Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- March 08, 2004
Cal Poly Restores Stream on Swanton Pacific Ranch
Professors and students at Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch near
Santa Cruz are in the middle of a $350,000 project to create habitat
and spawning grounds for Coho salmon and steelhead trout in Queseria
The project will restore 1,600 feet of lower Queseria Creek to a more
natural, winding riparian corridor, complete with redwood trees and
other indigenous plants and a meandering, rock-lined streambed.
Lower Queseria Creek is a very unique setting, offering refuge and possibly
spawning habitat for Coho salmon and steelhead trout, explained Professor
Walter Mark, director of Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch program.
The project is recreating a portion of the channel originally altered
when the ranch was established in the 1800s. Some of the significant
man-made channel changes date back to the 1860s and some to the1880s.
“It was apparent that this area is very important to Coho and
steelhead, which we have been found here in numbers greater than any
other Scotts Creek tributary – even in poor years and even in
its altered condition.” Mark explained.
“This is an important opportunity to restore habitat and stability
to the lower portion of Queseria Creek,” said Natural Resources
Management Professor and hydrologist Brian Dietterick, who is also working
on the project. The project should benefit not only salmon and steelhead
trout, but also reduce erosion and flooding in the watershed by improving
the channel condition and reducing sediment delivery to Scotts Creek
during flood periods, Dietterick added.
The project is roughly 80 percent complete with final work and re-vegetation
slated for this summer.
Both private donations and public funding and grants made the project
possible. RMC Pacific Materials of Davenport donated more than 300 tons
of local rock worth some $18,000 used to rebuild the instream channel
structures, Dietterick said.
Additional funding and grants for the project came from a number of
agencies, including $80,000 from the California Department of Fish and
Game (SB271 funds), $20,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
$90,000 from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, $55,000 from
a USDA grant for forestry research, and $70,000 from the Santa Cruz
County Public Works Department. The Santa Cruz County funding included
a $25,000 grant from American Rivers, a program supported by National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Cal Poly Foundation provided some funding for the project as well,
and UC Santa Cruz donated more than 100 redwood rootwads after removing
the trees from a UC Santa Cruz building site on campus. The rootwads
were hauled to Swanton Pacific Ranch in spring 2003 and planted in the
Queseria Creek and lower Scotts Creek floodplains to aid in the re-vegetation
effort and add stability and habitat benefits along the channel banks.
Mark, Dietterick and graduate students Jason Pearson of Laguna Niguel
and Alyson Aquino of Ventura are implementing the project and monitoring
results. The ranch will continue to monitor and maintain the stream
area for the next five years to ensure plant survival and monitor the
performance of the channel work.
The project, notes Dietterick, not only provides educational opportunities
for the graduate students, “but will serve as a demonstration
project on stream re-naturalization for decades to come.”
It is also the subject of a video documentary, “The Return Home,”
made possible by a grant to Santa Cruz County. The 27-minute documentary
is being shown on public television in Santa Cruz, and is available
for airing on public television stations in other areas. For information
on the video contact Dietterick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find more information about Swanton Pacific Ranch, visit www.spranch.org.
Contact: Walter Mark, (805) 756-5028