Winter Planting Days

On Saturday, December 13, we will begin restoration of the creek channel itself at Civic Park, bringing back native plants that have been crowded out by weeds.  To sign up, contact us.

Upcoming Events

Planting & preparation:  Saturday, December 13, 2014 Planting days:  Weekends Dec-Feb TBD
Annual Creek Cleanup:  Saturday May 9, 2015


Recent Activities

Creek History Talk November 13

In honor of Walnut Creek's centennial, Friends of the Creeks gave an illustrated talk on the history of the creeks at the Shadelands Art Center on Thursday, November 13.  Attendees heard what happened to our creeks as pioneers settled this area.  Things are nothing like they used to be!

Pine Creek Cleanup:  We partnered with the Flood Control District for our Community Service Day (CSD) project this year and cleaned up two stretches of Pine Creek.  One crew worked along Oak Grove between Diablo Shadows Park and the traffic circle, and the other worked from Ygnacio Valley Road north to the city limits in the Woodlands neighborhood.  There was considerably more trash this year than there had been in the past.

Week of Caring:  We removed arundo and some other invasive weeds from a downtown site on Las Trampas Creek on September 10.

Otters Are at Home Here

From a low point perhaps fifty years ago, otters have been slowly staging a comeback in Contra Costa County.  They have gradually recolonized many of our creeks, learning to cope with flood control structures and other unnatural objects as they get around.  They can walk cross country to move from one creek to another.  They have visited Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek for many years, but recently they have been staying longer, there are more of them, and there has been breeding activity.  Otters range as far south as Danville now and can be seen in Walnut Creek at Civic Park and in Las Trampas Creek.  Much of this renaissance is due to cleaner water.  For otters to flourish, they need two things from humans:  high quality water and protected wildlife corridors so they can move around.


The Creek Walk Is Expanded

The first section of the Creek Walk included interpretive panels, picnic tables, realignment of the trail farther away from the creek, a new pedestrian-only trail, and replanting of the project area with plants native to the Walnut Creek vicinity.  It was opened to the public in May, 2011.

During the summer, the plants filled out and flowered, providing food for pollinators.  Where the native grass seed was allowed to fall, there are new seedlings around the parent plants, as intended.  To the east of the planted area, City staff pruned up the trees and removed underbrush to give the area a more open feeling.  As a result of all the improvements, the public is making greater use of the area.

On the first Community Service Day in October 2011, the Gardens at Heather Farm and Friends of the Creeks volunteers combined to plant an IPM demonstration garden under the oaks at the east end of the Creek Walk.  (IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management, which is a set of techniques for managing a garden with little or no use of pesticides.)  The new garden showcases a selection of horticultural and native plants suitable for growing under oaks as an inspiration to gardeners to make the most of the native oaks that may be in their yards.

In the fall of 2014, in cooperation with a group of Civic Park volunteers, we began work on rehabilitating the butterfly habitat at the east end of the Creekwalk.


Fish Sampling

In August 2010 we began a new program – gathering data on the fish in Walnut Creek just below the drop structure near the Willows Shopping Center.  This location is the farthest upstream that steelhead and salmon can come to spawn.  We are attempting to document their success by sampling several times over the course of a year to see what species are present in the creek in each season.

We returned to the area a couple of times in December to look for salmon.  We found a few the first time, none the second.  However, there were lots of signs of otters.


Annual Creek Cleanup

About 190 people participated this year as we celebrated the 25th annual downtown creek cleanup and the City of Walnut Creek's 100th birthday.  Volunteers did everything from lining up sponsors for food and printing, publicity, registration, leading crews, preparing food for breakfast -- and of course, cleaning the creek.

In addition to removing trash from the creek, we made great progress in removing arundo and weeding in the butterfly habitat in Civic Park.

Special thanks to our sponsors:  Alphagraphics, Allied Waste, Fresh & Easy, Noah's Bagels, Peets, Safeway, Sprouts, and Sunrise Bistro.

Photos of the 2014 creek cleanup are available  here

 


  Bridge near Duncan Street circa 1914
Walnut Creek Historical Society, used by permission



Volunteers cleaning up trash from Pine Creek near Arbolado Drive on Community Service Day, September 27, 2014

otter with trout

Otter eating a freshly-caught trout in the front pond at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek.  Two recently installed floating islands have created habitat and improved water quality.


The new IPM garden as it appeared in March, 2012.  It is planted with species suitable for growing under native oaks.  There is an informal seating area in the middle.

 
People explore the Creek Walk after the dedication ceremony.

 
Collecting a fish sample with seining nets in lower Walnut Creek

volunteers start out
Volunteers cleaning up an area near Civic Park