms and a variety of outdoor sites in the Putah-Cache watershed. A qualified candidate will be capable of enthusiastically and professionally leading student groups in learning about watersheds, ecology, and environmental stewardship. This person will also assist the education coordinator with our docent programs, e-newsletter, other education programs, and occasionally help with other departments. This is a full-time position with variable hours.

The job description and application are available at this link. To apply, complete the job application and email, along with a resume, to Nina L., nina@putahcreekcouncil.org

Applications will be reviewed beginning November 18, 2019. Please direct any questions to admin@putahcreekcouncil.org. Thank you!

Job Announcement: Education Assistant

Putah Creek Council is currently accepting applications for a full-time Education Assistant.

The Education Assistant is responsible for helping prepare for and lead education programs in classrooms and a variety of outdoor sites in the Putah-Cache watershed. A qualified candidate will be capable of enthusiastically and professionally leading student groups in learning about watersheds, ecology, and environmental stewardship. This person will also assist with our e-newsletter, the docent programs, and occasionally Stewardship Programs. This is a full-time position with variable hours.

The job description and application are available at this link. To apply, complete the job application and email, along with a resume, to Nina L., nina@putahcreekcouncil.org

Applications will be reviewed beginning November 18, 2019. Please direct any questions to admin@putahcreekcouncil.org. Thank you!

Job announcement: WaterWays Assistant (2020)

Putah Creek Council is hiring 3-4 program assistants for the 2020 WaterWays environmental education program. 

These are part-time, seasonal positions primarily working on field trips and in-class lesson programs during January - June. WaterWays Assistants may also assist with other education programs.

Please see the job description (with application) at this link, and contact Program Coordinator Nina L. with any questions: nina (at) putahcreekcouncil.org / 530-795-3006. Thank you!

An Ode to Poison Oak

One of the most hated and misunderstood plants of the California landscape is certainly Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum. This elusive plant has an oak resembling, lobed leaf structure, with a shiny sheen. A typical color sequence goes from light green spring leaves to the deep crimsons of fall, but red leaves can be found year-round. Poison oak is usually a shrub, but given the opportunity, it can climb walls and trees like a vine or grow low like a ground cover. This is enough to make most humans actively avoid this decidious species when possible. 

Before you completely dismiss this species, Poison Oak berries provides food for plenty of birds along the creek, such as mockingbirds, warblers, sparrows, quial, turkeys, waxwings. Deer and woodrats eat their stems and leaves, and their flowers attract pollinators such as bees. This is all possible because the abundant toxin, Urushiol, only effects primates. From a conservation standpoint, the fact that diversilobum provides sustenance for plenty of species, while keeping humans out of their habitat is an exceptional adaptation. This species has a wider geographic range than any California shrub and grows under a greater variety of soil conditions than any other, can tolerate shade or constant exposure to sun, and grow up to 5,000 ft in elevation; naturally protected diversilobum habitat potentially allows other species to thrive around it that may otherwise be disturbed by human activity. 

California natives lived in harmony with Toxicodendron diversilobum for many years. Several groups, including the Ohlone, prized its stems for weaving baskets. Wappo weavers dyed baskets with the sap. The Miwok, Kashaya Pomo, and Maidu made tattoo ink from its ashes. Sources show that poison oak could also be an ingredient in cooking. These natives were also suceptible to developing rashes from the plant and used soap plant (Chlorogalum pomeridianum), mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana), and yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum) for treatment.

Poison oak can be especially devestating when it enters the bloodstream, or its ashes are inhaled. Wildfire firefighters can be especially vulnerable to the latter. The toxic oils are easily transmitted from dogs, so avoidance and caution is best when it comes to poison oak. Let's let this important plant do its job in nature, with the reminder than humans weren't meant to conquer every space. Stick to the trail, and keep a bottle of Tecnu on-hand, just in case. 

 

 

Office Address and Phone

107 Main Street

Winters, CA 95694

Phone: 530-795-3006

 

Mailing Address

107 Main Street

Winters, CA 95694

Staff

Kent Anderson
Executive Director
kent (at) putahcreekcouncil (dot) org

Karin Young
Education Program Manager
karin (at) putahcreekcouncil (dot) org

Brian Keeley
Stewardship Program Manager
brian (at) putahcreekcouncil (dot) org

Nina L.
Program Assistant
nina (at) putahcreekcouncil (dot) org

Tyler Tiffin
Office Assistant
tyler (at) putahcreekcouncil (dot) org