The plan is to restore the creek and to encourage
the government to make more restoration efforts
RICHMOND – Fifty volunteers slogged through the calf-deep mud of Richmond's Baxter Creek last weekend, where they yanked out a leafy vine called water parsley, picked up soda cans and other rubbish, and hauled it all away in buckets.
“People got more than their hands dirty,” said Eric Wesselman, regional director of the Sierra Club, which organized the creek cleanup. “One guy even got mud in his ears.'”
The Sierra Club organized the event to help restore the creek but also to pressure the government to do more to restore Bay Area ecosystems.
Wesselman said CalFed, the joint state and federal government program dedicated to managing water needs in the Bay Area, is underfunded and allows bay restoration to take a backseat to the water needs of corporate farms and growing South California cities.
“Our concern is that CalFed does not have the resources they need to carry out their mission right now,” Wesselman said, noting that CalFed needs over $10 billion to implement the first stage of a plan adopted two years ago. “We can do our part with Baxter Creek but this is a big job and it will take a big program like CalFed to really save the bay.”
Volunteers Monday yanked out the water parsley because it is an invasive species, and its leafy vines had spread out over the creek, slowing the flow and increasing its temperature.
Ecosystem changes like this, Wesselman says, have caused the red-legged frog to disappear, though a new frog has come along that seems to enjoy the warmer waters of Baxter Creek.
Nearly half of the fresh water that used to flow into the San Francisco Bay is presently being diverted to farms and cities, which in turn has caused the winter run of Chinook salmon to drop 90 percent since the 1970s, according to the Sierra Club.
“We're hoping to engage Sierra Club members in hands-on restoration work,” Wesselman said, “but also to pressure CalFed to find the money to restore the Bay.”