Creek of the Week

"Creek of the Week" features a different watershed on the San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program's Facebook page each week. Weekly highlights will help residents get familiar with local watersheds in the County, and provide contact information to get involved and volunteer with the non-profits that host events dedicated to conserving and restoring the waterways.


 San Francisquito Creek - Week 18

A Creek Runs Through It: The Story of San Francisquito

(Video Credit: Produced by Peter Drekmeier April, 1994. Published on Aug 22, 2014)

 


Laurel Creek - Week 17

(Photo Credit: EOA, Inc. - August 2008 Unified Stream Assessment Report)

 

Where is the creek located?

Laurel Creek is located between San Mateo and the West Belmont area.

 

Where does the creek flow?

The creek originates near Highway 92 by Laurelwood Park and Sugarloaf Hill and flows to the Seal Slough Watershed of San Mateo into the Bay.

 

Interesting Facts:

  • The Ohlone Native American tribe used this freshwater creek for fishing resources for thousands of years.
  • Spanish explorers in 1776 colonized the area naming the village “Los Laureles” after the native Laurel trees found in the area. This inspired the name Laurel Creek.
  • Trash found in the creek comes from littering, illegal dumping as well as street and storm drain runoff.
  • The Laurel Creek Dam is crucial to the neighborhoods nearby because it prevents flooding in the area during wet weather.


Facts from:

  1. "History of San Mateo." History of San Mateo http://watchdogsanmateo.com/.
  2. Leidy, R.A., G.S. Becker, B.N. Harvey. 2005. Historical distribution and current status of steelhead/rainbow trout (Oncorhynchusmykiss) in streams of the San Francisco Estuary, California. Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration, Oakland, CA.

 

Volunteer Opportunities:

Help keep our creeks clean by participating in Coastal Cleanup Day in San Mateo. Educate yourself and others about storm drain runoff.

 


El Zanjon Creek- Week 16

Map & Fact Credit:  Tillery, A.C., Sowers, J.M.. and Pearce, S., 2006, Creek & Watershed map of San mateo & Vicinity: Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA, 1:25,800

Click here to link to map



Where is the creek located?

El Zanjon Creek is located in the City of San Bruno. 



Where does the creek flow?

This creek flows from Junipero Serra Park eastward and eventually converges with San Bruno Creek to discharge near the South San Francisco/San Bruno Water Quality Control Plant north of the Airport. 



Interesting facts:

  • El Zanjon translates to “big ditch” in Spanish.
  • The creek flows through two of San Bruno’s Parks, Junipero Serra County Park and San Bruno City Park, making the creek susceptible to litter.



See the red dot on the map above to follow the facts below pertaining to the area of the creek in Junipero Serra County Park.

 

  • As you cross El Zanjon Creek on the park entrance road, look upstream to see the creek flowing in its natural channel with native streamside vegetation.
  • Even though this creek flows through a natural setting in a large park, the engineered channel banks lack vegetation.

 

See the yellow dot on the map above to follow the facts below pertaining to the area of the creek in San Bruno City Park.

 

  • Follow the creek behind the swimming pool along DeSoto Way, and eventually to the children’s play structure where the creek disappears into an underground storm drain.
  • Near the baseball diamond, the creek flows through a parking lot where it is shallow enough to drive across!
  • El Zanjon flows parallel to the “Live Oak Nature Trail Loop” near the park entrance.

 

Volunteer opportunities:

Volunteer with San Mateo County Parks Volunteer Program to work on trail construction, exotic plant removal, habitat restoration, trail patrol, and other beneficial and rewarding projects that in turn help protect our creeks. 

 

Don’t forget to sign up for Coastal Cleanup Day!

 


Calera Creek- Week 15

Map Credit:

(Givler, R.W., Sowers, J.M. and Vorster, P., 2006, Creek & Watershed Map of Daly City & Vincinity, Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA, 1:25800 scale.)

Photo Credit: Gail Whitaker

Clink here to link to the map above

 

Where is the creek located?

Calera Creek is located in the City of Pacifica.

 

Where does the creek flow?

This creek flows into Rockaway Beach and the Vallemar neighborhoods of Pacifica. Headwaters are in the Sweeney Ridge National Park, which includes ridges and ravines between Pacifica and San Bruno.

 

Interesting facts:

  •  Calera Creek is located on the north side of the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk
  • The creek has thick riparian vegetation along its banks including rushes, bulrushes, and horsetails, among others
  • Easily explore the creek via biking the trail either starting at Pacifica State Beach or at Calera Creek Park father upstream.
  • 130,000 native flora grown in nurseries were planted in the area by community volunteers, contract labor, and the Caldera Creek Recycling Plant.
  • The threatened California Red-legged Frog and endangered San Francisco Garter Snake rely on the creek’s ecosystem.
  • Notice the engineered creek channels (found in red on the map above) – Look for engineered banks along the new creek channel while exploring.  
  • Learn more about the Calera Creek Wetlands history here.  

("About the Facility." City of Pacifica http://www.cityofpacifica.org/depts/wwt/caleracreek/about_the_facility.asp).

(Givler, R.W., Sowers, J.M. and Vorster, P., 2006, Creek & Watershed Map of Daly City & Vincinity, Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA, 1:25800 scale.)

 

Volunteer opportunities:

Join Pacifica Beach Coalition to clean up Calera Creek & Rockaway Beach  from 9am - 11am on Saturday, August 2nd.  Meet in the North parking lot by the Seawall.

The Hwy 1 bike path to Calera Creek is in need of litter clean up. Join Pacifica Beach Coalition to ADOPT THIS SPOT!

Pacifica Beach Coalition has many otheropportunities to get involved!


 

San Bruno Creek- Week 14

(Photo Credit: Pollution Prevention Specialist)


Where is the Creek located?

San Bruno Creek is located in the city of San Bruno.


Where does the creek flow?

San Bruno Creek flows eastward, eventually draining near the South San Francisco/San Bruno Water Quality Control Plant north of the Airport. 


Interesting facts:

  • Historically, San Bruno Creek soaked into the ground before reaching the area near 1st & San Mateo Avenue, but in the 1940’s, the creek was re-routed through this section to prevent seasonal flooding.
  • The area of the creek near the water quality control plant contains a very large section of historical tidal marsh.
  • The Bay Trail around San Trans Point is a wonderful starting point for exploring the large natural marsh.  Look for birds like the endangered clapper rails and sedge wrens tucked into pickleweed and cord grasses.

(Facts from (Givler, R.W., Sowers, J.M. and Vorster, P., 2006, Creek & Watershed Map of Daly City & Vincinity, Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA, 1:25800 scale.)

  • The area near San Bruno Creek was inhabited by Ohlone Indians prior to 1750.
  • The Ohlone used tule reeds that grew near the bay and along the many creeks in the area to build their homes and canoes.
  • There have been three Ohlone hunting campsites uncovered in the area.

(Facts from: City of San Bruno – History)

  • For a detailed map of creeks, storm drains, and watersheds in San Bruno, click here.


Volunteer opportunities:

Volunteer with San Mateo County Parks Volunteer Program to work on trail construction, exotic plant removal, habitat restoration, trail patrol and other beneficial and rewarding projects that in turn help protect our creeks.  

Don’t forget to sign up for Coastal Cleanup Day!

 


 Purisima Creek - Week 13

(Photo Credit: Pollution Prevention Technician)


Where is the Creek located?

Purisima Creek is located in the coastal region of San Mateo County. The creek starts its course in the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, descends west through unincorporated San Mateo County & eventually meets the Cowell-Purisima Trail and the Pacific Ocean.

 

Where does the creek flow?

Purisima Creek is an 8-mile long stream that runs through San Mateo County and flows westward towards the Pacific Ocean.

 

Interesting facts:

  • The town of Purisima is located 4 miles south from Half Moon Bay and was founded in the 1850’s. The town faced many problems such as drought, remote location, and financial difficulties. The town was abandoned before World War II and all that remains is a cemetery.
  • Coastside Land Trust recently acquired the old town site and is currently conducting habitat restoration work on the property. Coastside Land Trust will open the property to the public after restoration is complete. 
  • Original name of the Purisima Creek was “Arroyo de la Purisima,” translating to “Creek of the Purest”
  • The Purisima Creek corridor supports rare and important riparian habitats with native trees and vegetation that hosts a large variety of animal and plant species.

(Facts generated by Christophe, Coastside Land Trust intern)

 

Volunteer opportunities:

Coastside Land Trust is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of open space on the San Mateo County coast. Coastside Land Trust recently acquired a seven-acre parcel at the old town of Purissima, adjacent to Purisima Creek. Coastside Land Trust will hold a habitat restoration workday on this property on Saturday, July 19 from 10am–Noon.  Please contact info@coastsidelandtrust.org or call (650) 726-5056 for full details. Visit coastsidelandtrust.org for more general information.


San Vicente Creek - Week 12

(Photo Credit: Pollution Prevention Technician)


Where is the creek located?

San Vicente Creek is located in Moss Beach, California

 

Where does the creek flow?

The creek flows on the west facing slopes of the Montara Mountain, and drains into the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. 


Interesting Facts:

  • San Vicente Creek is approximately 4 miles long
  • This creek and beach area is a marine protected area by the State of California
  • California red-legged frogs call this creek home
  • This creek is monitored weekly for coliform bacteria by the San Mateo County Environmental Health Department
  • This creek frequently has posted signs warning of water contamination for coliform bacteria
  • Native Americans inhabited the banks of this creek as early as 3800 BC 


Volunteer opportunities:

  • Reminder to always pickup pet waste (from backyards too).  E-mail Pollutionprevention@smcgov.org with your mailing address to receive a FREE dog waste bag carrying case 


Guadalupe Valley Creek - Week 11

 

 

(Photo Credit: San Bruno Mountain Watch)

Where is the creek located?

Guadalupe Valley Creek is located in Brisbane.


Where does the creek flow?

This eastward flowing creek begins east of the highest peak on San Bruno Mountain. Its tributaries drain the interior slopes of the horse-shoe shaped mountain before flowing through and under the Crocker Industrial Park in Brisbane. Finally, it enters the Brisbane Lagoon.


Interesting Facts:

  • Much of Guadalupe Creek flows through underground pipes, emerging to daylight just east of Bayshore Boulevard.
  • In the past, Guadalupe Creek drained a large wetland where Crocker Industrial Park now stands (Fact from: San Bruno Mountain Watch).
  • Guadalupe Creek’s highest elevation reaches 1,314 ft.
  • 84.58% of the City of Brisbane is made up of water - Guadalupe Creek plus Brisbane Lagoon make up much of this, leaving only 3.1 square miles of land in the city
  • The Cypress Lane Wetlands is one place where some of the creek finds daylight. It has been called the best Chorus Frog breeding area around the bay, and has a fairly complete assemblage of freshwater wetland plants.


Volunteer opportunities:


San Bruno Mountain Watch has many opportunities to get involved! Volunteers have been restoring the Cypress Lane Wetlands for 6 years.
Visit http://www.mountainwatch.org/ to learn more.

 



Atherton Creek - Week 10


(Photo Credit: EOA, Inc. - August 2008 Unified Stream Assessment Report)


Where is the creek located?

Atherton Creek is located in Atherton, Redwood City, Menlo Park, Woodside, and unincorporated parts of San Mateo County.

Where does the creek flow?
The creek flows west of I-280 to Alameda de las Pulgas, through a concrete channel, and into the San Francisco Bay.

Interesting Facts:

  • Atherton Creek is one of the two largest creeks in San Mateo County
  • Native stickleback and large carp call this creek home
  • A 2008 study concluded that there were 8 creek crossings like roads, bridges, and private driveways, but none of these interfered with fish passage
  • Two restoration projects have been completed in the creek within the last 10 years.
  • A majority of the creek is located within private properties
  • The creek is home to Red-legged frogs and Dusky Footed Wood Rats


For More Information:
Read about Atherton’s storm drainage master plan at:http://www.ci.atherton.ca.us/index.aspx?nid=324Storm drains lead to your local Atherton creek!
Find out about Atherton’s Environmental Committee at:
http://www.ci.atherton.ca.us/index.aspx?nid=141



Easton Creek - Week 9


(Photo credit: City of Burlingame)

Where does the creek flow?

Unincorporated San Mateo County, Hillsborough, and Burlingame.

Interesting Facts:

  • Easton Creek has been engineered into a canal as it flows into the Bay (1).
  • Stickleback fish and Salamander call this creek home (1).
  • Easton Creek has 15 crossings, 13 are roads, and 2 are private homes (1).
  • Plastic bottles, rubber balls and styrofoam were common litter items found in a 2008 study (1).
  • Illegal dumping is one of the primary causes of litter found in creeks. If you see illegal dumping occurring please click here to find out who to contact in your City.
  • In 2012 Easton Creek was widened downstream of Bayshore Boulevard to accomodate additional flows of water in order to alleviate flooding that was occurring in a nearby residential area (2).
  • Part of Easton Creek in Burlingame was rehabilitated by planting native plants to enhance wildlife and improve pedistration safety. Find out how it improves pedistration safety by clicking here.

    Volunteer Opportunties: To help clean up creeks in San Mateo County, please visit this click here for a list of upcoming volunteer opportunities.

    Facts provided by:
  • EOA, Inc. 2008. Unified Stream Assessment.
  • City of Burlingame. 2012. http://www.burlingame.org/index.aspx?page=1602


Redwood Creek – Week 8

(Photo Credit: EOA, Inc. – August 2008 Stream Assessment Report)


Where is the creek located?

Redwood Creek is located north of Atherton Creek and drains 11.8 square miles. The creek runs through the cities of Redwood City and Woodside.


Where does the creek flow?

Redwood Creek flows west of I-280 to the east end of the Menlo Country Club golf course at Alameda de las Pulgas. Further downstream, the creek flows through a concrete channel to El Camino Real Road, and then through an underground channel into San Francisco Bay. 


Interesting facts:
 
• According to a 2008 observation, Redwood Creek had no fish
• Redwood is one of the two largest creeks in the southern part of San Mateo County
• Redwood creek flows for 37 miles
• Redwood City paved over the downtown section of the creek in the 1920’s ( Fact from Romancing the Creek )


Volunteer opportunities:

Check out Romancing the Creek at http://yezucan.com/romance/index.php, and Redwood City’s Pride and Beautification committee at http://www.redwoodcity.org/government/bcc/pride/  for cleanup events to protect Redwood Creek! 


Belmont Creek - Week 7

(Photo Credit: Pollution Prevention Technician)


Where is the creek located?

Belmont Creek is located mostly in Belmont, with a small area in unincorporated San Mateo County and San Carlos.

 

Where does the creek flow?

Belmont Creek begins along the hills west of Belmont and flows east for about 3 miles until it drains into Belmont Slough, a San Francisco Bay tributary. 

 

Interesting facts: 
• In 1878, a dam was created in Belmont Creek to create Water Dog Lake
• Approximately 50% of Belmont  Creek’s channel has been modified
• Belmont creek flows through residential, commercial, and industrial areas
• Only 34% of the Belmont creek outfalls come from municipal storm drains, the rest come from private property piping, rainwater drainage, tributaries, and natural springs. 

 

Volunteer opportunities:

To learn about the City of Belmont’s  environmental efforts visit:
http://www.belmont.gov/subContent.asp?CatID=240000276
 Click on clean up and outreach for volunteer opportunities and contact information.  



Pilarcitos Creek - Week 6


(Photo credit: Coastside Land Trust)

Where is the creek located?

Unincorporated San Mateo County and the City of Half Moon Bay.  


Where does the creek flow?
Pilarcitos Creek originates on the eastern side of the Montara Mountain. The creek flows for about 12 miles and then drains into the Pacific Ocean in the city of Half Moon Bay.  

Interesting facts (provided by Coastside Land Trust):

  • The natural plant communities found on the watershed range from coastal strand vegetation near the Pacific Ocean to Redwood forest in the Upper Pilarcitos area.
  • The creek is relied on for a great variety of services-it is a source of clean drinking water for residents of the central coast and San Francisco Bay Area, it supports agriculture and recreational tourism, and it is crucial to the survival of many threatened/endangered species.
  • There are seven main tributaries that flow into the creek.
  • The red-legged frog, San Francisco garter snake, snowy plover, the tidewater goby, and the steelhead trout all rely on Pilarcitos Creek for the natural habitat that it provides.
  • Agricultural run-off is a major cause of concern for the watershed. Much of the floodplain in the Middle Pilarcitos Creek is used for agricultural purposes.The main stem of the Pilarcitos Creek flows parallel to Highway 92. Because of this and its proximity to urban and residential areas, the creek is strongly impacted by storm runoff.

 

Volunteer opportunities:

Coastside Land Trust is a non-profit organization that is actively working to restore Pilarcitos Creek in Half Moon Bay. Litter and the dumping of household/industrial items are major issues in the Lower Pilarcitos Creek region. For upcoming volunteer opportunities, contact info@coastsidelandtrust.org or visit coastsidelandtrust.org

 



Millbrae Creek- Week 5

(Photo Credit: EOA, Inc. – August 2008 Stream Assessment Report)


Where is the creek located?
City of Millbrae and Burlingame

Where does the creek flow?
Millbrae Creek is culverted to the Bay below Palm Avenue

Interesting Facts:

  • Approximately 1/4 of the creek has been urbanized
  • Millbrae creek is surrounded by residential land use, with pockets of urban vacant and park uses
  • Millbrae Creek is vegetated primarily by ivy, and over 75% is shaded by foliage
  • Upper Millbrae creek generally has a low flow and is mostly dry in the lower reach
  • From a 2008 study, no fish were observed in this creek
  • About 41% of the Millbrae Creek is under roads and residential homes
  • Millbrae Creek has 13 outfalls – 10 of which had no flow, and 3 with trickle flow from a 2008 study


Volunteer Opportunities:
Live or work in Millbrae?  Pick up litter while you’re out and about. Be sure to sign up for Coastal Clean Up Day this September!  Visit http://www.coastal.ca.gov/publiced/ccd/locations.html for more information.




San Pedro Creek - Week 4

(Photo Credit: EOA – August 2008 Stream Assessment Report)

Where is the creek located?

City of Pacifica

Where does the creek flow?

The creek drains through roughly eight square miles of the western side of the Montara Mountain and has five major tributaries, all of which contain perennial (year round) flows fed by springs.


Interesting Facts:

  • Unlike many other creeks in San Mateo County that flow into San Francisco Bay, San Pedro Creek flows into the Pacific Ocean.
  • San Pedro Creek and San Mateo Creek (described below) is host to Steelhead/Rainbow Trout (Oncorhyncusmykiss) populations.
  • Approximately 1/4 of the creek has been urbanized.
  • 15 stormdrains flow into the creek.
  • Due to extensive restoration work, including the creation of a "naturally meandering" channel, this creek hosts one of the healthiest habitats for migrating Steelhead Trout populations.


Volunteer Opportunities:

San Pedro Creek Watershed Coalition hosts a litter cleanup event once a month at San Pedro Creek throughout the year.




Lower San Mateo Creek - Week 3

(Photo Credit: EOA – August 2008 Stream Assessment Report)


Where is the creek located?

City of San Mateo

Where does the creek flow?
The creek originates near Sweeny Ridge between Pacifica and Millbrae, and flows through parts of Unincorporated San Mateo County,  the Town of Hillsborough, and the City of San Mateo into  San Francisco Bay.

Interesting Facts:

  • Trout and Stickleback fish inhabit upper parts of the creek.
  • Trash and litter impacts this creek the most between Delaware and Claremont Street.
  • 51 stormdrains use this creek to transport water from roads into San Francisco Bay.
  • The creek is host to Crystal Springs Reserovir Dam.
  • The creek flows into San Francisco Bay at City of San Mateo's Ryder Park.


Volunteer Opportunities:

The City of San Mateo hosts one of the biggest Coastal Cleanup Day sites in the County on an annual basis. For more information on litter cleanup events taking place in San Mateo, visit the City's website.

To help keep water that goes into the stormdrain pollution free, take your car to a car wash. Email pollutionprevention@smcgov.org for a FREE car wash coupon valid at over 12 locations throughout San Mateo County.


Arroyo ojo de Agua - Week 2

(Photo Credit: Acterra)

Where is the creek located?

Redwood City

Where does the creek flow?

Arroyo Ojo de Agua is a tributary to Redwood Creek that flows into San Francisco Bay. Arroyo Ojo Agua flows for almost a mile in a mostly natural channel through Stulsaft Park, a 42 acre Redwood City park with a beautiful riparian corridor.

Interesting Facts:

Unlike most creeks in urban areas of the peninsula, this creek is "perennial" meaning that it flows year round. The creekside vegetation in Stulsaft Park include many native trees and understory plant species, including the beautiful flower pictured above called the San Franciscian Onion Wikicommons.


Volunteer Opportunities:

Acterra, a non-profit, involves community members and works hard to remove invasive species on the creeks and banks. Help keep Stulsaft Park and Arroyo Ojo Agua Creek clean by volunteering with Acterra.


Colma Creek - Week 1


Where is the creek located?

South San Francisco, Daly City, Colma and Unincorporated San Mateo County.

Where does the creek flow?

Colma Creek runs to San Francisco Bay from the San Bruno Mountains.

Interesting Facts:

  • In 2006, 448 volunteers dedicated 1,278 hours to restoring the upper watershed of Colma Creek by planting 8,700 native plants within the San Bruno State and County Park. Restoration efforts also consisted of the removal of invasive plants, including 50 large and 100 small eucalyptus and cypress trees, the English and Cape Ivy, and the Himalayan blackberry.
  • Also in 2006, the San Mateo County Flood Control District created 3.7 acres of upland and salt marsh habitat at the mouth of Colma Creek, and continues to plant native species and remove invasive species from the restoration site. This habitat restoration area can be enjoyed by walking, jogging, or biking along the adjacent San Francisco Bay Trail.


Volunteer Opportunities:
Invasive plants are not Colma Creek's only problem! Despite aggressive restoration efforts, litter continues to remain a pollution issue (shown in the picture above). For volunteer opportunities to help keep this creek clean, email cfoster@smcgov.org