Green Coalition Joins CREW in Next Phase of Creek Restoration Work

Stewart Canyon Creek, the next two Saturdays, December 6th and 13th

The Concerned Resources and Environmental Workers (CREW) is continuing the work it started with the Libbey Bowl Creek Restoration Project in the West Barranca. So far 52 tons of invasive vegetation has been removed and over 300 plants and trees planted. The new stretch of creek restoration work is Southwest of Libbey Park on the Stewart Canyon Creek and Fox Canyon Barranca and is being funded with a grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The CREW has been preparing the area and is now ready for Green Coalition volunteers to help sheet mulch and prep cuttings over the next two Saturdays for future plantings. The goal is to improve passage and breeding potential for endangered aquatic species, such as southern steelhead trout and California red-legged frogs.

Volunteers should check in by 9:00 a.m. at the Libbey Park lower tennis court parking lot off of S. Montgomery St. in downtown Ojai to receive training and instructions before work begins. Please wear sturdy shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. If you own them, please bring your own gloves and shovel; otherwise, tools will be provided. Note there is poison oak in the area, but it will be marked. The work days will run from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Those under the age of 18 will need the liability release waivers signed by a parent or guardian, which can be downloaded here.

In the fall of 2009 the Green Coalition initiated an Ojai Creek restoration project under the guidance of biologist, Brian Holly and used the CREW for much of the heavy nonnative vegetation removal. The Ojai Creek bordering Libbey Park, one of 17 creeks that run through the middle of the city, is an essential channel in the Ventura Watershed system. The Ojai Valley Basin contributes to surface water levels and recharges the groundwater. It’s interconnected with the entire watershed, which—as one of the few remaining natural river systems in California—provides us with fresh, local water.

The Ojai Creek now has established native plants, including two species of willow trees, along its banks. Willows maintain the integrity of the banks and provide habitat and forage for a variety of wildlife, including two federally protected species of birds—the southwest willow flycatcher and the least Bell’s vireo. Other reemerged natives include mulefat, mugwort, and coyote brush that attract abundant wildlife and recreate a diverse and species-rich environment.

In 2012, the CREW took over as the lead organization and restored the West Barranca in Libbey Park across from the old jailhouse. The Green Coalition partnered with the CREW through volunteer recruitment and supervision during work days. Ojai Trees and the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy have both donated dozens of plants and trees, too.

One of the ways that human activities affect the watershed is by introducing non-native plant species. Certain invasive plants such as giant reed (Arundo donax) choke the stream system, curtailing wildlife migration and making it impossible for other plants to establish themselves. For the Stewart Canyon Creek phase of the project, non-native palm trees and Arundo were removed prior to the volunteer participation days. Now volunteers will help sheet mulch the creek banks to help suppress the regrowth of non-natives and prepare for future planting. Click here for more information about the volunteer work days or contact Deborah.

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