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Along Sausal Creek : an assessment of vegetation, habitat, and morphology of an adopted urban creek

  • Author(s): Chanse, Vikki
  • Herron, Christy
  • et al.
Abstract

Since the 1990s, local creek groups organized around habitat restoration and monitoring have coalesced into a growing force in the urban watershed movement that is creating new ways of engaging and reshaping the urban environment. Despite a growth in recent volunteer activities and funding allocation to these volunteer groups, little has been done to assess the biological and social outcomes of this volunteer creek stewardship. The Friends of Sausal Creek (FoSC) in Oakland, California is one of the most active volunteer groups in Alameda County monitoring and restoring riparian habitat along an adopted creek. From 2000 to 2001, a creek restoration project was designed by Wolfe Mason Associates, Inc. (WMA) and carried out for a reach of Sausal Creek in Dimond Canyon under FoSC’s guidance and stewardship.

This paper approaches the study of Sausal Creek in two parts to determine the overall health of that reach of the creek. The first aspect of this study was to determine the success of the volunteer riparian habitat plantings along the left bank of Sausal Creek in Dimond Canyon. We used a quadrat sampling method to determine percent cover, species composition, and species diversity. The second aspect of this study was to compare the Dimond Canyon site with upper watershed sites. Our findings suggest that the Dimond Canyon restoration site provides better habitat than the pre-project conditions but the habitat remains slightly more impaired than the upper watershed sites.

The restoration plantings appear to be successful in that a greater percentages of native plant cover and a greater species diversity exist than pre-restoration site conditions. The Dimond Canyon site has the characteristics of a healthy stream, although the upper watershed has relatively higher habitat quality. These results, while not entirely conclusive, suggest that 1) FoSC’s continued contribution in improving riparian habitat along the creek is significant and that 2) the Dimond Canyon site is achieving some of the goals of the WMA restoration.

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