Giving Natives a Chance
On Saturday December 2, 2017, the Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District and the Restoration Trust had 150 volunteers assist as they held their third annual Giving Natives a Chance event. This program focuses on returning native plants to local creeks and flood control channels. All three events have taken place in the Clayton Valley Drain in Concord, which is adjacent to the Walnut Creek Channel in Concord. This year, among the 150 volunteer, more than 100 high school students decided to give back to the environment and their community by giving up their Saturday morning and coming to the event.
This year’s enthusiastic volunteers began the day with an hour dedicated to creek clean-up. They picked up over 1000 pounds of garbage before digging, and planting approximately 7,000 native grass plugs. Mike Carlson, Flood Control’s Deputy Director, welcomed the volunteers and thanked them for all of their efforts on behalf of the District. Then, John Zentner of the Restoration Trust, explained the importance of these plants in our ecosystem, the function that each species would perform in the channel, and trained the volunteers on the proper planting technique.
Giving Natives a Chance started in 2013 on the west side of Solano Way. Due to the drought, our 2014 event focused on supplemental planting in the same location. This year the native plants were thriving, so the planting area moved upstream to the opposite side of Solano Way, which helps to incorporate more of the watershed in the project.
The channel was planted with Santa Barbara sedge, Baltic rush, and creeping wild rye. Each species has different environmental needs, and has beneficial effects on separate parts of the channel. These species are native grasses or sedges that provide erosion control, fire suppression and are compatible with flood control objectives. They spread from underground rhizomes that anchor the soil and are all perennial species, meaning they stay green all year and are not susceptible to fire. They do not have woody stems, so during floods, they lay down on the slope, which does not impede the flow of water during high-flow events.. These species provide carbon sequestration, unlike non-native annuals, and remove as much as 500,000 gC/acre a year or about ½ ton of Carbon per acre per year.
The District would like to thank our volunteers for all of their support. This year the group included students from Pittsburg High School, Antioch High School, Boy Scout Troop 239, Public Works employees, and many other community members who were generous enough to donate their time.