Creek celebration at El Dorado Nature Center

March 30, 2010 § 2 Comments

The newly re-made (man-made) stream at El Dorado Nature Center

The El Dorado Nature Center’s stream flows again!  The City and construction team, led by Bubalo  Construction, completed the regrading of the stream, protecting the banks with a mix of coir fabric and in places of high traffic, stone retaining walls. Willows staked into the coir will grow into trees, stabilizing the banks with their roots. Some upslope habitat got planted as well.  Staff at the Nature Center will probably be adding more plants and willow stakes as the season progresses.  The willow wattle (“streambank sushi“) building exercise I wrote about didn’t get replicated – with a limited budget and a massive, highly worthwhile, invasive removal effort – the team made the decision to use simpler measures for erosion protection.

A new feature added to the creek is a rocky beach, or point bar in creekfreak parlance, where we encourage you to hang out with the kids. Play by the water’s edge! The area around it will also get more landscaping over time.

At the opening ceremony , two weekends ago, City of Long Beach project manager Sharon Gates led a group in the celebratory releasing of Monarch butterflies, while happy hikers hit the trails. Some Nature Center regulars expressed dismay at the changes – no doubt the creek looks barren and over-exposed to many visitors. So it’s worth noting here that the Brazilian Peppers that formed a dense thicket – and canopy – over the creek inhibited meaningful habitat for our native bird and amphibian species. It will take a little time for the willow and other species to grow in, but I’m willing to bet that in two years’ time the stream will be a rich resource for these species.  It will look different, with the the soft green of willow instead of Pepper trees. And in the spring, when the willow flowers, it will also smell different, the faintly sweet smell characteristic of our native willow bosques (which may make some of you sneeze a little too). So give the creek a pass for a couple of years, and then let’s reassess.  In the meantime, enjoy the view of the sycamores, which were previously obscured.

And for those of you interested in the progress of our little “streambank sushi” willow wattle – here’s a photo.

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