West Valley College
14000 Fruitvale Avenue, Saratoga, CA 95070 • Phone (408) 867-2200

Creek in fall
Vasona Creek Restoration

Vasona Creek Restoration

Mission

Work together as a community to restore the Vasona Creek and its surroundings creating a vibrant natural ecosystem, a living laboratory and classroom, and an inviting recreational resource for all to enjoy.

 

Community Outreach

To inform and engage the community in the Vasona Creek restoration and trail building efforts at West Valley College, a Vasona Creek Restoration Workshop was held on December 12, 2013.  Click here to view the information presented.  Stay tuned for future workshops and opportunities for community involvement.

 

Overview

For millennia, the Vasona Creek cut a path through the heart of what is now West Valley College. Undisturbed, the creek thrived.  Surrounded by a beautiful Oak Woodland and part of a watershed that flows from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the San Francisco Bay, the Vasona Creek corridor was home to an abundant and diverse wildlife.

Vasona Creek watershed 1948

 

 

 

 

Through the 1940s and 1950s, the site remained open pasture and orchards.

 

 

 

 

Vasona Creek watershed 1993  

 

 

As the area began to urbanize in the 1950s and 1960s, both upstream and down, much of the rain and spring runoff was collected and concentrated in man-made underground storm drains instead of being allowed to naturally flow through the soil and into the creek.

 

Vasona Creek at West Valley College campus

 

 

 

 

 

The development of West Valley College in 1960s further concentrated the storm water and dumped it directly into one of the last remaining open sections of the pristine little Vasona Creek.

 

 

Channel erosion

Virtually all of the rain that falls on the parking lots, roads, roofs, and pathways of West Valley College and surrounding areas, is channeled into pipes that discharge directly into the creek.  This has resulted in a super-concentration of hydro energy that has accelerated the erosion of the banks, undermined ancient Heritage Oak Trees, and cut away at the creek bottom.  The damage is increasing at an exponential rate.  As the water cuts deeper into the creek, it carves out a narrower and deeper channel.  This increases the energy and velocity of the water even more, providing more cutting power.

In addition to the concentration of the runoff, West Valley College, including its seven athletic fields, acres of turf area, parking lots, roads, paths, and roofs, has become a huge collector of pesticides, fertilizers, petroleum products, heavy metals and other pollutants.  When the rains come, these pollutants get washed into the storm drain system and directly into Vasona Creek and on to the San Francisco Bay!   Much of this runoff is toxic to the microscopic life forming the first link in our creek food chain.

Our ages old creek is dying a slow death by a thousand cuts.

But there is hope!

 

Recognizing the Importance of Vasona Creek

Restoration of the Vasona Creek has been a college priority for many years and has been specifically noted in both the 2005 Long Range Development Master Plan EIR (Environmental Impact Report) and the 2009 West Valley College Educational & Facilities Master Plan.

2009 WVC Educational & Facilities Master Plan 2005 Long Range Development Master Plan EIR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projects and Funding

All SCVWD Grant Projects In 2010, the West Valley College administration applied for several creek restoration grants from the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD).  We were successful in obtaining FIVE of the seven SCVWD grants applied for, with a total value of close to $600,000.  These include:

  1. Channel Stabilization -  for the repair of a small section of creek channel
  2. Wetland Enhancement – for the expansion and improvement of an existing wetland
  3. Native Plant Re-vegetation – to install native plants, trees and shrubs throughout the creek area.
  4. Storm Water Management Plan – conceptual plan to 30% design for 3 future storm water management projects
  5. Trail Plan – conceptual plan to 30% design for a Creek Trail system connecting to City of Saratoga's Heritage Trail.

In 2014, West Valley College obtained two more grants from SCVWD totaling another $500,000. These include:

  1. Channel Stabilization Phase 2 - for the repair of another 400 ft section of the creek channel
  2. Athletic Fields Storm Water - to install storm water management features at the track and sports fields

For more information about the grant projects, see the Projects page.

To support our “in-kind” obligations under these grants, the leadership of the West Valley Mission Community College District, allocated $1,500,000 in funding under the Measure C Bond, passed by local voters in 2013.

This provides a total of $2,600,000 of committed funding.  These funds will go a long way toward the restoration and conservation efforts required for Vasona Creek, but unfortunately not ALL the way.

The problem is, these funds are for “specific projects” in “specific areas” of the creek.  They do not take into consideration the ENTIRE creek.

 

Master Planning

A group of forward thinking administrators, students, faculty and community members, are looking for help to “complete the vision”.  This group, known as the " Stream Team ", is looking to gain community support to finish the project and fully develop the Vasona Creek Master Plan. Stream Team meeting

The Vasona Creek Master Plan includes:

  • Channel and Bank stabilization from inlet to outlet at West Valley College to repair excessive erosion, support heritage trees, and provide a better environment for wildlife.
  • Creation of a new Wetland Pond area.
  • Complete removal of invasive and non-native plants from the creek areas.
  • Supplemental planting of native plant species particular to this precise micro geographic area.
  • Creation of new Storm Water Management Systems to collect, detain, or prevent runoff from directly entering the creek.
  • Establish a baseline and maintain permanent testing of water quality along the creek.
  • Reach out to the City of Saratoga and surrounding communities by creating a new Trail System, connecting to the City of Saratoga Heritage Trail.  The new “Vasona Creek Legacy Trail” will take full advantage of the beauty and experience of the creek, be accessible for all, and have two observation decks, benches, and interpretive signage along its course.
  • Expand the reach of the College by providing an educational experience for all with interpretive signage describing the riparian system, identifying historical significant items, identifying creek geology, animals, birds, plants, trees and shrubs.  Develop multi-use spaces for outdoor classrooms, laboratories, and meeting areas.
  • Provide a working model of duplication so that others can restore and preserve their creeks and streams.

 

Fundraising

The good news is that we’re more than half way there!  With the current grants and bond funding, we have more than half the capital required to complete the dream.  We finish the job by:

      a. seeking additional grant monies  

      b. seeking donations from private individuals and corporations.

An account specific to the Vasona Creek Restoration is set up with the West Valley College Foundation.  Our goal is to raise an additional $1,000,000!  Opportunities for donors to be memorialized along the “Vasona Creek Legacy Trail” include:

  1. Adopt a Trail – special signage along a section of the trail with the name of the donor
  2. Adopt a Bench – a bench  inscribed with the name of the donor and a unique message
  3. Adopt a Heritage Tree – special signage at one of our many creek side Heritage Trees
  4. Donor Signage – large donors will permanently have a place on a Donor Sign to be located at a key, highly visible location along the Vasona Creek Legacy Trail

DONATE HERE  to WVC's Vasona Creek Restoration

last published: 8/22/14 • validate xhtml css 508