Creek restoration and kids ecology education

by Alice Martinez
an Diego City Council members Valerie Stallings and Byron Wear helped kick off a new effort to restore Rose Creek in Pacific Beach. The project, which began on June 26, is being funded with $40,000 in Community Development Block Grant monies allocated by Stallings and Wear.

The Nature School, a non-profit organization that focuses on urban creek restoration and watershed education opportunities for kids, applied for the grant money and is overseeing the project. Nature School staff have utilized volunteers from the National Civilian Community Corps, Girl and Boy Scouts, neighborhood children and community activists to help with the project.

Creek Restoration and Ecology Education for Kids©, promotes ecological enhancement and environmental stewardship through interaction with nature, exploration of real life environmental issues and in-class hatchery of salmon family fishes.

CREEK is interdisciplinary, using multimedia presentation and artful expression to challenge students' creative ability in conceiving solutions for environmental protection. Beyond traditional education, Project CREEK offers guest visits, field study, demonstrations, school assemblies, on-site workshops and town hall meetings to engage K12 and college students, parents, educators, community leaders and policy makers as participants in real-life learning as shareholders in managing community resources.

There are currently two opportunities to restore urban wetlands. The first is on Mission Bay, America's largest aquatic park, which is jeopardized by urban run-off via its major tributary, Rose Creek. The second is the San Diego River, west of the trolley overpass. By cleaning up the coastal portion of Rose Creek and the San Diego River and restoring their habitats, open spaces will be preserved for numerous community benefits.

Project CREEK invites the community to take pride of ownership of these areas with a demonstration of service by the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. AmeriCorps is a national service organization patterned after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the depression era, with the military ideals of leadership and teamwork. Teams of 10-14 Corps Members work in communities across the country to "get things done" in the environment, education, human needs, and public safety.

At the Rose Creek site, an eleven member team has begun Phase One: cleaning the trash from the area, removing non-native vegetation, and trail building.

"It has been an incredible effort," Stallings said. "In just 10 days, they've removed 40 tons of garbage and non-native vegetation that has been choking out the fish, wildlife, and native plants that the creek needs to thrive."

"This has truly been a collaborative effort," added Wear. "The Nature School staff has done a great job securing assistance from a wide variety of groups, and they've helped make our CDBG dollars go a long way."

In the second phase of the project, children from area schools will be able to use the area as an outdoor classroom. The kids will actually help restore native fish and plant species, and monitor the quality of creek water.

"It's wonderful to see the kids out here," Stallings said. "That is probably the best part about this project the community gets a healthier creek, and in the process the kids receive a superb outdoor education and a real-life ecological experience."

Please call the Nature School at (619) 224-2003 and let them know how you can help make urban creeks a place of enjoyment and education for families, community spirit and environmental stewardship in action.