Scout project helps protect creek habitat

Photo of Lucas Needles working on Eagle Scout Garrett Dawson's project to help protect the sensitive landscape at the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve.

Lucas Needles, foreground, and other Scouts from Troop 111, work on Eagle Scout Garrett Dawson’s project to help protect the sensitive landscape at UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve.

SEE THIS ARTICLE in the Davis Enterprise
August 11, 2015

Eagle Scout Garrett Dawson from Davis’ Boy Scout Troop 111 worked with Jean-Philippe Marié, manager of the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve, to plan a project to protect the reserve’s sensitive landscape.

On Sunday, Aug. 2, 15 volunteers from the troop built a barrier to keep vehicles from crossing into the creekside areas from the gravel parking lot.

The UCD Putah Creek Riparian Reserve is a stream, a riparian (water’s edge) woodland and a grassland ecosystem managed by the university for teaching, research and wildlife and habitat protection. It encompasses about 640 acres, along 5.5 miles of Putah Creek on the UCD campus.

While many locals enjoy the opportunity to walk along the banks of the creek and observe the reserve’s natural beauty, trespassing on sensitive areas and vandalism have taken a toll. The reserve has been particularly impacted in an area near the County Road 98 bridge over Putah Creek, where partiers and vandals have driven across restored areas, cutting deep ruts in hillsides, and even taking their vehicles into the creek.

Scouts installed 30 pressure-treated posts along the perimeter of the driveway and parking lot, then ran lengths of one-inch steel cable through the posts to create a durable barrier.

According to Andrew Fulks, director of the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve and Campus Natural Lands, “The project was critical to the reserve to stop off-highway vehicles from trespassing onto the reserve.”

It was hot, dirty job. The steel cable was heavy and treated with grease, so teamwork was essential to get it off the spools and threaded through the posts. The Scouts took to the task with vigor, finishing the job in less than a day.

Naftali Moed, a UCD student employee, provided the support for the Scouts on their work day. He also showed them the areas of recent vegetation loss from off-road vehicles driving down the levee slope. A short walk away, at the water’s edge, he pointed out areas of restored habitat, with mature alders providing shade for the creek.

Before gates were installed to limit access, Moed explained, attempts to reintroduce trees along the banks were thwarted by off-roaders tearing up newly planted native flora.

“Limiting vehicular access and controlling erosion is a key part of restoring Putah Creek,” he told the Scouts.

The Troop 111 Boy Scouts who completed the project included Jon Botting, Connor Ching, Kyle Kordana, Avery Keller, Harrison Lam, Theo Lam, Derek Lerman, Lucas Needles, Avery Phimmasehn and Adam Tran.

Scoutmaster Kory Ching and Assistant Scoutmasters Matt Botting, David Dawson and Joe De Angelis assisted them.

The service project was a warmup for the Scouts who departed two days later for a two-week high adventure trip to Canadian wilderness in the Atikaki Provincial Park, 150 miles northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba. There they set out on a 10-day canoe trip that would include work on yet another conservation project while on their trek.

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