Happy new year!   The Friends Of The Creek are keeping busy advancing the prospect of daylighting the creek through Sausalito, but also building partnerships around stewardship in the watershed, and supporting the teachers of the local public school in environmental, experiential education.  Recent success in the City to protect the Lincoln-Butte open space next to Willow Creek’s neighboring creek to the north, spearheaded by the local group Open Space Sausalito, bodes well for our goals of restoring creeks, beyond just protecting what’s left.

This Month’s Activity:  Native Plant Garden, Willow Creek Academy, 630 Nevada St.,
Monday January 16, 2017 (MLK Day) – 9:00 am – 1:30 pm
This January, we are substituting an on-campus Native Plant Garden project on Monday January 16, 2017 in place of the annual native planting by the creek.    The new native plant garden will be on a sloped, central area, located next to the pilot garden beside the school admin. office that we designed and built in October 2016.  Volunteers from Heath Ceramics will be on campus assisting Friends and other parent volunteers in the vegetable gardens for a large workday effort to transform the campus.  Our native plant garden is located adjacent to the underground creek on campus and will provide habitat for local wildlife as well as watershed friendly, native vegetation.  These areas are uplands adjacent to creek channels that play a vital role in wildlife habitat and water quality protection.

Please come join us on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday holiday to beautify the campus and restore the watershed of Willow Creek at the same time!

Rose Foundation Grant – $4,500 – One Step Closer to Restoring the Upper Reach on Campus!
The Friends were awarded $4,500 last month  to further develop the project and build community partnerships around daylighting the “Upper Reach” of the creek on the Willow Creek Academy campus, and build an outdoor classroom in this area.  This upper reach is currently a eucalyptus grove with ivy and poison oak, which is a large piece of land completely un-used by people, and the habitat is only good for tree nesting by a handful of bird species.  The perennial creek is buried in a pipe through this dead zone.  Our proposal is to remove the non-native hazardous trees, and replace them with a creek corridor and a riparian woodland including trees like cottonwoods, willows and alders.   This grant will help the Friends lay the groundwork to get the improvements done on the school campus and build community around the first daylighted stretch through the city.  The Upper Reach is located between the Fire Road and the pathway to Room 10, and is about 148 feet long.

The Friends are working on applications for grants over $100,000 that can fund the tree removal and creek channel restoration work, in addition to outdoor classroom facilities and a community trail.   Friends Board member and WCA alumni parent Amy Pertschuk is leading the effort to finance creek improvements, along with Emily Schmidt with support from all the friends.

Creek Naturalist Educational Support, December 2016

Using grant funding we received from the Marin County Fish and Wildlife Commission, our head naturalist Pete Schmidt led two programs at the Willow Grove (at Nevada and Bridgeway) creek restoration site with students from Willow Creek Academy.  The program themes were Life at the Creek and Birds.  These programs lasted between 1 and 1 ½ hours.  The students who participated started with a brief discussion and introduction in the classroom, followed by a hike to the creek with a discussion and sharing activity along the way.  At the restoration site students participated in educational games, a professor hike where students taught each other native plant names, hands-on learning activities, free exploration, and were read stories related to their topics.  While the Birds students spent more time in observation of Anna’s hummingbirds, scrub jays, and California towhees, as well as building birds from natural resources, the Life at the Creek students build bug homes to learn about habitats.  Highlights for students were:  earthworms, ravens, scrub jays, pill bugs, spiders and centipedes.  Here are some pictures from the field trips: