Today marks the end of one full week of site work on the Green Gulch Creek restoration (a sign on the farm road lets hikers know that the trail is closed during work hours).
Of course, this has been years (some might say decades) in the making, with plans and grant applications and fundraising and many, many meetings and site visits with different governmental and non-governmental agency representatives.
The Green Gulch Land Steward, Sukey, walking through the temporary compost yard toward the restoration site early last week, on the last pre-construction site walk:
A patch of comfrey, an invasive weed (although the leaves are very good for many things, including compost!), which was discussed extensively on the site walk:
We are still fundraising to cover the costs of removing invasive exotics (such as comfrey, kikuyu grass, bermudagrass, and cape ivy) from the restoration site. Click here if you can help!
The view from the road, before construction started:
Last Friday a couple of sumps were dug, and the engineers were excited to find the old Creek bed in the middle of the field (they could tell because of the soil composition and the presence of gravel deposits).
Amazingly, even in this very dry year, the groundwater in this spot was only three feet below the surface!
A pump has been installed to divert this groundwater downstream from the construction site (along with any water in the upstream portion of the old creek channel). There are strict regulations about the quality of water discharged downstream from a construction site; in this photo you can see many layers of materials catching sediment and filtering the water (screen, straw waddle, etc.):
This week a temporary bridge was constructed, and the old “bridge” (which many of you will remember as heavy steel plates and concrete laying across the creek) was removed. Below, you can see the temporary road and bridge veering off to the left, and the site of the old “bridge” straight ahead (this photo was taken from the new road, looking toward the Pelican Inn; you can see the horse paddock on the left):
The new bridge will be long enough (and high enough) to accommodate a wider floodplain and riparian area, creating habitat and helping with large storm events (it will also serve foot, bike, and horse traffic, as well as emergency vehicles).
Several fish barriers (old concrete check-dams that were installed by George Wheelwright when he straightened the creek) have already been removed, including this one which was just above the old bridge:
The old creek channel looks almost unrecognizable (they have removed most of the vegetation and many of the trees, which will be used as fish habitat in the new meandering creek channel). Here’s a photo taken standing in the old channel, right where the bridge was (essentially the same spot as the shot above):
You can see there’s also a sump in the creek channel – the water is being diverted below the project site.
During the clearing of the creek channel, there is a full-time wildlife biologist on site, whose job is to relocate animals encountered during construction. We were very excited when on the first day one of the workers spotted this California Red Legged Frog (a federally listed Threatened Species found in the area, and one of the reasons we are doing this restoration!):
Per an agreement with California Department of Fish and Wildlife, she relocated the frog to a pond nearby. She says “Cody found a red-legged frog at Green Gulch today and I had the pleasure of capturing and relocating it. This frog is so pretty I couldn’t help but share – cooper eyes, great colors, cool feet.”
Cool feet indeed!
Here’s a wide shot of the sixth field, looking toward the ocean, with the old creek channel following the line of trees on the right hand side of the frame:
Mike, the principal design engineer, told me that taking down a big tree with an excavator is pretty easy, but taking down a big tree in one piece so you can use it in a restoration is delicate business. Here’s Mike (he likes to dig out his designs!):
And here’s a big machine taking down a big willow for re-use in the new channel:
Part of the PCI team (Jennifer: Wildlife Biologist, Justin: Project Manager, Mike: Engineer and machine operator), excited that the project has begun!