Small Creek, Spectacular Opportunities

UCLA students rip and strip the campus's Stone Canyon Creek of invasive plants, freeing the way for native flora.


By Mike Padilla, Photos by Reed Hutchinson '71

Published Jul 21, 2008 2:41 PM

Most UCLA students don't know it's there. Few faculty have ever seen it. But Stone Canyon Creek, the tiny ribbon of water that runs behind the UCLA Anderson School of Management, is now getting some much needed attention — in the form of a restoration to return it to its native state.

UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Santa Monica Baykeeper are joining forces to clean up the only remaining unburied section of the once-dominant creek on UCLA's campus. Over the years, non-native plant species have choked out much of the native vegetation. Student volunteers are now ripping out intrusive weeds and vines and replanting them with native plants, trees and shrubs.

Grants totaling $100,000 from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and the California Coastal Conservancy support the project.

Why lavish so much attention on something so small? "Restoring the creek offers spectacular opportunities," says Mark Abramson, director of watershed programs for Baykeeper. He oversees the project. "The creek will serve as a field laboratory for original studies, from water-quality monitoring to botany. We hope the university will embrace the site as an outdoor classroom."

The restoration should also encourage native bird species to return to this part of campus, diminish bank erosion, and help the creek better do its job as a natural filter.

Abramson also sees the restoration as a small but important piece of the bigger conservation picture for the campus and Los Angeles. "I'd love to see the creek inspire students, faculty and people in the community to think about other creeks sites that could benefit from similar work," he says. "Let's fix the damage we've caused in the past and let nature do what it does best."

Creek restorations are scheduled for the following Saturdays:

July 19, 2008
August 9, 2008
September 27, 2008
October 18, 2008
November 15, 2008

Volunteers are encouraged to arrive any time between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. behind the Anderson School of Management at Charles Young Drive and Westwood Plaza. Parking is available in Lot 4.



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